Research & Development (R&D) is responsible for developing innovative solutions and for managing AWL's product portfolio. We make sure that our customers stay ahead in a world which in the coming years will be dominated by technology, automation and robotization. That is in our DNA.
We help customers so that they always keep their lead.
By following market trends, listening to our customers, using our common sense and our expertise, we can offer answers and solutions for the challenges with which we are all faced. We do this by carrying out innovation projects and by working on open innovation. For AWL, open innovation means that we actively participate and collaborate in innovation projects with customers, suppliers, partners, universities and knowledge institutes.
We are convinced of the necessity of innovation for a more viable future.
3D metal printing
AWL has gained experience with printing metal components in 3D. We want to use this technology increasingly for the production and integration of complex custom components in our machines. This enables us on the one hand to offer customization, and on the other hand to deliver machines faster. AWL is investigating further possibilities for applying 3D metal printing in its machines.
The collaboration between people and robots is becoming more important all the time, because in many industries, production has shifted from large batches with little variation to low volumes with great variation. This means more variety and more human interventions. Collaborative automation enables people and robots to contribute their own unique and strong points; people offer process knowledge, insight and flexibility, while robots deliver inexhaustible endurance for repetitive tasks.
AWL has fitted a robot with a 2D camera for palletizing goods. This gives the robot a pair of eyes, with depth, object and error detection. The robot uses this to detect the position of the part and the pallet, and can perform actions to millimeter accuracy. An environment has been built in the AWL Experience Center to test different exposure methods and cameras.
Web-based Human Machine Interface
HMIs provide the most of the interaction between the machine and the operator. The HMI must be simple for the operator, supply the correct diagnosis for the service mechanic and provide a clear visualization of the production data to the factory manager. AWL has started with the development of a web-based HMI. The greatest benefit of switching to a web-based environment is the flexibility offered by the technology. Soon, the HMI will be accessible via a laptop, panel and smartphone.
With augmented reality (AR), virtual information is projected over the real thing. AWL is investigating ways of applying AR in machine building.
The first potential application of AR is now available as a demo. This application can be used to check whether the jig's cabling is in the right place, and whether it is in the way for the welding torches. AWL also sees augmented reality as a possible solution for smart maintenance by visualizing operator instructions.
Bin picking allows the robot to pick randomly-placed parts from a box, AWL applies this application to automatically load machines. It runs at high speed and with high precision by using advanced algorithms. For bin picking it’s important to select the right scanner for the localization of parts, designing a good multiple point gripper to realize optimal picking and robot simulation of the path is needed to prevent collision and improving the success rates. AWL has build-up a strong experience in vision applications which allows easy adaption to each highly automated production environment, all over the world. This allows our customers to exploit machines with less operators (necessary because of the scarcity of employees), higher quality and reliable quantity output.
An SDV (Self-Driving Vehicle) is a robot that uses laser observation and artificial intelligence to navigate autonomously from A to B. Applications for SDVs include transporting materials in automated factories or warehouses. With an eye to the automated future, including Made in China 2025, AWL is investigating SDV applications in the production processes of our customers.
The AWL GeoEditor is a smart application developed by AWL to facilitate the programming of robots for the laser welding of complex shapes. The GeoEditor makes it possible to load a complex shape from a CAD program. Optimizations and corrections to the movements can subsequently be made directly on the robot control panel. This shortens the programming time from several hours to just a few minutes. In this way, the GeoEditor delivers a shorter delivery time. Moreover, the GeoEditor simplifies the maintenance of the welding processes of our customers and increases flexibility in responding to process and product changes.
In-line process inspection with laser welding
Safety components are often welded using AWL machines, such as car seat parts where the passenger is protected by the seat in the event of an accident. This demands a constant level of high quality. Our laser welding in-line process inspection is an automated quality control process, whereby during or immediately after the laser welding, a check is made whether the laser weld seam has been welded with the right quality. With the in-line process inspection, AWL ensures reliable production and demonstrable quality.
Start and stop times with arc welding
AWL is analyzing and improving the start and stop times, thus increasing the output for a robot arc welding combination. Up to now, we have achieved significant improvements in processing times. Together with the robot suppliers, we are improving robot software for the future.
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