Industrial Robots-as-a-Service (IRaaS) - Resilient and responsive manufacturing systems enabled by rapidly deployable mobile robots

Lead Research Organisation: Loughborough University
Department Name: Wolfson Sch of Mech, Elec & Manufac Eng

Abstract

Current automation is reliant on large volume applications, with predictable market demands and stable product variants. For companies in emerging and global markets, it is difficult to adopt automation and remain responsive to market changes; as a result companies that need to be responsive are forced to adopt more expensive manual approaches, or rely on off-shore manufacturing in lower wage economies. To address this, UK manufacturing needs more responsive automation.

This project will investigate means to reduce the effort of deploying and repurposing generic off-the-shelf robots and mobile autonomous platforms, and provide them with the ability to work in teams with people and other robots. This will provide the foundation to use Industrial Robots-as-a-Service (IRaaS).

The IRaaS model will allow manufacturers to quickly respond to meet the demands of changing markets, dynamically organise work to maximise their productivity, and be less exposed to any sudden shocks and system failures. This will augment the capability of the skilled human workforce who will be enabled by automation that is responsive to human-defined production needs.

The IRaaS model will also bring the key benefits inherent to product service systems. From a reliability perspective, the system will be resilient as malfunctioning robots can easily be replaced; from a financial perspective, the model will remove the need for large capital investment by enabling subscription based services; and from an environmental perspective, it will enable sustainable manufacturing concepts such as repair, re-use and re-manufacture, eliminating the waste and cost of decommissioning monolithic automation equipment.

Publications

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