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3 Key Technologies in Smart Factory: Robotic Arm, AGV, AOI

Numerous countries, like Germany, Japan, US, Taiwan, etc, have been devoted to Industry 4.0, i.e. the 4th Industrial Revolution. IoT, Big Data, AI, and Cloud are changing our life now; what will happen as the new technologies are integrated into the manufacturing process?

Applying automated machines to reduce man power and increase production has been the crucial way for factory’s operation. Robotic arms in the automated production line, AGV in logistics, and AOI in production line yield improvement are all the automated equipment that integrate AI, voice recognition, image recognition, etc.

Coworking with Robotics to Increase Operation Performance

In smart factories, robotics arms have been utilized in diverse types of applications. Take 6-axis robotics arm for example. Due to its high speed, high accuracy, low vibration features, the robotics arm can not only greatly improve the production, help high precision assembly, but also work stably as it rapidly moves to a specific place.

To meet customers’ different needs, robotics arms also integrate machine vision. To work with different products and different processing modes, users can switch the claw and tray to make it easier to grasp objects with the robotic arms.

In addition, robotic arms can be customized to meet varied requirements. By switching sensors, autonomous learning, measuring, and even integrating ERP systems, users can apply the robotic arms to quantify the production line and improve operation efficiency with the data reports.

The invention of robotic arms does solve the complex, hazardous, and difficult problems in the manufacturing process. Human beings are able to be aside the robotics to judge, improve, and make decisions to have better design for the robotic arms and meet each customers’ request.

Robotic arms in university for students to use (photo credit)

AGV, the Great Helper for Transporting Heavy Materials

No matter in logistics, manufacturing, ports, etc, the companies there might have the request to transport loads. To decrease the labor cost, some companies adopt AGV (Automated Guided Vehicle) to complete the task of moving heavy materials effectively due to its high performance, precision, and flexibility.

AGV controls its route and movement by computer or magnetic track, and the automated navigation AGV can follow the assigned route without human beings’ guidance to transport the loads to the destination. Some companies utilize numerous AGVs simultaneously to build a flexible logistic system and arrange the routes according to the production flow. In this way, these companies are able to greatly improve its production flexibility and company’s competitiveness.

AGV becomes the essential helper to transport loads (photo credit)

AOI, Automated Optical Inspection, with AI Technology

Another important automation technology in the manufacturing process is Automated Optical Inspection (AOI). It is a high speed and high precise optical vision inspection system, applying machine vision for inspection to reduce defects of manual visual inspection.

With the AI trend, AOI technology has improved these days. Take the smart belt grinder announced by ITRI in Taiwan Automation Intelligence and Robot show in 2019 for example. This machine features the “shiny surface defect inspection system” that breaks the limitation of traditional 2D or 3D visual inspection. With AI, vision recognition, and “real-time online 3D vision inspection system”, this system can replace man power to inspect large scale and high curvature objects to meet the needs of inspecting multiple products.

The smart belt grinder announced by ITRI (photo credit )

Conclusion

In recent years, the problems, like lack of labors, high labor cost, take place in the manufacturing industry. Therefore, using automated equipment to replace man power has been the main stream in the industry. Applying the robotic arms, AGV, AOI automated equipment to manufacturing process enables the factory to provide consistent and reliable mass production and significantly increase the production and operation efficiency. The “future factory” built with Industry 4.0 has been almost ready for the manufacturing industry. By the cooperation with human beings and machines, the future factory will change the way we manufacture for sure.

(The original Chinese version of this article was written by Jia-jing Yeh and published on MakerPRO)

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