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.
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