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Designing workstations for human–industrial robot collaboration: Development and application of simulation software
Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2401-0380
2020 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Human-industrial robot collaboration (HIRC) creates an opportunity for an ideal combination of human senses and industrial robot efficiency. The strength, endurance and accuracy of industrial robots can be combined with human intelligence and flexibility to create workstations with increased productivity, quality and reduced ergonomic load compared with traditional manual workstations. Even though multiple technical developments of industrial robot and safety systems have taken place over the last decade, solutions facilitating HIRC workstation design are still limited. One element in realising an efficient design of a future workstation is a simulation software. Thus the objective of this research is to (1) develop a demonstrator software that simulates, visualises and evaluates HIRC workstations and (2) propose a design process of how to apply such a simulation software in an industrial context.

The thesis comprises five papers describing the development of a HIRC simulation software and its corresponding design process. Two existing simulation software tools, one for digital human modelling and one for robotic simulation, were merged into one application. Evaluation measures concerning operation time and ergonomic load were included in the common software. Existing engineering design methods were applied in a HIRC workstation context to describe the utilisation of a HIRC simulation software. These developments were demonstrated in five actual industrial cases from a heavy vehicle manufacturing company.

The HIRC simulation software developed enables simulation, visualisation and evaluation of all kinds of HIRC workstations where human and robot simultaneously work in a collaborative environment including hand-guiding tasks. Multiple layout alternatives can be visualised and compared with quantitative numbers of total operation time and biomechanical load on the human body. An integrated HIRC workstation design process describes how such a simulation software can be applied to create suitable workstations. This process also includes a safety measure by which the collision forces between the industrial robot and the human are predicted. These forces have to be minimised to tolerable limits in order to design safe HIRC workstations.

The HIRC simulation software developed and the proposed workstation design process enable more efficient HIRC workstation design. The possibility of designing and evaluating HIRC alternatives for hand-guiding activities is rarely found in other simulation software. The evaluation could include different types of layout alternatives and workstations: HIRC, fully manual or fully automatic. All of these could be compared based on their total operation time and biomechanical load and thus be used in workstation design decision making.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Västerås: Mälardalen University , 2020.
Series
Mälardalen University Press Dissertations, ISSN 1651-4238 ; 306
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Research subject
Innovation and Design
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-46591ISBN: 978-91-7485-456-5 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mdh-46591DiVA, id: diva2:1380471
Public defence
2020-02-14, Filen, Mälardalens högskola, Eskilstuna, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2019-12-19 Created: 2019-12-18 Last updated: 2020-01-16Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Human Industrial Robot Collaboration – development and application of simulation software
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Human Industrial Robot Collaboration – development and application of simulation software
2015 (English)In: International Journal of Human Factors Modelling and Simulation, ISSN 1742-5557, Vol. 5, no 2, p. 164-185Article, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Human industrial robot collaboration (HIRC) aims to combine the benefits of industrial robots with humans in production environments. This is a growing research field where most work focuses on the safety aspects, while little research is performed on simulation and visualisation. The aim of this paper is to present a demonstrator software for simulation, visualisation and evaluation of human industrial robot collaboration.

Two simulation software products were combined to reach this goal. The new tool was then applied to two industrial assembly cases where productivity and biomechanical loads on humans were calculated. The resulting demonstrator software simulates and visualises human industrial robot collaboration. The quantitative output from the simulation makes it possible to compare HIRC, manual and robotic assembly stations in terms of productivity and ergonomics.

Keywords
Human robot collaboration; HRC; industrial robot collaboration; human robot; industrial assembly; man machine; digital human modelling; DHM; virtual simulation; workstation design; ergonomics
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Research subject
Innovation and Design
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-28068 (URN)10.1504/IJHFMS.2015.075362 (DOI)
Projects
INNOFACTURE - innovative manufacturing development
Funder
XPRES - Initiative for excellence in production research
Available from: 2015-06-03 Created: 2015-06-03 Last updated: 2019-12-18Bibliographically approved
2. Verification of manikin motions in human-industrial robot collaborative simulations
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Verification of manikin motions in human-industrial robot collaborative simulations
Show others...
(English)In: Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Keywords
Human-robot collaboration; HRC; simulation; verification; validation; digital human modelling; DHM; industrial robot; motion capture; workstation
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Research subject
Innovation and Design
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-46568 (URN)
Available from: 2019-12-18 Created: 2019-12-18 Last updated: 2019-12-18
3. Automation constraints in human–industrial robot collaborative workstation design
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Automation constraints in human–industrial robot collaborative workstation design
2016 (English)In: Swedish Production Symposium 2016 SPS 2016, 2016Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Human–industrial robot collaboration (HIRC) aims to combine desired characteristics of humans and industrial robots – the flexibility, intelligence and tactile sense of humans, and the strength, repeatability and accuracy of robots. A newly developed demonstration software enables simulation, design, verification, optimisation and visualisation of HIRC workstations. Two parameters, operation time and biomechanical load, are measured as quantitative outputs. These parameters favour fully automatic workstations since industrial robots move faster than humans without biomechanical restrictions. However, there exist limitations in the automation possibilities in workstation design. The aim of this paper is to define automation constraints and include them in the task allocation process of HIRC workstations. This will give a more accurate process in task allocation between humans and industrial robots in a HIRC workstation design problem. Three previously performed simulations of industrial HIRC cases from a heavy vehicle manufacturer are used as a basis in order to identify automation constraints in the task allocation process. Four criteria that limit automation possibilities are identified, human cooperation, dual operation, manual quality control and inaccurate positioning of objects. These constraints are included in the work method of task allocations in HIRC workstation design.

Keywords
Human–robot collaboration, HRC, virtual simulation, digital human modelling, DHM, automation constraints.
National Category
Computer Systems
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-34081 (URN)
Conference
Swedish Production Symposium 2016 SPS 2016, 25 Oct 2016, Lund, Sweden
Projects
XPRESINNOFACTURE - innovative manufacturing development
Available from: 2016-12-15 Created: 2016-12-13 Last updated: 2019-12-18Bibliographically approved
4. Design Method of Human–Industrial Robot Collaborative Workstation with industrial Application
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Design Method of Human–Industrial Robot Collaborative Workstation with industrial Application
(English)In: Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Keywords
Human–robot collaboration; workstation design; engineering design; human–robot interaction
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Research subject
Innovation and Design
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-46570 (URN)
Available from: 2019-12-18 Created: 2019-12-18 Last updated: 2019-12-18
5. Simulation methodology for performance and safety evaluation of human-industrial robot collaboration workstation design
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Simulation methodology for performance and safety evaluation of human-industrial robot collaboration workstation design
Show others...
2019 (English)In: INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INTELLIGENT ROBOTICS AND APPLICATIONS, ISSN 2366-5971, Vol. 3, no 3, p. 269-282Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

There is a strong interest in the scope of human-industrial robot collaboration (HIRC) in manufacturing industry for greater flexibility and productivity. However, HIRC in manufacturing is still in its infancy; industrial practitioners have many apprehensions and uncertainties concerning the system's performance and human operators' safety. Therefore, there is a need for investigations into design processes and methods to make sure the designed HIRC workstations successfully meet design guidelines on system performance, human safety and ergonomics for practical industrial applications. This research proposes a HIRC workstation design process. The novelty of this design process is the methodology to evaluate the HIRC workstation design alternatives by considering both performance and safety characteristics through computer-based simulations. As a proof of concept, the proposed HIRC design process is applied on an industrial manufacturing case from a heavy-vehicle manufacturing company.

Keywords
Human industrial robot collaboration, Safety, Ergonomics, Collision model, Performance evaluation, Risk assessment
National Category
Mechanical Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-45373 (URN)10.1007/s41315-019-00097-0 (DOI)000486179900003 ()2-s2.0-85075361362 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2019-10-03 Created: 2019-10-03 Last updated: 2019-12-20Bibliographically approved

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