Autonomous Inspection in Manufacturing & Remanufacturing (AIMaReM)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Strathclyde
Department Name: Electronic and Electrical Engineering

Abstract

High value manufacturing is an essential component of the UK economy, contributing strongly to our economic prosperity and engineering status around the world. 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 (sometimes requiring 100% part inspection) is performed manually, leading to significant bottlenecks associated with the NDE. Existing robots typically follow pre-programmed paths making them unsuitable to handle, inspect and disassemble parts with a significant tolerance or variability. A new end-to-end approach is needed, embracing manufacture, transport through factory, parts alignment, parts tracking, and inspection (both surface form metrology and NDE) with the associated high volume data management feeding into the quality and assurance compliance processes.
Exactly the same process bottlenecks occur when we translate the problem to the regime of Remanufacturing, hence the integrated approach taken through this proposal. Remanufacturing has been identified as being central to the creation of economic growth in the UK and global markets. With supplies of resources and energy limited, the transition to a low carbon economy with strong emphasis on resource efficiency is key to the UK's Industrial Strategy. Remanufacturing can support this transition by achieving significant impact in all industrial sectors through preventing waste, improving resource management, generating sustainable economic growth, increasing productivity and enhancing competitiveness.

AIMaReM (Autonomous Inspection in Manufacturing& Remanufacturing) provides a unique combination of data collection, processing and visualisation tools combined with efficient robot path planning and obstacle avoidance, with a focus on manufacturing inspection (NDE and surface form metrology). The project will deliver an automated, systems integrated solution, that will be of direct benefit to the manufacturing sector to allow faster integrated inspection and parts handling, thus saving time, and reducing costs whilst enhancing quality and throughput.

Planned Impact

The impact of the AIMaReM project research will be quickly felt through uptake of new technologies and approaches by a range of industry. We identify specific application areas in the proposal including Aerospace Manufacturing (SPIRIT Aerosystems and RCNDE through industrial membership NDEvR, including Rolls Royce and TWI), Remanufacturing (Autocraft Drivetrains) and Nuclear Inspection (National Nuclear Laboratory). These areas represent key UK manufacturing and infrastructure assets. Aerospace and automotive manufacturing are at opposite ends of the spectrum, aerospace lifecycle typically being 50 years and high value, with automotive being lower cost, shorter lifecycle but with higher volumes. We have chosen to focus on Remanufacturing for the automotive sector to investigate the additional benefits to the environment and carbon commitments bythe introduction of the new technologies.
The underpinning research targets a number of areas that are still highly manual in operation, and as such provide barriers to throughput in the manufacturing sector (and hence increase cost). Our main focus (reflected in the partnerships), lies in high value aerospace manufacturing technology, where integration of quality and safety critical inspection procedures into the manufacturing cell is increasingly demanded from the manufacturers. Both surface form quality (for performance and assembly integrity) and internal defect compliance monitoring (through conventional NDE) are demanded by industry, and all the major UK aerospace manufacturers have a common desire to decrease inspection cycle time and improve throughput to cope with the projected demands for aerospace structures. Manual interpretation of data, with associated quality and coverage issues is not sufficient for parts demanding 100% inspection coverage. The drive is to full automation of the whole inspection process for large components (this includes transport through factory, alignment into automated process cells, delivery of surface form measurements, delivery of NDT measurements and handling the large data sets produced by these measurement techniques in real time). Although our initial motivation is therefore aerospace manufacturing, it is clear that the autonomous techniques developed translate directly into the automotive Remanufacturing environment. Here part transport, recognition and orientation are just as relevant as for aerospace, but with a lower emphasis on NDE. Real time adaptive robot path planning and obstacle avoidance must be seamlessly integrated into the measurement tasks - the ability for in process loop modification of path and measurement strategy is an essential characteristic for automating the inspection procedure. Building the requisite intelligence into the data compression, processing, display and archiving are all core priorities.
Finally we note that the autonomous approaches developed in the proposal will translate well into the arena of asset inspection. We have chosen to demonstrate this initially by focussing on collaboration with the National Nuclear Laboratory and Sellafield sites (both existing partners through EPSRC and Innovate UK funded projects). Demonstrating our range of robotic delivery and control platforms at the new Workington facilities is our strategy, and realistic due to numbers of the team having already deployed semi-autonomous inspection vehicles on site at Sellafield after proving through Workington.
Of course the academic team will pursue the conventional impact and dissemination activities through academic journal and conference publications. The proposed international collaborations will allow the research to have strong exposure in the EU robotics arena, leading to new knowledge exchange and joint research activities funded through the current Horizon 2020 framework.

Publications

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Cooper I (2017) Introducing a novel mesh following technique for approximation-free robotic tool path trajectories in Journal of Computational Design and Engineering

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Macleod C (2018) Machining-Based Coverage Path Planning for Automated Structural Inspection in IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering

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Mineo C (2016) Robotic path planning for non-destructive testing - A custom MATLAB toolbox approach in Robotics and Computer-Integrated Manufacturing

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Mineo C (2018) Index-based triangulation method for efficient generation of large three-dimensional ultrasonic C-scans in Insight - Non-Destructive Testing and Condition Monitoring

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Mineo C (2018) Index-based triangulation method for efficient generation of large three-dimensional ultrasonic C-scans in Insight - Non-Destructive Testing and Condition Monitoring

 
Description We have developed a new high speed ultrasonic inspection process for aerospace components. We have developed new data processing tools to cope with high throughput data acquisition. We have developed a new probablistic method for data gathering that links into the automated aquisition
Exploitation Route In aerospace manufacture, automotive remanufacture, nuclear plant inspection
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Construction,Education,Energy

URL http://aimarem.eee.strath.ac.uk/
 
Description At a series of public exhibitions The team are translating research findings to new project directly funded by Industry (Spirit AeroSystems).
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Education,Energy
Impact Types Societal

 
Description ABC of ARC
Amount £224,000 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2018 
End 03/2020
 
Description Alpha Glovebox Decomissioning Feasibility Study
Amount £30,736 (GBP)
Funding ID 104068 
Organisation Innovate UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2018 
End 12/2018
 
Description Automated delivery of non-contact NDE sensors
Amount £114,541 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2018 
End 03/2020
 
Description GKN DAITAS
Amount £31,543 (GBP)
Organisation GKN 
Department GKN Aerospace
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2017 
End 10/2020
 
Description GKN PhD
Amount £87,000 (GBP)
Organisation GKN 
Department GKN Aerospace
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2017 
End 10/2020
 
Description KTP Glenalmond
Amount £230,300 (GBP)
Organisation Knowledge Transfer Partnerships 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2017 
End 09/2020
 
Description Large Area Metal Additive - LAMA
Amount £5,886,209 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/R027218/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2018 
End 06/2023
 
Description OAAM - Open Architecture Additive Manufacture
Amount £320,619 (GBP)
Funding ID 113164 
Organisation Innovate UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2017 
End 11/2020
 
Description RoboWAAM, Robotically Delivered Wire Arc Additive Manufacture
Amount £1,436,000 (GBP)
Funding ID 103273 
Organisation Innovate UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2017 
End 03/2019
 
Description SPIRIT PhDs
Amount £140,000 (GBP)
Organisation SPIRIT Aerosystems 
Sector Private
Country United States
Start 11/2017 
End 11/2020
 
Description Wing of Tomorrow
Amount £837,094 (GBP)
Organisation SPIRIT Aerosystems 
Sector Private
Country United States
Start 07/2017 
End 06/2019
 
Description AMRC/Factory 2050 
Organisation University of Sheffield
Department Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Joint workpackage
Collaborator Contribution Joint workpackage
Impact Inpsection
Start Year 2016
 
Description Aachen Robots in architecture 
Organisation Association for Robots in Architecture
Country Austria 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Robotic programming
Collaborator Contribution Robotic programming
Impact New programming for robotics
Start Year 2016
 
Description Autocraft 
Organisation Autocraft Drivetrain Solutions Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution remanufacture
Collaborator Contribution remanufacture
Impact remanufacture
Start Year 2016
 
Description KUKA 
Organisation KUKA Robotics
Country Germany 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Robotics
Collaborator Contribution Robotics
Impact robotics
Start Year 2016
 
Description NNL 
Organisation National Nuclear Laboratory
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Consultancy work evaluating electromagnetic and ulrasonic inspection of AGR fuel pins
Collaborator Contribution Technology and procedures for inspection
Impact Technical findings, new inspection techniques and capabilities
Start Year 2014
 
Description SPIRIT 
Organisation SPIRIT Aerosystems
Country United States 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Partnership on ATI Innovate UK VIEWS program on new technology
Collaborator Contribution Developing integrated robotic NDT and metrology cell
Impact New inspection capabilities
Start Year 2013
 
Description University West 
Organisation University West
Department University College West
Country Sweden 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Collaborative robotics and production engineering
Collaborator Contribution Collaborative robotics and production engineering
Impact Collaborative robotics and production engineering
Start Year 2016
 
Title Data for: "Novel algorithms for 3D surface point cloud boundary detection and edge reconstruction" 
Description The dataset contains the source MATLAB version of the figures included in the paper, which is available through the link: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcde.2018.02.001. Moreover, the dataset contains two examples of boundary points detection (BPD). The examples show the use of the compiled version of the published BPD algorithm, which is described in the paper. The two examples show that all boundary points are correctly detected for the point clouds of a fan blade curved surface and the point cloud of half Stanford bunny. The prerequisites to run the compiled version of the BPD algorithm (boundaryPoints.exe) are: - 64-bit Windows operating system; - MATLAB Compiler Runtime (MCR) R2016a (9.0.1); It is possible to download the MCR installer for MATLAB R2016a from the MathWorks Web site, by navigating to: http://www.mathworks.com/products/compiler/mcr/index.html You will need administrator rights to run the MCR installer. For more information about the MCR and the MCR installer, see Distribution to End Users in the MATLAB Compiler documentation in the MathWorks Documentation Center. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2019 
 
Title Interfacing Toolbox for Robotic Arms 
Description Robots are increasingly present in industry. Achieving effective integration and the full potential of robotic systems presents significant challenges. Robots, sensors and end-effector tools are often not necessarily designed to be put together and form a system. This manual introduces a C++ language-based toolbox, designed to facilitate the integration of industrial robotic arms with server computers, sensors and actuators. The toolbox, named as Interfacing Toolbox for Robotic Arms (ITRA), contains fundamental functionalities for robust connectivity, real-time control in Cartesian and joint space and auxiliary functions to set or get key functional variables. It is designed to run on a remote computer connected with one or multiple robot controllers. All embedded functions can be used through high-level programming language platforms (e.g. MATLAB®, LabVIEW®), providing the opportunity to speed-up robust integration of robotic systems. Emerging applications aim to use robot arms in changing environments with movable obstacles or where the shape of the surroundings is changing. In such situations, the robots need to adapt their tasks/behaviors. ITRA contains functions designed to enable real-time adaptive robot behavior, maximizing the robot promptness and respecting constraints (maximum accelerations and velocities). The toolbox is compatible with all KUKA robotic arms, based on the fourth generation of KUKA controllers and equipped with the Robot Sensor Interface (RSI) software add-on. The current version of the DLL is available for Windows 32bit and 64bit platforms. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2019 
 
Description 9th China-Scotland Signal and Image Processing Research Academy Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Novel data visualisation approaches for ultrasonic inspection of complex geometries - 9th China-Scotland Signal and Image Processing Research Academy Workshop
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Advanced Engineering show 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Advanced Engineering Show Birmongham Nov 2016
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://eric.eee.strath.ac.uk/
 
Description BEIS event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact ERIC the robot
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://eric.eee.strath.ac.uk/
 
Description Explorathon - European Night of Science 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact ERIC the robot demonstrator
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://eric.eee.strath.ac.uk/
 
Description Jaguar Land Rover Skills Show - Hired by KUKA Robotics UK 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Annual show for KUKA/ JLR
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://eric.eee.strath.ac.uk/
 
Description RWTH Aachen University 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Given a seminar on Robotic Non-Destructive Testing, Product and Process Integrity
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Scottish Airshow 2016 - Lead Sponsor Spirt AeroSystems Stand 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact ERIC the robot demonstrator
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://eric.eee.strath.ac.uk/
 
Description Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service Annual Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact ERIC the robot
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://eric.eee.strath.ac.uk/