New projects funded in Autonomous Manufacturing

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flexible robotic inspection facility at the advanced forming research centre in glasgow

Flexible Robotic Inspection Facility at the Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) in Glasgow

Three projects that aim to further knowledge, understanding and innovation of the research challenges underlying the implementation of autonomous systems in UK Manufacturing have secured £6.2 million funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

These projects, which have support from companies such as Caterpillar, Kuka Robotics, Skanksa Ltd, Dyson Ltd, SPIRIT AeroSystems and Autocraft Drivetrain Solutions have the potential to impact the aerospace, construction and automotive industries.

The funded projects are:

EP/N018524/1: Robotic disassembly technology as a key enabler of autonomous remanufacturing led by Professor Duc Pham, University of Birmingham.

Remanufacturing has been identified as being central to the creation of economic growth in the UK and global markets. The UK currently has a £2.35 billion remanufacturing industry and this research project aims to expand this capability.

A key step in manufacturing is disassembly of the returned product. Due to the complexity of the process it is usually manually executed and labour intensive. This research project proposes to develop robotic technology allowing disassembly to be carried out with minimal human intervention or in a collaborative fashion. Facilitating the cost effective robotisation of this critical step will unlock the potential of remanufacturing and make it feasible for many more companies to adopt.

EP/N018494/1: Aerial Additive Building Manufacturing: Distributed Unmanned Aerial Systems for in-situ manufacturing of the built environment led by Dr Mirko Kovac, Imperial College London.

Additive Building Manufacturing (ABM) is transforming the construction industry through the 3D printing of buildings and building components. Currently ABM systems are difficult to deploy on construction sites due to their large size and lack of flexibility.

This project aims to address this limitation by developing the world’s first Aerial Additive Building Manufacturing system, consisting of a swarm of aerial robots that can autonomously assess and manufacture building structures.

The consortium includes academics from the University of Bath and industrial partners from BRE Trust, Buro Happold Ltd, Dyson Ltd, Skanska Ltd and Ultimaker B.V.

EP/N018427/1: Autonomous Inspection in Manufacturing & Remanufacturing (AIMaReM) led by Stephen Pierce, University of Strathclyde.

The growth in high value manufacturing to support aerospace, nuclear and other high integrity engineering components has placed huge pressure on the rapid delivery of reliable and high quality Non-Destructive Evaluation (NDE) to inspect these parts. Currently, much inspection of safety critical components is performed manually, leading to bottlenecks. Similar bottlenecks occur when translating NDE to the remanufacturing process.

This research proposal will address this bottleneck by developing an automated systems integration tool that will allow a faster more integrated inspection path which aims to save time, costs whilst enhancing quality and throughput.

Reference: PN 19-16

An initial Autonomous Inspection in Manufacture & Remanufacture (AIMaReM) project kick-off meeting (9th March 2016) with project partners University West, at their Production Technology Centre in Trollhättan, Sweden