The Future is Here: Robot Guidance Systems for Optimized Part Localization

Automotive production lines can be expensive, inefficient, and fraught with human error. SICK, Inc. has a revolutionary robot guidance system that allows assignment of complex tasks to robots, even ones equipped with flexible material handling operations.

Because of current labor shortages, higher demands for different production runs, and increased risk of worker injuries in production involving heavy machinery, automotive manufacturers have been turning towards using automation to fill the gaps in their production processes. Until now, robots have been blind, and most are not able to accommodate the fast-changing production processes common in the automotive sector.

Repetitive, manual part picking is something typically done by human labor, due to the constantly changing environment. However, this results in a high risk of injury because of the variable weight of automotive parts and how each must be handled, shifted, and installed. Repetitive part picking is now being replaced by robots, but the random organization of parts in bins or boxes makes it difficult for robots that cannot maneuver in non-repetitive motions or which lack the ability to “decide” which part they need to pick from a bin.

With SICK, Inc.’s vision guidance system, robot-led part picking is now possible. Customizable vision systems allow automotive manufacturers to secure a competitive edge against their contenders in the field.

1. Optimized Part Localization

SICK’s PLB is a revolutionary vision system that enables robot pickers to precisely locate parts randomly organized in boxes and bins. This vision system utilizes a 3D camera and part localization software, featuring user-adaptable tools for simple integration into any particular setting. This technology is well suited for part suppliers, powertrain manufacturing, and machine loading operations in component production.

This robot uses a high-quality 3D camera to locate the part it’s been programmed to pick, regardless of its position in the box or bin it’s been placed in. The camera then provides precise coordinates to the robot. After this, the robot verifies that it can reach the part without collision with other parts or a nearby obstruction. The software then matches the CAD model of the part to the 3D image the onboard camera recognizes. Once the part’s location is confirmed, the gripper activates to secure the part.

2. Part Localization for Parts on Racks

The PLR is ideal for avoiding obstacles in handling large, flat sheet metal. Normally, these parts might move during transport or even damage the racks they’re being stored on. The PLR is able to overcome these issues and keep production running efficiently.

The PLR is a web server-based application. This integration takes a short amount of time to set up, combining 2D and 3D vision to allow the robot to handle flexible and bulky parts. It is simple: install the device, connect it to the robot, and configure it for your manufacturing needs.

3. Conveyor Part Localization 

The robot guidance systems can also be utilized in conveyor settings. PLOC2D is a 2D vision application for part localization. It uses image processing hardware in conjunction with a high-quality localization algorithm for efficient part localization on conveyor systems.

The PLOC2D system is perfect for conveyor picking applications due to these features. It can be easily configured to recognize different parts and can be integrated into a variety of robots and PLC’s.

To setup, no programming knowledge is necessary – simply configure through a web browser. This sensor system is ready for measurement straight out of the box.

These robot guidance systems will help bring manufacturers the efficiency their markets demand. The goal is to allow robots to assist human workers, further reduce injuries, and take over nuanced tasks on a daily basis.