Need help with Ideas for implementing an automation process

  • Hi Everyone,


    I need help building an automated tool that takes roughly 4000 fasteners belonging to roughly 100 categories (types of screws, bolts, washers, nuts) and categorizes and inspects every fastener and packages together and labels those packages as "Category A - working", "Category B - Defective", "Category C - Working", etc.

    I need help with the mechanical & electrical design of this system.

    You can assume categorization and inspection is done using some vision based modules.


    Regards,

    pyronic

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  • From my research, a bin picking robotic arm could you used to pick and place objects in an inspection area. Once it is detected which category it belongs to, it can be moved to an area reserved for that category by the robotic arm itself.


    My questions are:

    1. Is the architecture proposed above doable? Are there better ways to do the same?

    2. How do I design the modules (robotic arm, control module for the arm, inspection system, storage area, packaging mechanism) within this architecture? Do open source solutions exist? Or do I buy that module?


    I hope I can ask more specific questions as the direction becomes clearer to me!

  • You have total of 4000 items? In the lifetime of project? Get some cheap labour to do it, but it would probably be faster to just do it yourself instead of teaching someone distinction between each type and definition of good and bad.

    Otherwise, you need to know how often do you get a batch of 4000 items, should you sort 4000 a day, a month, a minute? Depending on that you can see what to do. If there's no time limit you can just feed one by one item in some scaning station, make a scan, 3d laser scan or pictures or whatever you like, and dump it out to propper place. But you need much more details of limits, budget etc...

    What are you doing this for? Are you willing to hire someone to solve the problem for you? Or are you just having fun?

  • From my research, a bin picking robotic arm could you used to pick and place objects in an inspection area

    did you ever try robotic bin picking for just one kind of part, say 2" nail or 0.75" self tapping screw? once you succeed, multiply the problem by 4000.


    i recall someone asking this at a tradeshow about year ago. had idea of sorting and packaging discarded/scrapped fasteners that are dumped into a bin.

    did not explain why it is preferred to handle one random fastener at a time rather than just dump entire lot into recycling bin or melt it into ingots

    1) read pinned topic: READ FIRST...

    2) if you have an issue with robot, post question in the correct forum section... do NOT contact me directly

    3) read 1 and 2

  • did you ever try robotic bin picking for just one kind of part, say 2" nail or 0.75" self tapping screw? once you succeed, multiply the problem by 4000.

    That's the system we are trying to build now. Is there some place I can decide things like:

    1) What kind of robotic arm I should go for? (5 or 6 DoF)

    2) What are the available options to purchase this robotic arm? (Feature and cost comparison)

    3) Basics of designing the other modules that can be implemented by a beginner

    4) For bin picking can Reinforcement learning be used?


    We want to build a proof of concept for potential industrial clients. So we want to keep cost minimal for now.

  • Hi Affaltar, please find my answers below

  • So you have no knowledge of how to do something and you want to sell a claim that you know how to do it?

    Your budget is approximate price of 3d vision system for Fanuc (I don't have quote, just a Fanuc representative mentioned it in passing, it might be off), which is made to pick one kind of part from a box. Not including the robot, or anything else.

    My suggestion would be use some kind of shaker feeder to get one from the box, use a conveyor belt to move it to checking area, process it by camera and make some simple pneumatic sorting station with 2-3 lanes that you could make the sort easy. That should be well within budget. For final solution you need a very good scaning station that can recognize hundreds of different types and if they're in good condition, and you can either make a sorter yourself or just use a robot to drop it in a box, but I would avoid bin picking and just use some feeding mechanism to get to the station

  • $15000? Not even remotely. A single robot would cost you far more than that, before any tooling, grippers, safety guarding....


    Then you need a high-end vision system, and some kind of mechanical separator so that the vision system isn't trying to identify random pieces in a jumbled pile. Then there's the question of how the vision system is supposed to identify bad vs good fasteners.


    Then there's the problem of 4000 different kinds of fasteners -- most vision systems cannot retain memory for more than a dozen or two shapes at any given time, at best. So expecting to present a completely random mix of 4000 different fasteners to the vision system and expect it to identify and pick out each one is... really pushing the technology envelope. Not to mention that the vision system would have to be taught, manually, each and every fastener, and then taught the pass/fail criteria for each fastener.

  • 60sec * 4000 parts per week * 1/3600 hour/sec = 67 hours of error free operation.


    budget of $15000 is just laughable. it may at best cover cell guarding. but you still need to get robot ($30k+) and 3D vision ($70k+) and that is just begining and only some of the hardware. then comes labour (design, assembly, programming, testing etc). so robotic approach is just not going to cut it. unless your budget is at least two orders of magnitute larger.


    so to stay within budget you will need to forget about industrial automation and think radically different. check old episodes of junkyard wars and see what you can scavenge for free or for few bucks.


    for example using openCV (free), second hand PC (can be cheap if not free) and USB camera ($50) instead of industrial 2D vision (single camera $10k).


    instead of conveyors, robots etc. maybe mecanical sorter similar to what Affaltar mentioned. maybe some drum with cutouts for different shapes. this can be cascaded to progressively refine sorting results. could be several drums connected to each other and rotated together. and slots need to be replacable unless this is goung to be gargantuan contraption. .

    1) read pinned topic: READ FIRST...

    2) if you have an issue with robot, post question in the correct forum section... do NOT contact me directly

    3) read 1 and 2

  • Hi Everyone, thank you so much for your responses. Please find my response below in red.


    Then there's the problem of 4000 different kinds of fasteners -- most vision systems cannot retain memory for more than a dozen or two shapes at any given time, at best. So expecting to present a completely random mix of 4000 different fasteners to the vision system and expect it to identify and pick out each one is... really pushing the technology envelope. Not to mention that the vision system would have to be taught, manually, each and every fastener, and then taught the pass/fail criteria for each fastener.

    We plan to have our own vision & processing module.

    Current idea to first bin pick an object, move it to an inspection station, classify it correctly and then store it in the correct category.


    My suggestion would be use some kind of shaker feeder to get one from the box, use a conveyor belt to move it to checking area, process it by camera and make some simple pneumatic sorting station with 2-3 lanes that you could make the sort easy. That should be well within budget. For final solution you need a very good scaning station that can recognize hundreds of different types and if they're in good condition, and you can either make a sorter yourself or just use a robot to drop it in a box, but I would avoid bin picking and just use some feeding mechanism to get to the station

    The modules that you mentioned namely - shaker feeder, conveyor belt, pneumatic station, feeding mechanism are available for purchase separately?

    Or would we need to build them using even more basic parts?

  • "Is there some good place I can do a price + feature comparison of the available options for robotic arms?"

    for jobs on a budget you have no choice but to look at used robots. i don't know what range of fasteners you are planning to cover so i would assume small parts and hence small robot (but not too smal, you need reach). there are used robots resalers, eBay, auctions, ...


    "Okay, how would you suggest the correctly identified parts since there would be around 200 such categories (faulty and working for each of the 100 categories)"

    i would start by looking at samples. without seeing what they are cannot propose solution. it is the GIGO principle


    "But would they be accurate enough?"

    you tell me... what is the smallest feature you need to recognize? what is the smallest feature Kinect 3D can recognize.

    if "fasterners" are screws, nails, nuts, bolts, paper clips, etc, i think 3D is unnecessary complication. spread the parts and use 2D. bin picking is challenging enough when all parts are same. but throwing into a mix 4000 different parts would not make it any simpler


    "We plan to have our own vision & processing module."

    that is expected. i would not think that tapping into video stream of neighbours security camera would be ideal. but to start any project you really really really need to start by writing some specs. without numeric values any project is just a pipe dream. so far you only mentioned two numbers.


    no mention of shape or size of the products, there is a big difference between screw used in a cellphone and rivet used on a golden gate bridge.

    no mention of colors. when i check fasteners in HomeDepot there is silver, gold, black oxide, green and brwon for deck screws etc.

    no mention of distribution. if you get 4000 parts and 3999 are same, then you need receiving bin for 3999 parts. but if you don;t know which of 4000 possible parts is arriving in large quantities, all 4000 receiving bins need to be sufficiently large. what is the size of each of them? how do plan to arrange them so robot can reach them all? will this make it possible to remove and empty bins once they are full?

    no mention of ranges and tolerance, and list goes on and on...

    no spec -> no concept -> no ideas -> no project.



    "Current idea to first bin pick an object, move it to an inspection station, classify it correctly and then store it in the correct category."

    did you try sanity checks? i cannot stress enough that you first need to get some specs and NUMBERS.


    say one bin is just 100mm x 100mm and you can stack 10 of them on top of each other.

    that means for 4000 bins you still need to have 400 such stacks side by side. 400x 100mm = 40m.


    how big floor space you have there? even if you put robot on a track, that is one hell of a way to travel. do you know how much would CABLE cost for such track?



    1) read pinned topic: READ FIRST...

    2) if you have an issue with robot, post question in the correct forum section... do NOT contact me directly

    3) read 1 and 2

  • here are some examples that may fit the budget


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    1) read pinned topic: READ FIRST...

    2) if you have an issue with robot, post question in the correct forum section... do NOT contact me directly

    3) read 1 and 2

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