Actualization of robotic arms for the CISM laboratory

Project Title: Actualization of robotic arms for the CISM laboratory

Project Lead’s Name: Giancarlo Corti


Phone: (513) 529-0747

Please Choose the Primary Affiliation: CEC

Are There Other Project Team Members?: No

Brief description of project: This proposal presents a case for the acquisition of a new 6-axis Robot for the Computer-Integrated Manufacturing Systems (CISM) laboratory. This new equipment would increase and upgrade the teaching capabilities in the areas of manufacturing and automation in the MME Department. The CISM Laboratory provides students the opportunity to integrate computers into manufacturing. This includes the use of computers for designing products, controlling manufacturing processes and combining them into a whole automated system.

Industry 4.0 or the Internet of things is a revolutionary concept that combines the real world with the virtual world of information and communication technology or the so called cyber-physic systems. Thus, creating a foundation to optimize the entire value chain of a manufacturing process, making of it a highly efficient production process capable to be change at short notice and with minimum downtime. By incorporating flexible manufacturing system and Industry 4.0 concepts into small business, they will be in capability to accept and produce highly complex parts for larger companies, with minimum or no costs associated with changes in the part design from order to order. This highly automated or robotic working environment will not replace humans, but they will work along them interlinking tasks and using smart human-machine interfaces. Clearly, engineers are no longer required to focus in their core area of expertise, such as: manufacturing or mechatronics. Moreover, engineers also need knowledge of the IT infrastructure to work along and rectify machine standstills, even if they are not physically present. Thus, these highly trained personnel must come from a highly collaborative learning environment.

MME students are not only required to learn how to operated, and program CNC machinery, but they are also trained in product, production lines design and product lifecycle management. All of them core topics in the mechanical design area. All of these areas and classes in MME curriculum are strictly related one to another, and they are inseparable. Therefore, the knowledge and training the students receive in the CISM Laboratory becomes an essential foundation for their career. This knowledge accounts for labor times, production cost, feasibility, as well as final assembly. This final assembly, nowadays, is commonly done by collaboration between and humans. Therefore, learning how to interact and programs new robots is a fundamental part of mechanical and manufacturing engineers.

Does this project focus on graduate student education or graduate student life?: No

Describe the problem you are attempting to solve and your approach for solving that problem.: This proposal if successful will cover a gap created in the teaching capabilities of the Computer Integrated Manufacturing System Laboratory. Currently the CISM Laboratories is going on an overhaul of its flexible manufacturing production line. Which has four 4-axis robots that date back to 1990. All of these robots suffer from variety of mechanical and electrical issues, and due to their age there are no spare parts available. In addition, the program interface of the current robots date back to BASIC language. Even though students gain experience by using this robots, they had a skill gap on the programming, networking and communication protocols that new robots have. Currently I have being leading effort to renew the equipment on this laboratory, so students can learn and use industrial equipment and be ready for their future jobs. These efforts have being focus on the rebuilding the flexible manufacturing line with the help of the students in the MME 437 manufacturing automation course. One of these efforts is to purchase up to date robotic arms. The proposed solution is to acquire a UR3 6-axis collaborative robot (COBOT) from Universal Robots.

The criteria state that technology fee projects should benefit students in innovative and/or significant ways. How would you describe the innovation and/or significance of your project?: Nowadays, our lives have become increasingly in contact with a series of sensors and automated systems, from our alarm clocks and coffee machines to traffic controller systems to our work place and industry. These changes are even more notorious in industry, which is said to be that it is on the verge of the fourth industrial revolution or Industry 4.0. In fact, Industry 4.0 represents the new way forward, offering exciting opportunities to those with the expertise and foresight to quickly integrate its offerings. This is a unique opportunity for industry and academia, to collaborate and move forward for the well-being of the human factor. According to the National Association of Manufactures (NAM) "Over the next decade, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will likely be needed, and 2 million are expected to go unfilled due to the skills gap. Our goal, by acquiring this state of the art COBOT, is to eliminate any skill gap from our students and provide them with a hands on experience for their industrial future.

Based on the last three years there is an average of 80 students in fall semester taking MME434 (Manufacturing Design), MME435 (Manufacturing Competitiveness), and 60 students on the spring semester taking MME 437 (Manufacturing Automation) and MME375 (Human Robot Interaction). All students taking these classes will benefit from this new COBOT,, n addition to capstone project and future research projects. This proposal seeks to modernize the CISM Laboratory capabilities and enhance the quality of student academics in preparation for their professional activity. Modernization of the manufacturing capabilities goes towards upholding the school's educational mission as well as fostering professional development of our students. Provision of the new system will:

  1. benefit to at least 150 MME students per calendar year, and other majors through capstone and research projects
  2. enhance of the quality of the courses. Having extra capabilities it means that all students will actually be able to do hands on work with industrial COBOTS, a real necessity for engineers and requirement from employers.
  3. provide additional and needed resource to support future research projects within the department and college in the area of Robotics
  4. and ensure the continued availability of state of the art equipment for courses seeking to augment or infuse exercises in automation and will better prepare our students to face their challenges in industry.

How will you assess the project?: The primary objective of the project is to make a significant contribution to enhance the hands on students experience in their engineering manufacturing courses. The realization of this goal will be assessed through two evaluations methods. Alumni surveys will constitute the most reliable body of information on the level of preparation instilled by laboratory activities. These surveys are conducted regularly by the department, and will be modified to elicit information specific to this project. The second measure of efficacy will be data collected through the senior exit interviews, which specifically inquire about the quality of the laboratory experience, and from course evaluations. Finally, end of semester course evaluations provide feedback on the student laboratory experience, which it is often identified by students as very positive towards an understanding of fundamental material concepts. Funding of this project stands to enhance the quality of this experience.

Have you applied for and/or received Tech Fee awards in past years?: Yes

If funded, what results did you achieve?: The HAAS CNC was installed during the first week of January, and a week later it was already being used by students in MME 360 Applied Manufacturing Process. In less than two months, the new CNC have being used by 50 students in two different classes, MME360 and MME437 (Manufacturing Automation). The equipment it is also schedule for several capstone project to machine their required parts, and for teaching Manufacturing Process later on the semester. MME231 has 67 student register for the current spring semester. Currently the new CNC is being used to fabricated a new transmission for the baja car for RedHawk racing, which it is a capstone project). I believe that overall the purchase of this CNC mill has improved the hands on time of MME students.

Did you submit a final report?: Yes

What happens to the project in year two and beyond? Will there be any ongoing costs such as software or hardware maintenance, supplies, staffing, etc.? How will these be funded?: The requested equipment will be used in conjunction to the newly overhaul flexible manufacturing line, and it will be place in a movable support so students could use it to tender the CNC Mills and lathe of the Material Processing Laboratory. The quoted equipment has 2 years warranty, and it will be installed by the PI and Karl Reiff Laboratory Technician/Coordinator. Maintenance of the equipment will be covered by the MME laboratory upkeep budget.

Budget: Hardware

Hardware Title(s) & Vendor(s): Universal Robots

Hardware Costs: $27,245.71

What is the total budget amount requested?: $27,245.71