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Industrial Automation 6DoF Alignment Data Capture

INSPHERE Ltd has announced the launch of a flagship new product that will create a step change in the productivity of industrial automation and generate process data to unlock the potential of a wide array of digital manufacturing technologies.

IONA comprises a network of sensors and software that can simultaneously capture alignment data from industrial robots and other points of interest, be that the work piece, fixture or cell datums. Using IONA, engineers can monitor the performance of automated systems and ensure they are performing consistently in accordance with the simulated or programmed intent.

Live positional data from IONA enables robot simulations and programs to be updated in real-time which can be used to correct for variation in part location, cell setup or inherent errors in automated systems.

This data enables an accurate digital twin of the manufacturing system, allowing the user to bring offline programmes online – seamlessly – without the need for manual intervention.

The high quality, metrology-grade data generated, can be used to improve the accuracy and performance of robots, enabling new processes to be automated.

How The System Works

Each NODE tracks the 6DOF motion of targets in 3D within its field of view. It is robustly designed and is connected via a single data and power POE cable. Nodes can be mounted on pre-existing safety fencing and are able to account for environmental instability. Each TILE is comprised of a pattern of retro-reflective spheres. These tiles are located sparsely around the cell to provide a reference frame and also used to track additional points of interest such as parts, fixtures and tooling. The multi-faceted COLLAR is located on the robot near the end-effector providing excellent visibility of the robotic motion, whilst not impeding typical movement and operation. The CONTROLLER manages the network of nodes, combining the 6DOF locations each node returns and calculates an accurate result using the proprietary IONA algorithms. Data output is simplified so no specialist knowledge or bespoke programming is needed to utilize the data.

The data generated with IONA can be used to make corrections either as a one-off system calibration or as part of dynamic adjustments compensating for natural process variation. The benefits of IONA are:

– Improved System Accuracy – Allowing more processes to be automated and improving process quality

– Correction to Robot Programs – Enabling faster commissioning and validating a digital twin

– Reduced Automation Downtime – Predictive maintenance using IONA SPC trend data

Automation is experiencing significant growth, in part driven by the pandemic and the need to create a step-change in productivity to fuel recovery. With ever shortening new product introduction cycles, manufacturing systems need to be far more flexible to reduce the cost of producing new product variants. Lack of performance of industrial automation is a barrier to realising the full value of ‘Industry 4.0’ technologies that purport to offer a solution to these challenges.

UK based INSPHERE was co-founded by CEO Ben Adeline and CTO Oliver Martin in 2013 to develop the use of data to drive manufacturing process performance. The company works across a range of industries including aerospace, automotive and energy, and with clients such as Airbus, Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems and Jaguar Land Rover to deliver profitability and productivity with their innovative data driven hardware and software solutions.

Measurement technologies are typically used at the end of the production line where discovered faults or defective parts mean they are either scrapped or require expensive re-work. INSPHERE’s philosophy has always been to counter this traditional approach and use measurement data to enhance the process so that root causes in the production line can be identified early on and manufacturers can overcome costly downtime and the consequences of poor-quality parts when problems are unresolved.

INSPHERE’s growing portfolio of technology operate in real-time, automatically measuring the performance of manufacturing systems and instructing self-correction, creating a closed-loop control systems. This not only avoids downtime but also provides significantly quicker line set-up, reducing waste, improving productivity and ultimately enhancing profitability for manufacturers.

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