Research Project OPC4Factory
Flexible automated manufacturing cells usually are preconfigured systems offered as standard solutions for distinct application scenarios. In most cases they are not intended to be modified by the user when the application changes. This lack of reconfigurability often leads to a reduced rate of use of the cell and its components which especially applies to SMEs due to the very small or highly variable batch sizes. In many cases, this circumstance is an economic obstacle against automated manufacturing processes, although prices for industrial robots for example decreased for one third since 1990. For SMEs, fast adaptation of manufacturing cells is of much higher importance than short cycle times. To ensure that, reprogramming cell equipment and the integration of new components must be significantly facilitated.
The integration of machines, robots and peripheral equipment relies on proper interfaces. In state-of-the-art solutions data exchange between components is realised based on digital I/O ports. The desired signals like for controlling the workspace door or the chuck must be individually configured and linked. Often, in an NC program control instructions (M instructions) are used to drive or request the state of digital I/O ports. For this reason, the reconfiguration of a cell due to the exchange of a single component results in high effort and requires programming skills.
Aim of the project:
The project goal is to develop semantic OPC UA-based interfaces for the robot and machine controllers. These interfaces are provided by OPC UA servers integrated in the respective components. This way, all the necessary information and the operations provided by the cell components (loading doors, chucks, tools, NC programs etc.) are exposed to the cell controller acting as an OPC UA client. This is achieved in a unified and abstract manner. The new interface concept shall lead to a change in the (re-)configuration workflow, replacing programming by parameterizing. The configuration required for a job execution and the orchestration of equipment shall become substantially simplified.
The proposed OPC UA servers expose the parts of the cell components by the information models instantiated in the address space of the servers. Communication on this level does not require real-time capabilities since control jobs with real-time requirements are executed on the robot and machine controllers.
The OPC UA information models shall be derived from a domain model representing a manufacturing cell consisting of a robot, an NC-controlled machine tool and a cell controller. In order to evaluate the concepts developed within this project a simple demonstrator manufacturing cell shall be finally set up which integrates the OPC UA servers. This way, configuration of real-life manufacturing environment can be tested using the proposed new concepts.
Project Key Data:
- Funding: FFG Produktion der Zukunft - P 843 613
- Project Management: Ao.Univ.Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Dr.techn. Burkhard Kittl, email@example.com
- Project Team:
- Project Start: 01.04.2014
- Project Duration: 2 Jahre