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Dual Robot Operations in U of I Manufacturing Cell

During the 2018 summer-fall capstone cycle, four seniors (Mark Leitner, Faihan Aldouseri, Abdulmuhsen Alhajeri, and Iulian David) collaborated in creating a simulated manufacturing process that involved two robotic arms working in consort, part feeding, bar code scanning, assembling fixtures, and conveyor transporting finished goods. All members of the team took the inaugural technical elective offering on Industrial Automation that coincided with the first half of the project. This course was featured in the fall 2018 issue of the ME newsletter.

In the capstone project that concluded in December, the team leveraged knowledge about WINCAPS III Software, Arduino Ethernet, two Denso controllers, solid modeling skills, and machining know-how acquired in the lean manufacturing class. Ultimately, six different part configurations could be assembled in the cell based on bar code information stored on each part. The scanner allowed the robots to work together in sorting the parts and using a special end-effort to assemble the parts, ultimately resulting on a different delivery point for each part at the end of the conveyor. Based on the robot cell capabilities demonstrated in this project, more complicated end-effectors and material handling systems can be tackled in future projects.

Pic 1: Robot 1 in rest position. Pic 2: Material handling ramp. Pic 3: Cognex scanner. Pic 4: Robot 2 with push finger end effector. Pic 5: Product delivery conveyor.
Pic 1: Robot 1 in rest position. Pic 2: Material handling ramp. Pic 3: Cognex scanner. Pic 4: Robot 2 with push finger end effector. Pic 5: Product delivery conveyor.

The department is indebted to the Boeing Company for supplying the two Denso robots and controllers that represent the core infrastructure for our robotic manufacturing cell. Among team members, the project experience spawned interest in future manufacturing roles involving automation. Learning outcomes included methods for design validation, strategies for synchronizing robot movement, debugging WINCAPS code, communicating with vendors, and defining specific locations within the workspace.


Article by Mark Leitner

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