06. March 2020

Profactor: Flexibility and safety in the smart factory

Collaborative robotics is regarded as the future of the production industry. The success of the digital factory rests on the best possible symbiosis between humans and machines and their dynamic collaboration. The flexibility and safety of such assistance systems play a particularly important role in this.

Modules for many applications

In future it should become possible to deploy modular assistance systems flexibly and so give specialists the best possible support with a variety of different production steps. The Steyr-based research promoter PROFACTOR is working on the development of such modules for multiple applications on the MMAssist II flagship project. The project aims to relieve workers of monotonous and burdensome tasks and help them cope with the ever-growing variety of product shapes and sizes. Based on thorough analysis of the requirements, so-called “assistance units” are being developed. These are modular building blocks for assistance systems that can be recycled for use in other areas of application. The objective is to enable several assistance units to be flexibly yoked together by means of a software framework to form a single assistance system. Over 20 prominent partners from science and industry are involved in this project.

Spotlight on safety

One essential aspect of collaboration between humans and robots is the operators’ safety. Systems such as these therefore require precise safety certification. This is currently very laborious and entails a great many manual measurements. To optimize this safety certification, PROFACTOR is cooperating with partners from industry on the HoliSafeMRK – Holistic Safety Concepts for Human-Robot Collaboration (HRC) project to develop software for standardized safety assessment of HRC assistance systems. In future, this software should make it possible to simulate the working environment and processes with the aim of identifying and assessing potential danger zones. The software tool should be easy to use and suitable for many different situations. It should facilitate production automation for small and medium-sized enterprises in particular.

Photo: c) UAR / Maria Kirchner
(Collaboration between humans and robots)