Advanced high quality production by the use of an overall system architecture for small batches

Overall system architecture for use by small/medium metal
working industries. Advanced technology:nc-scanning/cutting,
welding systems with sensors, programming systems, databases
for fast/flexible adaptation > changing mfg requirements.

The goal of this project is to develop an overall system architecture for metal-working SMEs including the design and manufacture of components in small batches with the aim of reducing the product design cycle and total manufacturing time. Therefore, an automated cutting, assembly and welding cell will be built up according to existing European standards to ensure high quality and increase cost effectiveness. This can only be realised successfully if the product design, production planning, material flow and manufacturing, as well as the necessary data exchange between all components included in the manufacturing process, are organised in an overall system architecture to be developed. The ideas of the project proposed deal with the following goals: a) Development of new approaches for design by constraints e.g. design for cutting, assembly and welding integrated into a flexible automated manufacturing cell. b) Exploitation of integrated design, production planning and production control and costing in small batch production interacting with a programmable program software (PPS) system. c) Development of innovative approaches in mechanical and/or electrical design of the production cell, including the interaction of all components and the introduction of sensors and process control for quality assurance and effective costing. The development of an overall system architecture for manufacturing in small batches must include all manufacturing aspects from product design up to the final product. For that reason, efforts must be made to analyse the spectrum of workpieces for their possible degree of automation. If necessary, re-designs or new developments will be made using CAD. Furthermore, the organisation of data flow, relating to process planning, process engineering and manufacturing operation management, as well as the organisation of material flow (raw material, prefabricated parts, tools, etc.) will be a further main aspect of this project. Last but not least, advanced technology including robots, sensors and NC-technology as well as databases and programming systems for the manufacturing process itself must be taken into consideration. The interfacing of all components will enable fast adaptation to changing production situations as well as the supervision of the manufacturing process itself to ensure high quality. Furthermore, feedback information from the production cell to design and production planning will be possible. This will enable the design and manufacturing process to be optimised. Additionally, rapid and effective costings for tenders are possible. The concept of the project shows a completely new strategy for the fully automated, cost-effective manufacture of components in small batches. At present, a lot of work in this field of manufacturing is done manually because of the frequent changing of parts. Existing manufacturing systems are not as flexible as they should be for manufacturing in small batches, and, for that reason, they are not efficient in this field of production. Therefore, the aim of this project to build up an overall system architecture is innovative and will lead to competitive manufacturing in small batches. As major equipment, an NC-plasma cutting system, a robot system and a VAX workstation will be used. At the moment, the welding operation is done manually and will be automated by robot welding. Today, for cutting an oxy-acetylene cutting machine is in use. This machine has no interfacing facilities. It is advisable to replace it with an advanced plasma cutting station. For the software development, the partners have agreed to use a VAX workstation to ensure software compatability and software support also after the project has finished.
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Project costs: 
3 430 000.00€
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Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.