Experienced Challenges When Implementing Collaborative Robot Applications in Assembly Operations
Staffan Karl Lennart Andersson, Anna Granlund, Jessica Bruch, and Mikael Hedelind
Division of Product Realisation, Mälardalen University
15 Hamngatan, Eskilstuna 632 20, Sweden
The industrial collaborative robot (ICR) application is a promising automation technology that combines human abilities with the repeatability and accuracy of an industrial robot. Yet, industrial challenges have prevented ICR applications from being implemented extensively in industry. Therefore, the purpose of the presented work is to deepen the knowledge of the key challenges that manufacturers experience during the implementation of ICR applications. In this study, a case study approach was used with eight companies to identify those challenges. The analysis of the qualitative data was conducted based on thirteen interviews with respondents from the industry to identify their challenges when implementing ICR applications. In this paper, a defined implementation process is presented that is combined with three significant areas of challenges relevant for the implementation of ICR applications, i.e., safety, knowledge, and functionality. Then, these areas are used as a basis to identify the corresponding challenges during the early implementation phases. The findings of the study point to an insufficient understanding of safety assessment and a lack of operator involvement in the pre-study phase that was propagated into the later implementation phases. The application design phase was identified to have several ad-hoc approaches due to a lack of knowledge concerning the application of ICR. In the factory installation phase, the challenges included increasing flexibility and ensuring standardised ways of working. This paper makes three distinct contributions to the research community. First, it provides rich data to the research concerning the implementation of applications of ICR, and it focuses on three areas, i.e., safety, knowledge, and functionality, and the challenges associated with their respective implementations. Second, contributions are made to the literature on implementing new technology, and they are focused on the early phases. Third, the results of this paper suggest that the role of system integrators might change in ICR application implementation projects. This paper contributes to practitioners a list of challenges that they might face during the implementation of ICR.
-  V. Villani, F. Pini, F. Leali, and C. Secchi, “Survey on human-robot collaboration in industrial settings: Safety, intuitive interfaces and applications,” Mechatronics, Vol.55, pp. 248-266, 2018.
-  W. Bauer, M. Bender, M. Braun, P. Rally, and O. Scholtz, “Lightweight robots in manual assembly – best to start simply!,” Frauenhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO, Stuttgart, 2016.
-  A. Hentout, M. Aouache, A. Maoudj, and I. Akli, “Human-robot interaction in industrial collaborative robotics: a literature review of the decade 2008-2017,” Adv. Robot., Vol.1864, No.33, pp. 15-16, pp. 764-799, 2019.
-  K.-D. Thoben, S. Wiesner, and T. Wuest, ““Industrie 4.0” and Smart Manufacturing – A Review of Research Issues and Application Examples,” Int. J. Automation Technol., Vol.11, No.1, pp. 4-19, 2017.
-  A. Fast-berglund, F. Palmkvist, P. Nyqvist, S. Ekered, and M. Akerman, “Evaluating Cobots for Final Assembly,” Procedia CIRP, Vol.44, pp. 175-180, 2016.
-  J. Krüger, T. K. Lien, and A. Verl, “Cooperation of human and machines in assembly lines,” CIRP Ann. – Manuf. Technol., Vol.58, No.2, pp. 628-646, 2009.
-  A. Cherubini, R. Passama, A. Crosnier, A. Lasnier, and P. Fraisse, “Collaborative manufacturing with physical human-robot interaction,” Robot. Comput. Integr. Manuf., Vol.40, pp. 1-13, 2016.
-  B. Siciliano and O. Khatib, “Springer handbook of robotics,” 2nd ed., Vol.46, No.06, Berlin Heidelberg, 2016.
-  S. Blankemeyer et al., “A method to distinguish potential workplaces for human-robot collaboration,” Procedia CIRP, Vol.76, pp. 171-176, 2018.
-  P. Akella et al., “Cobots for the automobile assembly line,” Proc. 1999 IEEE Int. Conf. Robot. Autom., Vol.1, pp. 728-733, 1999.
-  J. Bruch, C. Rösiö, and A. Granlund, “User-supplier collaboration in production equipment development – a lifecycle perspective,” Proc. of the 22nd Int. Annual EurOMA Conf. (EurOMA15), pp. 1-10, 2015.
-  T. Kopp, M. Baumgartner, and S. Kinkel, “Success factors for introducing industrial human-robot interaction in practice: an empirically driven framework,” Int. J. Adv. Manuf. Technol., pp. 685-704, 2020.
-  B. A. Kadir, O. Broberg, and C. Souza Da Conceição, “Designing human-robot collaborations in industry 4.0: Explorative case studies,” Proc. Int. Des. Conf. Des., Vol.2, pp. 601-610, 2018.
-  A. M. Djuric, R. J. Urbanic, and J. L. Rickli, “A Framework for Collaborative Robot (CoBot) Integration in Advanced Manufacturing Systems,” SAE Int. J. Mater. Manuf., Vol.9, No.2, pp. 457-464, 2016.
-  G. Charalambous, S. Fletcher, and P. Webb, “Identifying the key organisational human factors for introducing human-robot collaboration in industry: an exploratory study,” Int. J. Adv. Manuf. Technol., Vol.81, No.9-12, pp. 2143-2155, 2015.
-  A. C. Simões, A. L. Soares, and A. C. Barros, “Factors influencing the intention of managers to adopt collaborative robots (cobots) in manufacturing organizations,” J. Eng. Technol. Manag. – JET-M, Vol.57, 101574, 2020.
-  A. A. Malik and A. Bilberg, “Framework to implement collaborative robots in manual assembly: A lean automation approach,” Ann. DAAAM Proc. Int. DAAAM Symp., pp. 1151-1160, 2017.
-  R. K. Yin, “Case Study Research and Applications: Design and Methods,” 6th Edit. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, Inc., 2018.
-  M. B. Miles, A. M. Huberman, and J. Saldana, “Qualitative data analysis: a methods sourcebook,” Thousand Oaks: Sage, 2020.
-  T. Baines, “An integrated process for forming manufacturing technology acquisition decisions,” Int. J. Oper. Prod. Manag., Vol.24, No.5, pp. 447-467, 2004.
-  L. Gualtieri, E. Rauch, and R. Vidoni, “Emerging research fields in safety and ergonomics in industrial collaborative robotics: A systematic literature review,” Robot. Comput. Integr. Manuf., Vol.67, 101998, 2021.
-  E. Danneels and K. Elko, “Product Innovativeness From the Firm’s Perspective: Its Dimensions and Their Relation with Project Selection and Performance,” J. Prod. Innov. Manag. An Int. Publ. Prod. Dev. Manag. Assoc., Vol.18, No.6, pp. 357-373, 2001.
-  B. Verworn, “A structural equation model of the impact of the ‘fuzzy front end’ on the success of new product development,” Res. Policy, Vol.38, No.10, pp. 1571-1581, 2009.
-  I. Aaltonen, T. Salmi, and I. Marstio, “Refining levels of collaboration to support the design and evaluation of human-robot interaction in the manufacturing industry,” Procedia CIRP, Vol.72, pp. 93-98, 2018.
-  L. Wang et al., “Symbiotic human-robot collaborative assembly,” CIRP Ann., Vol.68, No.2, pp. 701-726, 2019.
-  Y. Shen, G. Reinhart, and M. M. Tseng, “A design approach for incorporating task coordination for human-robot-coexistence within assembly systems,” Proc. of the 9th Annu. IEEE Int. Syst. Conf. SysCon 2015, pp. 426-431, 2015.
-  J. Zhang and X. Fang, “Challenges and key technologies in robotic cell layout design and optimization,” Proc. Inst. Mech. Eng. Part C, J. Mech. Eng. Sci., Vol.231, No.15, pp. 2912-2924, 2017.
-  S. Hirata and M. Yasuoka, “Consideration of tacit knowledge sharing by automation for reinforcement of human abilities: Empirical comparison of conservation techniques between Japan and Denmark,” Int. J. Automation Technol., Vol.12, No.4, pp. 553-563, 2018.
-  S. Weyer, M. Schmitt, M. Ohmer, and D. Gorecky, “Towards industry 4.0 – Standardization as the crucial challenge for highly modular, multi-vendor production systems,” IFAC-PapersOnLine, Vol.28, No.3, pp. 579-584, 2015.
-  G. B. Benitez, N. F. Ayala, and A. G. Frank, “Industry 4.0 innovation ecosystems: An evolutionary perspective on value cocreation,” Int. J. Prod. Econ., Vol.228, 107735, 2020.
-  K. Shinoda, H. Noda, K. Ohtomi, T. Yamada, and J. Akedo, “Promotion of knowledge and technology transfer towards innovative manufacturing process: Case study of new hybrid coating process,” Int. J. Automation Technol., Vol.13, No.3, pp. 419-431, 2019.
This article is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.