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Smart workbench shows technologies for future factories

01 March, 2023

A next-generation smart workbench designed to showcase and experiment with the latest production technologies has been installed at the AMRC Cymru centre, near Chester, UK. The workbench, which has been developed by the machine vision and industrial automation specialist Industrial Vision Systems (IVS) in collaboration with the centre, combines technologies including 3D and 2D machine vision, a seven-axis cobot, a mixed reality headset, smart tools, intelligent projection, pick-to-light and automation – all in a single cell.

The workbench will be used by members of AMRC Cymru, as well as visitors, for demonstrations, r&d and to research manufacturing concepts. AMRC Cymru will use the data to explore the potential applications of various technology combinations in future manufacturing settings.

AMRC Cymru is part of the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) and the High Value Manufacturing Catapult cluster of research centres.

The bench combines a mixed-reality environment with the various tools to provide a step-by-step process for users to follow.

“We see the increased use of mixed reality, combined with industrial automation and machine vision, as a pivotal technology for next-generation factories,” says IVS director, Earl Yardley. “Imagine operators with physical items around them, such as components and assemblies, but with the ability to also interact with digital content, such as a shared document that updates in real-time to the cloud, or instruction animations for assembly. That, in essence, is the promise of mixed reality. It’s an incredibly exciting technology for future production environments.”

The smart workbench incorporates both 2D and 3D machine vision systems. By generating a point cloud of information, the 3D system can be used to inspect and confirm positional offsets for automated inspection of complicated assemblies and components. This will allow parts to be assembled using the workbench’s seven-axis collaborative robot arm, which can be paired with the pick-to-light system to achieve full collaboration between humans and robots.

The smart workbench developed by IVS for AMRC Cymru will users to investigate the interaction of a variety of advanced manufacturing technologies

“AMRC Cymru believes that smart workstations equipped with collaborative robot technologies will be a key component of our future factories, as they enable us to merge the productivity and repeatability of automation with the adaptability and dexterity of a human,” says the centre’s research director, Andrew Silcox.

The smart workbench also has operator traceability and security capabilities with RFID tags allowing the bench to adjust to suit the operator’s height and to store data against the operator ID. This is linked to the centre’s factory information system, and ultimately to AMRC’s Factory+ system, demonstrating how data exchange with factory information systems and human-machine interfaces, are critical elements for the factory of tomorrow.

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Industrial Vision SystemsLinkedIn  Facebook

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