Current factory automation has its issues, whether it be volume, usability for small-to-medium businesses, or flexibility, there are plenty of areas where the current factory automation technology has room for improvement. That’s where the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia’s science agency, comes in. They are developing a new system that they intend to improve factory automation.
CSIRO explains the three scenarios in which LAMS (lightweight assistive manufacturing solutions) will benefit a typical SME:
- Worker augmentation systems. These LAMS would use tools such as wearable machine vision (i.e. Google Glass) or virtual or augmented reality systems to augment a worker during a production, assembly or quality phase. CSIRO suggests that these systems could improve product quality, increase labor productivity and help maintain a highly-skilled workforce.
- Robotic co-workers. CSIRO suggests that robots capable of collaborating with and assisting humans on manufacturing tasks, such as mobile assistants, semi-autonomous manipulators and robot helpers, would increase productivity, flexibility and responsiveness and provide safe and smart automation.
- Tele-supervised robotics. This solution would put workers out of harm’s way in manufacturing or production conditions that are particularly challenging. It could provide scalability across a number of work cells and across a number of sites, and a new option to increase labor productivity and operational efficiency, according to CSIRO. In addition, CSIRO says this solution would expand the workforce’s field of action and facilitate micro-fabrication by extending human capacity to work in small-scale environments.(&Q)
CSIRO’s improvements could change the way we think about which manufacturers can afford to move to factory automation.
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