The experiment aims to improve production quality of switchgears by automatizing the wiring process which is currently handled manually due to high complexity of the involved manipulation tasks. The experiment will contribute in software as well as hardware (grippers) to come up with a robotic solution for wiring. The main challenge is to develop a novel gripper with tactile sensors which can handle deformable objects such as wires and simultaneously operate on screw/clip type connection points.
For the gripper, UNBO will use existing industrial parallel gripper and equip it with tactile sensors provided by SUN. UNIBO will also mount a 3-DoF screw driver positioner and a 3D camera on the gripper. IEMA will develop a software package that utilizes CAD data of the mechanical switch gear to optimize wiring sequence and plan the robot trajectories.
During the WIRES experiment, manipulation strategies exploiting tactile feedback for tolerant wire grasping and handling during connection on electromechanical components in a laboratory setup will be evaluated. For limited simple cases, the applicability of the results to the switchgear production in a realistic scenario will be tested. All the technologies developed within the WIRES experiment aim at reducing the time for switchgear wiring and at improving the product quality. The foreseen reduction of the wiring time is about 40% with respect to the overall wiring time, due to the fact that at least part of the overall wiring process can be executed by the automatic system also overnight. It is clear that the achievement of these objectives will have a very strong impact on product cost and company income. IEMA estimated on its 2016 data that the time saved in the wiring process can generate an additional sales volume of about 4M€, with an increase with respect to the conventional manufacturing of about 53%. This estimation can be extended proportionally to all companies, even of different market fields, whose products currently require a long wiring time.