Teaching robots is a time-consuming and laborious task, especially when you’re manually teaching robots. Particularly with robots of niche applications, use cases, and robots with complex movements or robots within specific environments like industries and production. Robotic technology is continuously evolving, and so is its complexity. However, robotic tech is also becoming easier to use, more accessible, and more adaptable with increasing complexity. Conversely, teaching robots through traditional approaches like Teach Pendants is getting more and more challenging and complex.
The Robotics industry is complex because of the sheer complexity of the technology and the cost of developing, building, and deploying a robot. Robot research and development and deploying robots are challenging tasks because of the sensitive nature of testing in robotics. Testing a robot is an expensive task. Consuming massive resources and time, testing robots along with training them is a very resource-intensive task.
However, due to the advancement of technology and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIR) inching closer and closer, industries are rushing towards digital technology and automation, which, in some scenarios like industries and production only possible with robots. Consequently, the importance of robotics in the production industry is increasing day by day. As a result, manufacturers and production sites are getting more eager to adopt their production line with robots with digital technology at its core. And manually teaching robots would only slow the production down and eventually leave you behind in the competition.
The Complexity in Robotics
With robotics comes its complexity. A robot is not a single entity but an integration of several different parts, components, and systems working together. These parts, components, and systems are usually various mechanical parts, motors, actuators, hydraulics, sensors, processing systems, networking interfaces, and many more. These components are very hard to build and even complex to perfect. Furthermore, integrating these parts to work together simultaneously with efficient cohesion to achieve a system that can perform specific tasks is complex on another level.
The integration may well be complete and the robot ready. But another major hurdle comes in the form of programming/coding the robot. Programming a simple robot with a particular function may be easy, but the robots that have to perform complex tasks while performing complex movements with precision are strenuous. This difficulty only scales up for industrial robots that have to accomplish tasks with accuracy and repeatability and perform various activities and functions within the production environment.
Why Manually Teaching Robots Will Hold You Back?
Programming a complex robot also requires a complex teaching process. The traditional approach to programming and coding robots is to use teaching pendants. Teaching pendants are a device that helps robot operators to control and program an industrial robot remotely. For example, these devices can code or teach a robot to follow a specific path or perform certain actions in a particular manner. With teaching pendants, robot operators or developers have to teach these robots manually.
Manual robot teaching may be easier on robots with low movement paths, simple actions, or singular axes. But industrial robots are a whole another story. They need to be constantly working in a usually adaptive and harsh environment of production. Such robots are complex and also very sensitive. Hence training the robots with teaching pendants is a difficult task. It is a very time-consuming task with the requirement of the teaching personnel to be present at all times. Furthermore, the robots have to be in teaching mode during all this time which means they cannot perform other tasks. Add this to the fact operators have to take them out of production during this long teaching process. All this makes manual teaching very cumbersome.
The downtime while teaching the robots is a massive issue to production. Moreover, this downtime is not only a one-time thing. Since industries have to be at the top of their game to thrive, they need to evolve and adapt over time. New changes and upgrades are necessary. Maintenance and repair works are inevitable. And even the failure of robots is not a common thing. All this requires teaching pendants, which is again very slow and a tedious approach to programming robots. It will add more delays, difficulties, costs and consume more resources. And this is a massive bottleneck for production.
Instead of wasting time in this slow and cumbersome manual approach, using new and better solutions with automation at its core is the way to go.
Learn About Offline Robot Programming
Offline Robot Programming is an “offline” approach to robot programming. Offline Programming (OLP) is a software solution to manually robot teaching by replacing the teaching pendants with simulation software. This “offline” solution teaches the robots virtually through software remotely. Thus, OLP takes leading away from the manual approach and takes out the requirement to remove the robots from production.
Although Offline Robot Programming is not a new technology, its evolution in recent years puts it in the spotlight in robot programming and the whole paradigm of robotics. It’s because of the advantages and benefits of using offline robot programming. Offline robot programming replaces the teach pendants with a more elegant solution. Furthermore, OLP allows for industries to train robots and their programming/coding through software updates. Robotic Programming Platforms also offer different software solutions to generate these instructions.
It means there is no need for the actual physical robot to be present in any generation phase or testing the training program/code. Instead, all this happens within the simulation technology inside the robotic programming platform itself. The evolution of simulation technology is so far ahead that it can now accurately simulate almost any object or environment with all the characteristics and behaviors of the original real-world object or environment.
Simulation technologies today can simulate every robot’s functionalities, features, and operations. Various behavior, states, and phenomena of robots and their components can simulate without manually teaching robots. Simulations can accurately simulate the mechanical elements of different parts with different materials and their operation in different environments and conditions. Along with this, fluid dynamics for air and water is also possible to simulate. Collisions, movements, etc., are also potential. It is due to the ability of simulations to accurately simulate and imitate the real-life physics of materials and the environment.
In addition to this, simulations can also imitate electronic components and processes. For example, it can accurately simulate the processing of CPUs and progressing units or even network interfaces and data exchange. Along with this, simulations can even test technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) with Machine Learning (ML) and deep learning. All these possibilities allow simulations to simulate all behavior, state, and properties of a robot along with its features and functionalities effectively.
Robotic simulation software solutions are already available, and different industries and companies are already leveraging their benefits. These simulations make innovative technologies like OLP possible to exist and thrive, creating manually teaching robots irrelevant. With offline robot programming, companies need not go back to the old approach of using teaching pendants. Such an old approach is very time-consuming while also requiring enormous resources, workforce, and investment. In contrast, OLP provides companies with elegant future-proof solutions that are effective and efficient.
OLP successfully reduces downtimes from production due to its ability to upload programming instructions in robots that they are working on without taking them out of the output. They can also enable new roads to generation and testing robot programs far from the manual testing method and age of robot codes or instructions. Simulations make it very easy to try these codes, while AI automation enables self-diagnosis and real-time optimization of production lines.
OLP is often seen as a technology that is very complex and requires high skills to utilize. There is a huge misconception that only the sides with deep pockets can afford to use OLP solutions, and there won’t be any demand for manually teaching robots anymore. But that is not the case. OLP solutions are pleasing on paper and easy to integrate and adapt even in existing production. Companies like FS Studio are working hard to bring out innovative solutions and state-of-the-art R&D technologies, including robotic OLPs, to make this transition of using OLP solutions smoother. With decades of experience and collective knowledge of various skillful people, FS Studio brings out solutions like Robotic Simulation Services for multiple companies and industries.
With the increasing pace of the industry’s move towards Industry 4.0, every industry is eagerly shifting towards digital technology while replacing old technologies like Teach Pendants with newer, more elegant, and efficient solutions like Offline Robot Programming platforms. Offline robot programming opens the road to newer possibilities and opportunities, enabling rapid prototyping, testing, training, and superior research and development, saving you from manually teaching your robots. In addition, it will help companies bring out efficient production and help them maximize their efficiency with a proven feat of achieving higher Return of Investment (ROI) in production lines and product innovation. Furthermore, this will help industries and companies innovate and remain at the top of their game to surpass and outperform their competitors.
Simulation in the digital twin can help the aerospace, manufacturing, and robotics industries in many ways.
How many times have you bought a new product only to find out it's defective? It is a huge problem that has affected many people in the manufacturing industry, and with simulation, we can help! A digital twin can be used for testing products before they are released. Let me show you how this works.
Imagine we have an airplane manufactured by company ABC Corp, and they want to make sure that their new plane design will work well without any defects. To know if their plane is safe enough, they need a simulator that displays the different flight conditions to test for safety. If the makers detect any problems during this simulation, they can fix them before production begins, so no one gets hurt.
This blog post explores the importance of simulation in digital twin technology for aerospace, manufacturing, and robotics. We will discuss why simulation is essential to these industries and how we can use it to improve efficiency.
Let's get started!
Simulation in digital twin for Aerospace:
Aerospace companies have become more competent. They are using digital twins to eliminate unplanned downtime for engines and other systems. Today, airlines can keep their aircraft in service longer due to digital twins' warnings.
A digital twin is the computer model of how an asset behaves in the aviation world. It accounts for variables like weather and performance to predict outcomes. The virtual model also provides actionable advice on what to do if things go wrong based on simulated scenarios. This strategy has been so effective at airlines that aircraft are flying more hours than ever before!
Digital twins are capable of recommending mission adjustments that will decrease wear on equipment, thus increasing longevity and success rate for a given operation.
Data analytics are a vital component of digital twins and can predict when an asset will fail. The sensors receive the data in real-time on specific failure points.
The models make predictions and help determine how long the running equipment has left before needing replacement or repair. It saves companies both money and valuable resources like human labor that would otherwise go towards maintenance efforts if they were done manually instead of digitally predicted.
Creating a digital twin is challenging without the necessary data. However, data about calibration details, the geometry of components, and mechanical assemblies could be enough for creating an effective model that will help improve quality assurance testing.
According to Aviation Today, "Boeing has been able to achieve up to a 40% improvement in quality of parts and systems it uses to manufacture its planes with the "digital twin." Essentially this means that before any aircraft component enters production, they are analyzed digitally using high-powered computers.
Imagine if you could test out how your new car will perform in any weather. Well, with digital twin replication that's possible! This virtual 3D model can go through a range of simulated environments like being underwater or enduring freezing temperatures - all before it ever leaves the assembly line.
Alongside these simulations are data fusion techniques that help gather information on an asset by combining different datasets such as images from sensors embedded into machines. Data fusion evolves alongside technological advances, keeping up-to-date with the piled-up data in volume, velocity, and variety. It can be crucial for businesses who want their products ready for anything life throws at them!
Data is the driving force in our industry. We produce an unimaginable amount of data every day, and it has to be processed by machines so that we can make sense out of it.
The flow from raw data to high-level understanding requires a complex fusion process at different levels: sensor-to-sensor, sensor-to model, and model--model fusion.
Designing a digital twin for one or more critical systems like airframe, propulsion & energy storage, life support, avionics, and thermal protection is recommended for success.
Digital Twin Simulation for Robotics:
For example, let's say you're building a machine that picks up parts from its bin. You want it to know where the function is and how big it is so your robot can grab them correctly without any mistakes or hiccups in production.
We need an algorithm trained by images of the items on top of our bins - which would then tell us what size each item was. We will also need a video feed captured by cameras positioned overtop these bins, giving us that cameras above images
A great example is bin-picking; people must manually place parts in many different configurations for a machine-learning algorithm to learn how it should pick up a part automatically.
This method is an example of supervised learning. When training a supervised learning algorithm, the training data will consist of inputted images paired with their correct outputs like bounding rectangles and labels describing what objects are in each image (e.g., "box," "can," etc.).
There's a lot to consider when you're teaching robots how to complete tasks. In addition to training them on what the job looks like, it also takes repetition before being trusted with delicate and potentially dangerous materials.
The robot must have had multiple rounds of practice for every task for its skill sets not only get better but continue improving overtime without any hiccups or errors that could lead to injury accidents down the line
A robust automation solution can take weeks and even months to converge, depending on the task. For example, a complex system will require more time than one which has few components. Additionally, some of your parts might be unavailable or still in production already - this could limit you from accessing them for training purposes.
"Digital Twin" is making significant leaps forward in industrial robotics, assisting manufacturers by not only setting up systems but also validating them for robust reliability using machine learning and integrated vision techniques. As a result, it can shorten the time taken significantly from months or years down to days.
In a virtual environment, the avatar replaces the real robot. So instead of spending all day in front of video screens and keyboards, it's now easy to do everything from your couch: launch a simulation on your computer and let the machine work for you!
In addition, the costs go down by about 90% because there are no lab fees or equipment setup charges.
Next, you bring your robotics into the physical world from the virtual.
The machine learning algorithm helps to learn what everyday objects and scenes look like when viewed by this device so that its actions are more in line with our expectations for how we would behave if given these inputs.
You can teach an old robot new tricks using AI-based facial recognition software!
Digital Twin: The Future of Manufacturing:
Digital twins are the future of manufacturing. With a digital twin, you can test and simulate before any mistakes happen with physical prototypes—saving time and money from costly errors that could have occurred through experimentation on materials or manufacturing processes.
In addition, manufacturers will never again risk releasing a defective product to market because they know what works beforehand thanks to their virtual representation by way of a "digital twin."
It is getting to market faster than their competitors is a challenge for companies. However, it can be possible with a digital twin as it cuts long steps shorter and reduces changes in production.
The product life cycle happens in the virtual environment where we can make all improvements much easier and quicker- perfecting efficiency and development time.
Imagine you have created this beautiful virtual prototype that has all the potential features. But, instead of wasting time test
One of the best features of digital twin technology is that it can help you predict problems before they happen. So, for example, every time one broke down, its virtual copy would start to analyze data from sensors to pinpoint any potential troubles.
It can solve many potential issues without any intervention from an operator by using predictive maintenance software that collects various sources of data through sensor readings to identify likely future complications with machinery. As a result, if you replace worn-out parts sooner rather than later, your manufacturing process will run more smoothly!
Simulation in the digital twin is reducing costs for industries.
For example, ASME reported, a 2020 study says that up to 89% of all IoT platforms will have a digital twin in 2025, while nearly 36% of executives across industries understand the benefits, with half planning for implementation within just five years from now.
If you're not already familiar with the concept of digital twins, then it's time to get up-to-date. A digital twin is a virtual representation that mirrors an existing physical system in real-time.
In other words, if your company has a manufacturing plant and wants to find ways to be more productive by reducing costs or improving product quality, implementing a digital twin may help!