Automated Assembly Technology Continues to Increase Productivity

DMTC’s Automated Off-Line Programming (AOLP) capability has been successfully deployed on several naval and protected vehicle platforms by Australian defence industry. The capability allows a robotic assembly cell to self-program directly from the digitised assembly drawings and during operation can account for deviations in the component positions when physically jigged compared to the digitised assembly model.

In late May, the next evolution of the technology was successfully demonstrated to senior engineers and managers from Thales Australia. The focus of the AOLP capability has now progressed to application on welded tubular space frames. Space frames are a mass efficient way of constructing and tying together vehicle and platform systems and are gaining popularity in the design of lightweight vehicle chassis. Whilst they are a mass efficient way of building a chassis, the assembly process is difficult due to the numerous pipes and tubes that need to be precisely joined to each other in a 3-D web. AOLP can make this process more efficient by both positioning the tubes for welding and conducting the weld in an accurate and repeatable fashion.

Following the successful demonstration of the concept to Thales Australia at the welding laboratories at the University of Wollongong, DMTC researchers Stephen Pan, Nathan Larkin and their team are continuing to refine the technology for this new application. Beyond tubular space frames the AOLP technology has progressed sufficiently to now have potential application for other forms of assembly such as riveting, bolting and spot-welding. It is a capability that lends itself to future opportunities in cost effective mass-customisation where full scale production efficiencies and economies of scale can be realised while maintaining the option of bespoke one off productions and where configuration is limited only by the creativity of the design engineer.

Posted by DMTC on June 24th, 2014