Production Systems - MTP - Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
mtp - research - robotics- and automation
Robotics and Automation
The focus of the group is:
- Robotics for digital factories and Industry 4.0.
- Automation and digitization for offshore systems
This research group has a large and modern robot laboratory that is used in research and teaching. Research on industrial robots is based on expertise in geometry, dynamics, robotics, sensor technology, computer graphics and computer technology. The research and teaching are adapted to Norwegian industry so that our students are attractive in the labor market, and the research results in technology that enables profitable production in Norway.
Production in Norway:
The strategy for the Norwegian industry is to reverse the trend of outsourcing production to low-cost countries. Instead, many companies want to achieve profitable production in Norway by using robotics and digitization. Norway has an industrial structure that is largely characterized by large and expensive products that are produced in small numbers. This applies to the shipbuilding industry which builds advanced ships and ship equipment, the offshore industry where oil platforms and drilling equipment are being built, and the aquaculture industry which makes salmon sea cages and equipment for fish farming. This gives special needs when introducing robotic production since the robots must be able to be switched between different variations of products. This increases the need for efficient computer systems and the use of robot vision and sensor technology.
An important application of robots in Norwegian industry is robotic welding. This applies to the manufacture of ships with welding of ship panels and parts for ship equipment. Furthermore, there is a need for robotic welding of large salmon stocks. In the offshore industry, welding of steel chassis to oil platforms is an important application. Here, a single weld between two pipes in the construction can take up to 100 hours during manual welding. In robotic welding, camera systems are used to obtain automatic tracking of the weld joint.
When using robotics, it is possible to produce a variety of products in Norway. Examples include the furniture industry and the production of automotive parts in aluminum. Robots are also widely used in the food industry.
In robotized production, the use of computer vision is important. This includes three-dimensional camera and laser systems that provide new opportunities. Such systems are used to recognize different parts and to position parts to be assembled with robots. In welding, camera systems are used to follow the weld joint and to plan and adjust the execution of multi-layer welding operations.
Camera systems are also used to measure finished products to verify that they are manufactured with specified accuracy. An example of this is the casting and grinding of large propeller blades where the propeller can have a diameter of over 2 meters and where the propeller blade is to be manufactured with an accuracy better than 1 mm.
AGV (Automated Guided Vehicle) robots are used to move parts between production units in an automatic factory. AGV robots use computer vision to navigate automatically and can build digital maps of the environment. This is the same type of technology used in robotic lawnmowers and self-propelled cars.
Digitization of factories is an international trend that is often described with the concept Industry 4.0. This involves product development and production being integrated and digitized. Digital factories have digital models where products and production systems are simulated and presented in three-dimensional graphics. This can be done when planning and designing a new factory, it can be used for planning the next week's production, and it can be used for monitoring and controlling the production while it is going on. In a digital factory, data is collected from many sensors and from camera systems, and this is linked to control systems and computer graphics in a plug-and-play solution.
Mechatronics is the design of mechanical systems with built-in sensors, electronics and computer technology. It is a trend that more and more products are made in this way. This is made possible by the fact that many sensors are available as small and cheap electronics components that are easy to build into a product, often together with a microcontroller, which is a small computer of the same type used in a smartphone.
Drilling operations over the drill floor are largely automated and are controlled by operators who remotely control the operations from a control room on the drill floor. A variety of purpose-built machines are used, such as the drilling machine that rotates the drill string, the winch that raises the drill string up and down, iron roughneck that tightens the threads between the drill string elements, and machines that pull and handle the drill string elements. Norwegian companies dominate the world market in such systems. There is a constant development and improvement of the systems where automation is central. It is a vision to be able to carry out the drilling autonomously with increasingly fewer operators on the drilling rig. This requires the use of camera systems, LIDAR and the development of advanced computer systems.
Offshore crane systems:
Offshore crane systems are used to move cargo from ship to ship, between oil platforms and ships, and from ships to seabed. In the North Sea, waves result a significant wave movement of the ships. This vertical wave movement is called HIV. The movement in HIV will often be so great that there is a need to adjust the crane movement. This is automatically done with data management in so-called HIV compensation. There are different types of HIV compensation depending on which operations to perform. A demanding form of HIV compensation is used in the transfer of cargo from ship to ship, where it is desirable to measure the movement of the target ship so that the load can automatically be placed on deck on the target ship. Furthermore, the wave motion can cause the load to undergo substantial pendulum movement, and there is a need to dampen this movement automatically, requiring the use of camera systems or other sensors to measure the pendulum movement of the load.
Underwater production systems
Underwater production systems have replaced production platforms on several new oil and gas fields on the Norwegian shelf. Such subsea installations must be remotely controlled from a platform or from land. This is done by using computer systems and underwater control systems. The development is towards a greater degree of automation and installation of more advanced processing equipment on the seabed.
Modeling and simulation:
Modeling and simulation are widely used in advanced automation. In order to automate a system, mathematical models are used to create simulators. Such simulators have much in common with modern computer games where running car and airplane simulators are used to generate realistic movements displayed on computer graphics. In robotics, graphic simulators are used to plan robot positions and program operations. For offshore crane systems, dynamics for cranes and ships are modeled using ship dynamics and mechanism dynamics in combination with wave models. Mathematical models and simulators are important for development and testing.