|The 30 month COMET project aims to overcome the challenges facing European manufacturing industries by developing innovative machining systems that are flexible, reliable and predictable with an average of 30% cost efficiency savings in comparison to machine tools.
From a conceptual point of view, industrial robot technology could provide an excellent base for machining being both flexible (due to their lay-out) and cost efficient (robots cost 2-5 times less then machine tools). However, industrial robots lack absolute positioning accuracy, are unable to reject disturbances in terms of process forces and lack reliable programming and simulation tools to ensure right first time machining, once production commences. These three critical limitations currently prevent the use of robots in typical machining applications. COMET will overcome these problems that come with today’s industrial robots.
Developments are based on four innovations:
- A methodology for describing kinematic and dynamic models of industrial robots so as to accurately define the static and dynamic behaviour of any industrial robot, which is then represented by its unique signature.
- An integrated programming and simulation environment for adaptive robot path generation for machining with industrial robots.
- An adaptive tracking system for industrial robots to help adjust the robot arm in relation to where it should be according to the initial programmed robot path and make corrections via the robot controller.
- A high dynamic compensation mechanism (HDCM) to achieve accuracy better than 50 micrometres, significantly beyond the structural capacity of the robot system on its own.
After 34 months of project lifetime, the set goals have been achieved and the four innovations have been proven to successfully work in six demonstration cells across Europe at SIR, Gizelis, BTU, IPA, TEKS and AML. The set targets from the project have been achieved, although the level of each innovation result is at a different level.
Six clear exploitable results have been identified, including:
- PowerMILL Robot Interface, a programming and simulation platform for industrial robots
- A spin-off company Cognibotics to commercialese the device to obtain the kinematic and dynamic models for industrial robots.
- Adaptive tracking system for dynamic tracking of robot movements while machining
- The high dynamic compensation mechanism, including how to manufacture it, capable of reaching machining accuracies below 50 µm.
- Extensive training material on using robots for machining and how to compensate common robot errors using technology developed in the project. The material was used in three successful training seminars in Greece, United Kingdom and Italy.
- Extensive knowledge on robot cell integration for machining purposes available through two of the project robot integrators SIR and Gizelis.
During the closing meeting of the project, the final comments and feedback received from the Project Officer Dr. Jan Ramboer and Project Technical Advisory Prof. Vincenzo Nicolo, showed that they were in full agreement that the project has been an unequivocal success. Dr. Jan Ramboer summarised his thoughts saying, “At the beginning of the project the ideas were very ambitious but now through the demonstrations we see the concrete results, and what was originally being aimed for has really been achieved.” With Prof. Vincenzo Nicolo adding, “COMET has made clear the aspects of manufacturing with robots. There is a long way to go, but now we know the right direction.” Further to this they added how impressed they were with how well partners from industry, research and education had collaborated together and that the COMET project should be looked upon as a shining example and benchmark for other EU funded projects to follow.