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AGV transports robot arm from one task to the next

13 September, 2018

Mitsubishi Electric and the British AGV (automatically guided vehicle) specialist Mirage have released more details of the mobile robot system that they demonstrated at the Smart Industry Expo in Birmingham, UK, earlier this year.

The two companies have combined a Mirage AGV with a Mitsubishi Melfa robotic arm to operate as a stand-alone system that can be moved from one workstation to the next. Not only can the robot move along a production line to perform assembly or pick-and-place tasks, depending on demand, but it can also switch lines and functions. The combination is intended to add flexibility to assembly lines and to boost productivity.

The AGV moves around an assembly line following a magnetic tape on the floor. RFID (radio frequency identification) tags tell it where to stop, speed up or slow down. The AGV has safety scanners that stop it if it encounters an obstacle or if an operator moves too close. The robot and vehicle communicate via a Mitsubishi PLC, which determines when the AGV has reached a station and a task can begin.

Before the robot starts to perform a task, a vision system assesses the AGV’s location to compensate for slight variations in arrival position, and recalculates its position relative to the station. Establishing this datum point ensures the accuracy of the robot. The system has an on-board power supply that lasts up to 13 hours, allowing a shift to be completed before it needs to be exchanged.

The robot-carrying AGV moves around an assembly line following a magnetic tape and is equipped with safety scanners to stop it if it encounters an obstacle.

Operators can interact with the robot and AGV via a Mitsubishi operator terminal or, remotely, using a Wi-Fi connected master control box. The robot arm also supports Mitsubishi’s predictive maintenance tools, warning operators of any potential issues and minimising downtime.

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