Expected Outcomes


Expected impacts listed in the work program

The PAN-Robots research outcomes are expected to contribute in several aspects to the main targets mentioned in the Challenge 7 (ICT for the Enterprise and Manufacturing) and to be highimpact both in terms of technology/knowledge development of manufacturing process across a broad range of sectors.

The PAN-Robots research activity goes in the direction fixed by Objective FoF-ICT-2011.7.1 Smart Factories: Energy-aware, agile manufacturing and customization, in particular to the target outcome (b) which specifically asks for the development of “Large-scale validation of advanced industrial robotics systems”. In this respect it is worth noting how the goal of the project is precisely the one of validating a new robotic infrastructure for improving the production integration for a completely automatic factory. The following table summarizes the strategic impact of the project versus the expected impact list:

Comparison of listed impact in work program vs. impact achieved by PAN-Robots

Impact listed in the work program

Strengthened global position of European manufacturing industry through the introduction of advanced automation into mainstream manufacturing and contributions to international standardization.

Impact achieved through the project

PAN-Robots aims to improve quality, safety and economical aspects of the AGV for the automation of the factory logistics, in one concept: Keep the technology leadership in automation systems for factory logistics in Europe. Since all forecasts are unanimously predicting a boom of this technology in the next years, the PAN-Robots major impact is in the strengthen of the logistics European industry in this very promising global market. Moreover, PAN-Robots will pave the way for a new standard for the communication and control between AGV and Control Center (CC), bridging an important gap in the logistic sector.

Larger European market for advanced technologies such as electronic devices, control systems, new assistive automation and robots.

PAN-Robots will develop advanced technologies (new laser scanners and vision system for smart navigation, new control technologies for mobile robots, etc.) not available today that will push forward the European market for such ICT technologies.

Intelligent management of manufacturing information for customization and environmental friendliness.

PAN-Robots technology will enable a greater customization of the handling of factory logistics, since the new AGV system will handle automatically any modification in the process thanks to its improved adaptability. Moreover, the improvement in the environment perception will permit to smooth the AGV motion (i.e. less energy consumed for acceleration/deceleration) to improve the system’s environmental impact.

Real-world validation of R&D shall demonstrate its large-scale applicability to flexible, small batch and craft manufacturing.

As matter of fact, one of the principal goals of PAN-Robots, is to validate the developed technology in a real world manufacturing plant (provided by CAS partner) as an example for many production facilities. The benchmark test will evaluate and demonstrate the capability of PAN-Robots technology to tackle manufacturing requirements for flexibility and smallbatch productions.

Moreover, the impact of the project in the target industrial application will also be validated versus the achievement obtained by reaching the project’s technical objectives.

Quantifiable impact and benchmark of system performance of PAN-Robots for a common factory installation.

Project objective

Reduce the deployment time and cost

Current efforts

A 34 person months effort is estimated (9 in-house and 25 on the plant, respectively) to set-up a plant. Namely this effort is spent to:

1. set up the AGV mission management,

2. set up the traffic manager and path planning.

3. Design the AGV navigation layout.

4. Define the Safety handling for critical points (e.g. blind spots, crossing points, etc.)

5. Mapping and installation of reflectors.

6. Management of the installation (site manager).

Impact of PAN-ROBOTS

Savings of more than 60%. The technology developed within PAN-Robots will make unnecessary the (2) set-up of the traffic manager, (3) the design of navigation layout, (4) the special treatment of safety in critical points and the (5) mapping and installation of laser reflectors. In substance, only (1) set-up of missions and interface with the factory ERP and (6) the management of the installation (with reduced time and efforts). Therefore, the estimation of effort will decrease to a total of 10 person months (6 in-house and 4 on the plant), with a saving of 61% in engineering effort.

Reduce the cost in terms of fixed infrastructures.

In an average plant with 20 AGV occupying 3000 square meters, there are about 400 laser reflectors deployed (exact figures may vary largely because of a particular building map or space allocation). The average cost of such a hardware (excluding installation, which is considered above) is 30.000 €.

Savings of more than 90% The PAN-Robots technology requires much less (to none) laser reflectors.

System flexibility versus production changes.

Any change in the system (i.e. modification of a single rack position) requires the modification of AGV system by expert technicians.

Technology developed by PAN-Robots does not require any more skilled efforts to adjust the system in case of any modification in production (i.e. full system flexibility).

Reduce the consumption of energy

Based on CAS’ experience with manual forklifts, the energy required is about 229 kWh on an average day.

Savings of about 50%. Advanced AGVs require about 116 kWh/day summing up to 2320 kWh for 20 vehicles. Consequently, the energy savings are about 2260 kWh/day.

Increase the system efficiency

Each mission lasts for 420 seconds (in average). Considering that each segment at low speed takes (in average) 30 seconds, then 7,34% of the mission path is run at lower than nominal speed

The outcome of PAN-Robots will be an increase of system efficiency of 5.7%, because the average travel time will decrease from 420 seconds to 396 seconds. That means in an average plant of 20 AGV a save of 1 vehicle.

Decrease the number of accident.

The statistics of number of accidents for AGV reports about one death fatality(1) and many other minor accidents, mainly due to collision in blind spots or in critical points (e.g. crossing point with manual forklifts).

PAN-Robots technology will reduce this kind of accidents to zero.

Benchmark metrics

In order to evaluate the benefits introduced by the project, it is necessary to define quantifiable metrics.

Generally speaking, in order to correctly evaluate the performance of an automated system for industrial application, it is necessary to consider different quantities: fixed costs, variable costs, efficiency, safety. Even though these quantities can be effectively evaluated in a separate manner, it is useful to define a global index, to be adopted to compare different solutions.

According to the literature(2), different quantities can be simultaneously taken into account considering their corresponding costs. Hence, we define a global cost functional that takes into account:

  • Fixed costs, related to installation and setup of the plant
  • Variable costs, related to the daily operations of the plant
  • The efficiency of the plant, accounting for instance the utilization rate of the machineries
  • The energy consumption, and the consequent production of pollution and wastes
  • The safety of the plant, considering for instance the average number of accidents

The cost functional J can then be defined as follows:

NOTES

1 Fatality caused by AGV in USA, November 28, 2008. An employee at the Frito-Lay plant in USA got stuck between two forklifts when he tried to adjust a pallet. The employee had stepped off his own forklift to adjust the pallet when another forklift, a robotic machine equipped with a laser to detect the presence of obstacles, did not sense another forklift was resting nearby and didn’t stop operating, pinning the man between the two vehicles.

2 Robert S. Kaplan, Measures For Manufacturing Excellence, Harvard Business Press, 1990.

j

Where:

  • S represents the setup and installation costs
  • V (t) represents the variable costs, expressed as daily average
  • E (t) represents the energy consumption, expressed as daily average
  • n represents the efficiency of the system
  • A (t) represents the daily average number of accidents, opportunely weighted according to the severity of the accidents themselves
  • T represents the time horizon of utilization of the plant

It is worth noting that the cost functional defined so far can be adopted to evaluate a broad range of automated solutions for industrial applications. Evaluating the performance of the system in terms of costs, in fact, allows one to account for a wide variety of characteristics, that can be specialized to assess specific cases of interest.

We will now exploit this cost functional to quantitatively define the objectives of PAN-Robots:

All subsequent values are computed for a common factory installation, formed by a fleet of 20 vehicles. Values have been measured or estimated mainly based on the experience of partners CAS and E80.

It is worth considering two separate items:

a. Setup effort for a new plant

In the current situation, a 34 person months effort is estimated (9 in-house and 25 on the plant, respectively) to set-up a plant. Namely this effort is spent to: (1) set up the AGV mission management, (2) set up the traffic manager and path planning, (3) design the AGV navigation layout, (4) define the Safety handling for critical points (e.g. blind spots, crossing points, etc.), (5) mapping and installation of reflectors, (6) management of the installation (site manager).

The technology developed within PAN-Robots will make unnecessary the (2) setup of the traffic manager, (3) the design of navigation layout, (4) the special treatment of safety in critical points and the (5) mapping and installation of laser reflectors. In substance, only (1) set-up of missions and interface with the factory ERP and (6) the management of the installation (with reduced time and efforts). Therefore, the estimation of effort will decrease to a total of 10 person months (6 inhouse and 4 on the plant), with a saving of 61% in engineering effort.

Current value: 34 person months

Target value: 10 person months (> 60% reduction)

b.Laser reflectors cost (including installation)

In the current situation, in an average plant with 20 AGV occupying 3000 square meters, there are about 400 laser reflectors deployed (exact figures may vary largely because of a particular building map or space allocation). The average cost of such a hardware (excluding installation, which is considered above) is 30.000 €. Conversely, the PAN-Robots technology requires much less (to none) laser reflectors. Current value: 400 laser reflectors, 80.000 euro Target value: < 40 laser reflectors, less than 8.000 euro (90% reduction)

Daily costs are mainly due to energy consumption.
Based on CAS’s experience with manual forklifts, the energy required is about 229 kWh on an average day per vehicle, which sums up to 4580 kWh for the total fleet. Conversely, advanced AGVs developed within PAN-ROBOTS require about 116 kWh on an average day summing up to 2320 kWh for 20 vehicles. Consequently, the energy savings are about 2260 kWh per day.

Current value (manual forklifts): total of 4580 kWh per day with a fleet of 20 AGVs

Target value (advanced AGVs): total of 2320 kWh per day (approximately 50% reduction)

The efficiency of the plant can be measured in terms of average time to complete a mission. In the current situation, each mission lasts for 420 seconds (in average). Considering that each segment at low speed takes (in average) 30 seconds, then 7.3% of the mission path is run at lower than the nominal speed. The outcome of PAN-ROBOTS will be an increase of system efficiency of 5.7%, because the average travel time will decrease from 420 seconds to 396 seconds. That means in an average plant of 20 AGV a save of 1 vehicle.

Current value: 420 s

Target value: 394 s (increase the efficiency of 5.7%, saving one AGV with a fleet of 20 AGVs)

The statistics of number of accidents for AGV reports about one death fatality and many other minor accidents, mainly due to collision in blind spots or in critical points (e.g. crossing point with manual forklifts). PAN-ROBOTS technology will reduce to zero this kind of accidents.

Current value: fatal accidents, and several accidents due to blind spots

Target value: elimination of blind spots, which implies zero accidents