Matthew Shields

Aims

Industry broadly looks to increase inspection speeds for non-destructive testing (NDT) in order to lower throughput time in manufacturing facilities. Within industries which manufacture large scale components, physical constraints often mean that parts cannot be taken to specialist NDT and metrology cells easily. One method for overcoming both of these obstacles could be through process-to-part inspection, taking NDT processes to the part regardless of its location in a manufacturing facility. This would save on transporting the part to a dedicated NDT cell as part of the manufacturing line and would also enable flexible inspection at any stage of manufacturing. 

This project aims to enable process-to-part inspection through the use of mobile robotic, collaborative manipulators (mobile-cobots). These are safe to use in human shared environments and can enable flexible collaborative working between people and robots. Looking to utilise these to enable greater flexibility in the delivery of NDT sensors. 

Objectives

  • Evaluation of the hardware state of the art and down selection of appropriate technologies 
  • Development of a software framework to allow for flexible deployment of NDT inspection 
  • Evaluation of mobile-cobots as a method for NDT sensor delivery 

Progress to Date 

The accuracy of several existing products in the marketplace has been investigated and another parallel project has evaluated the accuracy of one such system. Planning and implementation of several parts of the software has begun, with specimen scanning and reconstruction and end effector path planning already having early-stage implementations. Currently cobot manipulator reachability is being assessed in order to work towards automated base placement in path planning.