InfraBuild had a number of reasons for partnering with the Australian Cobotics Centre:
- improving working conditions for employees,
- reducing fixed costs
- increasing customer satisfaction with improved quality
It was also important to them that any solutions we developed fit into the existing operations and did not require significant modification of their plants, processes and equipment. The Shorts Project is the first project we have developed with InfraBuild and the first project of the Centre.
Researchers from the Biomimic Cobots program are working with Infrabuild’s Sydney mill to research and develop a high speed sensing and control system that is capable of identifying the steel bars and coils and have the ability to be able to work safely within relative proximity of their operators.
Infrabuild’s production line is unique, in that they produce a wide range of steel bars with different shapes and sizes. While this makes them unique capability-wise globally, current off-the-shelf solutions for automating this detection and removal process cannot deal with the variety of bars. Hence, our researchers and engineers are aiming to develop a flexible system using a Cobot with inbuilt and external sensors that shifts away from traditional automation approaches and can adapt to the different steel bars that they manufacture – even new ones in the future – while working safely around workers.
The project had two distinct phases of initial work to prove that a cobot could complete the task:
- The identification of the shortest bar in the group via an automated system
- The use of a cobot to remove the bar from a moving conveyor belt
This will result in better working conditions for employees who will now operate the cobot instead of complete the tasks, and a more accurate and efficient identification process, resulting in higher quality products for their customers.
The project also includes the input of the Centre’s Engineers from QUT’s REF group.
- providing safer working environment for their staff by removing humans from the dangerous part of the process
- potential for higher production efficiency as the system can run at all hours
- Andrew Thomas, InfraBuild
- Mark Christianson, InfraBuild
- Fred Sukkar, Australian Cobotics Centre Postdoctoral Research Fellow (UTS)
- Dasun Gunasinghe, Australian Cobotics Centre Lead Engineer (QUT)
- Gavin Suddrey, Australian Cobotics Centre Engineer (QUT)
- Teresa Vidal-Calleja, Australian Cobotics Centre Research Program Lead (UTS)
- Jonathan Roberts, Australian Cobotics Centre Director