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Real-Time Equipment AI Adjustments Set To Improve Manufacturing Quality and Productivity

Mitsubishi Electric Corporation and the Japanese National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) has announced that they have developed an AI technology that predicts changes during automated manufacturing processes and then makes real-time
adjustments in factory-automation (FA) equipment during operation. In addition to eliminating the need for time-consuming manual adjustments, the AI estimates the confidence level of inferences regarding factors such as machining error and then controls the FA equipment based on suitable levels of confidence. The technology is expected to lead to more stable, reliable and productive operations, particularly in agile manufacturing.

Key Features

Fast – AI achieves high-speed inferences for dynamic control of FA equipment control

In factories that use FA equipment for agile manufacturing, such as computerized numerical controller (CNC) cutting machines and industrial robots, the movements, operating speeds, acceleration, etc. of the equipment vary during the operating processes. In conventional manufacturing, skilled workers must adjust the operating parameters according to various specifications, such as the required level of accuracy. Mitsubishi Electric has now developed an AI technology that simultaneously performs high-speed inferences and equipment control for real-time FA operation. Incorporating Mitsubishi Electric’s expertise as an FA equipment manufacturer, the new low-load AI control technology performs inferences while simultaneously controlling FA equipment. Although the technology minimizes its processing load, it is capable of achieving high-level inference accuracy while simultaneously guiding FA equipment control.

Adaptable – In-process learning to adapt to constantly changing work factors

The shapes of workpieces change during manufacturing and this can lengthen manufacturing times or lower processing quality. In addition, changes can vary by workpiece, making it difficult for FA equipment to learn in advance. Mitsubishi Electric’s new technology, however, allows the AI to learn work factors during FA equipment operation and then make real-time adjustments as needed. In addition, the technology formulates physical phenomena, such as friction, and then incorporates these mathematical expressions to enable learning during operation, making it possible to adapt to constantly changing processing factors.

Reliable – AI performs adjustments according to inference-confidence levels

AI inferences must be reliable to ensure that real-time control of FA equipment leads to stable product quality and efficient processing. Mitsubishi Electric’s new algorithm calculates the confidence level of inferences by learning the machine characteristics of each process and each target device. By using this algorithm to control FA devices, the new AI ensures high reliability.

Application Examples

Using the AI development Mitsubishi Electric has developed an AI error-correction solution for CNC cutting machines. The AI estimates constantly changing machining error, or the difference between the cutting machine’s current position and the command value, to enable correction even during dynamic machining. Also, the confidence levels of the AI’s error inferences are indexed to ensure that error correction is performed only if the confidence level is suitably high. Tests confirmed that machining accuracy is improved by 51% compared to using error correction not supported with AI. Furthermore, low confidence levels can be improved through relearning.

Another example of the high-speed inference of Mitsubishi Electric’s AI control technology is the development of a solution to estimate loads on robotic arms. Various load parameters are utilized to calculate acceleration and deceleration speeds, for which the AI function quickly infers load values using information about the robot, such as motor current, joint angle, etc. Acceleration and deceleration are adjusted based on estimated values and confidence levels. Validation tests conducted to compare differences in robot motion with and without AI confirmed robot cycle times were reduced by 20% together more stable robot operation achieved.

Going forward, Mitsubishi Electric expects to increasingly incorporate various forms of its Maisart®* AI technology in FA equipment and systems to significantly improve manufacturing productivity.
*Mitsubishi Electric’s AI creates the State-of-the-ART in technology.

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