The introduction of robotic repair solutions to maintenance activities and facilities can enhance maintenance effectiveness and improve the safety of our workforce. In recognition of the value of robotics to U.S. businesses, academia, and government, the DoD established in 2017 the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Innovation Hub as the eighth DoD-led institute. ARM is integrating the diverse collection of industry practices and institutional knowledge across many disciplines to realize the promises of a robust manufacturing innovation ecosystem that includes emerging DoD robotic technologies such as collaborative robotics, robot control (learning, adaptation, and repurposing), autonomous navigation and mobility, and testing, verification, and validation. This forum will include a presentation from the ARM Consortium, an update on the Joint Robotics Organization for Building Organic Technologies (JROBOT), and a description of select Military Service capabilities.
The purpose of these forums is to provide/exchange information and ideas on new maintenance-related technology. Each month will focus on a different technology focus area and will identify new capabilities being developed and implemented in support of DoD maintenance activities. Participants are encouraged to ask questions using the DCO chat tool. For more information and to review past forums go to the JTEG website at http://jteg.ncms.org/
1300-1309: Welcome – Greg Kilchenstein (OSD-MR) Presentation
1309-1310: Administrative Notes – Debbie Lilu (NCMS)
1310-1330: DoD’s Advanced Robotics in Manufacturing (ARM) Institute Overview – Dr. Greg Hudas (Army Futures Command) Presentation
1350-1410: 402nd Maint Group Robotics Overview – Shane Groves (WRAFB) Presentation
1410-1430: Multi-Purpose End Effector – Tim Eden (ARL/PSU) Presentation
1430-1450: Robotic Hull Crawler – Joe Murphy (NAVSEA) Presentation
Event: On 3 December 2019, the Joint Technology Exchange Group (JTEG), in coordination with the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS), hosted a virtual forum on “Automation and Robotics in Maintenance”.
Purpose: The purpose of this forum was to provide a presentation from the ARM Consortium, an update on the Joint Robotics Organization for Building Organic Technologies (JROBOT), and a description of select Military Service capabilities.
Welcome: Greg Kilchenstein OSD(MR) welcomed everyone to the forum and thanked the presenters and all the listeners for their attendance. He also stated how important automation and robotics are to improving safety, efficiency, and effectiveness within the DoD maintenance community.
Administrative: This was an open forum. The presentations, along with questions and answers, were conducted through the Defense Collaboration Services (DCS) and Adobe Connect. A separate audio line was used. Approximately 60 participants from across DOD, industry, and academia joined in the forum.
DoD’s Advanced Robotics in Manufacturing (ARM) Institute Overview: Dr. Greg Hudas (Army Futures Command) discussed the eight DoD Innovation Institutes, focusing primarily on the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) established in January 2017 in Pittsburgh, PA. DoD institutes are part of the Manufacturing USA network: a whole-of-government effort, in partnership with industry & academia that strategically align resources to address targeted technology spaces. ARM’s strategy is to accelerate innovation to drive U.S.-based growth in manufacturing while developing domestic robotics expertise to create high-value careers. ARM advances new robotic technologies to ensure that the U.S. retains its global leadership in manufacturing to help secure the supply chain and the warfighters who rely on these capabilities. ARM is developing an educational partner network to develop messaging around robotics and automation careers, develop and promote broad participation in ARM certification and education programs, and encourage a robotics/automation industry- recognized stackable credential. In 2017, ARM began construction on a one-of-a-kind advanced manufacturing hub in Pittsburgh, bringing together large-scale academic research and corporate development under one roof.
Joint Robotics Organization for Building Organic Technologies (JROBOT) Update: Steve McKee (NAVSEA) explained how the US government and allied partners do not have integrated or shared avenues to leverage investments in research and development to harness advancements in robotic technology for maintenance efforts, and described a solution he is leading. Establish a JROBOT group from the Organic Industrial Base (OIB) with existing research and development activities to identify needs and deliver solutions to affect readiness, develop and maintain a roadmap for future capabilities that span common functions, and collaborate with the DoD ARM Institute to engage industry and academia to deliver coordinated solutions. The first Joint Summit: Robotics in Sustainment, held in March 2019, accomplished those goals, and is currently working to: develop OSD guidance recommendations, select and prioritize capability needs to field robotic solutions, coordinate and standardize activities into established DoD maintenance processes and procedures, and maintain the Robotics In Sustainment Roadmap. A second JROBOT summit, to be conducted on 24-28 Feb at ARM will focus on crafting a DoD-wide policy to support use of robotics in sustainment, crafting DoD-wide trade/skill descriptions for submittal to OPM, initiate a number of projects identified from the first summit, and expand interface to industry, academia and 5-Eyes partners to achieve needed sustainment enhancements. If you would like to attend, please talk with your JTEG or ManTech Principal.
402nd Maint Group Robotics Overview: Shane Groves (WRAFB) discussed CMXG Robotics efforts including their beginning with Articulated Arm Robot Use in 2002, rapid growth since 2017, current goals for robotic applications, and the path forward to include equipment standardization. The decision was made to standardize to Fanuc robots based on CMXG’s own experience and maintenance history, and the fact that Fanuc has the majority of the market share. Shane explained their reasons for robotic implementation as ESOH risk reduction, increased capacity, and improved quality, and he listed and described current robotic applications in the CMXG. Lastly, he listed some robotic applications and new technologies coming soon to the CMXG.
Multi-Purpose End Effector: Tim Eden (ARL/PSU) discussed the design of an integrated repair system for shipboard applications called a multifunctional end effector system that consists of a portable robot with a multi-use end effector which would enable the Navy to more efficiently perform shipboard repairs. The system uses a Robotic Technologies of Tennessee (RTT) developed mobile robot with a magnetic track system capable of climbing a steel wall. The selected quick-release end effectors technologies are LIDAR scanning for workspace mapping, Plasma blast coating removal, Grinding surface preparation, and Cold spray surface repair. A link of a demonstration of the portable robot with the multi-use end effector is below:
Robotic Hull Crawler: – Joe Murphy (NAVSEA). Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNS) has been tasked as the lead yard for shipboard robotic solutions. The Robotic Hull Crawler is one of six robotic programs that the PNS Laboratory and Innovation Office are currently working on. A prototype of the Hull Crawler Robot is being actively tested and is expected to provide the following benefits:
- More efficient process
- Greater safety for workers
- Shorter maintenance duration
$3.1M in SBIR has been committed to advance robot capabilities. SEA04 funded five units with two received to date, and delivery of the final three in January 2020. Norfolk Naval Shipyard will receive their first delivery in Feb 2020.
Q&A – A Q&A occurred after each briefer finished their presentation. Questions and answers will be posted on the JTEG website with these minutes.
Closing Comments: Greg Kilchenstein thanked the presenters for their contributions and all the work being done to support automation and robotics efforts within DoD sustainment. He suggested continuing the information exchange beyond the forum and the importance of collaboration within the DoD maintenance community.
- Work to get the briefing slides cleared for “public release”, and then post them on the JTEG website at http://jteg.ncms.org/ .
Next JTEG Meeting: The next scheduled JTEG virtual forum is 28 January 2020, 1:00 – 3:00 pm EST. The topic is “Corrosion Prevention and Control”.
POC this action is Ray Langlais, firstname.lastname@example.org , (571) 633-8019
ARM – Dr. Hudas
Q1. Of the 50 projects underway, how many are directed toward sustainment?
A1. It is hard to say where it bleeds over between manufacturing and sustainment. Approximately 30% are apprentices. Any government agency can participate. I’ll try to put something out there.
Q2. Can you explain what a TIA is and what the advantages and limitations are?
A2. Tech investment agreement. Similar to an OT. There is a cost share element and government strategy.
Q3. How can the sustainment community most effectively influence the selection and execution of ARM projects?
A3. Best way to do it is to include dual use commercial use projects. I have existing projects.
Q4. Can JROBOT be represented on your technology advisory committee?
JROBOT – Steve McKee
Q1. Where are the resources coming from to execute the JROBOT efforts?
A1. ARM Institute is funding $2-3M of the first project call. Also, Steve McKee (NAVSEA) and Shane Groves (USAF) are advocating for the technology with their military Services.
Q2. The proposed Projects, does any address the PMCS/Daily Maintenance of the Robotic System?
A2. There are no funded projects right now. It would definitely be a great topic for a future project call.
CMXG Robotic Projects – Shane Groves (WRAFB)
Q1. What has been your experience regarding robot system sustain-ability? Is it affordable? Do the OEMs continue to support older systems?
A1. Yes, it is affordable. We have had very good support from the vendor. We buy all the drawings and data to support organically.
Q2. Why is standardizing to a limited number of robot OEMs important when trying to accelerate robotic mx operations?
A2. Because it helps us be successful.
Q3. Is there a plan in to include how robots (IoT) are connected to the network?
A3. Cybersecurity is a huge deal. There is no plan to connect to the network yet.
Q4. Does the Integrator provide day-to day maintenance and support?
A4. We have the integrator include about 2 weeks of production support as part of the equipment delivery. After that our local maintenance department provides the maintenance support and our robotics team provides the operational support.
Q5. How do you calculate and present the readiness and cost benefits of robotic operations? Is there a process you can share?
A5. . The process is different for every robotic application, and it depends on why a robotic solution is being considered. The general ideas would be to determine why you think a robotic system would benefit your process and then see of the savings justify the purchase. Examples:
- Safety – Our dry media blast robots remove personnel from hazardous environments (Cadmium, Hex-Chrome, Lead, etc).
- Capacity – Our new mobile robot can de-fasten an F15 wing 8 hours faster than the old method.
- Quality – Our radome paint robot, removed all the rework associated with hand painting.
- A combination of any of the above – It is very likely that any robotic application will address all three of the factors above and therefore justifications can be drawn from each.
Q6. How seamlessly are robotic innovations at WR-ALC being transferred to other AF ALCs?
A6. Within the same application, very seamless.
Q7. What kind of ESOH considerations do you have to address during the stand-up of robotic operations?
A7. The main concern with robotic systems is to protect the operator from the robot while it is operating. That can be addressed with fencing, light/laser scanners, door interlocks, and/or collaborative robotics (robots designed to work around people).
Q8. Is auto path planning a product of Fanuc?
A8. It is not, while Fanuc has RoboGuide that will do some CAD to path, it does not address collisions, reach errors, return home safe, and/or collision avoidance while in manual mode. There are several integrators that have developed what we call auto path planning software that addresses all the things listed above. This software is often compatible with most robot brands.
Q9. How far along are you with our Robotic training program and certification?
A9. There is no training standard. We are developing our own beginning, intermediate, and advanced training. We want to provide the workers with another career path.
Q10. How do you manage Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE); availability, performance, quality?
A10. Our robotics team would manage OEE. It is imperative for everyone from the operator to senior leadership to understand that there will be issues and that the system will not work as intended on the first day. With a properly specified system, these issues can be addressed and managed to maximize the OEE. It takes commitment and a team dedicated to making it work.
Q11. What has been your experience in getting the workforce to accept robotic operations? Is there any pushback?
A11. The workforce has been very receptive, particularly due to the improved worker conditions. Robots take the “dirty” jobs, and create more technical jobs.
Q12. How much involvement and approval is needed by the PM office to establish robotic processes?
A12. If it is a new process (laser depaint / additive manufacturing), quite a bit of approval is required. If we are simply moving from painting manually to painting robotically, not much involvement is needed. There are times when certain Technical Orders (T.O.s) were written specifically around manual equipment (i.e. – manual paint guns) and they need to be reworded to allow the use the robotic equipment. The robotic systems would be validated with the use of coupons or some other val/ver process.
Q13. Does WR-ALC act as the integrator for these robotic systems or do you contract that work?
A13. We typically contract that work. We did integrate the majority of our Fluorescent Penetrate robot, due to budget and time limitations.
Q14. What are the most significant limitations to using robots for maintenance operations?
A14. Until recently, the biggest limitation has been a lack of auto-path planning. No, with auto-path planning capabilities, it is keeping qualified personnel in the workforce.
Q15. It looks like the robots are handing discrete work-cell operations. Are they integrated into a multi-function production process?
A15. We are moving in the direction of multi-use systems. Our Mobile Multi-Use Robotic Systems (MMURS) are designed to drill, defasten, inspect/scan, and mill. The flexibility and versatility of robotic systems allows other processes to be added to existing systems as long as the payload and reach requirements can be met. For example, we have added a cold spray process to our other thermal spray robots, and added microwave mapping to our radome paint and radome repair robots.
Q16. Comment. CISCO has a secure network they are using with industry robots.
A16. FYI. No Reply Needed.
Integrated Corrosion Systems – Tim Eden
Q1. Can you explain what you mean by a “hybrid system”?
A1. One end effector. Want to do 3 or 4 operations.
Q2. How closely is this team working with Shane and his team on multi-end-effector robotic efforts? Are you actively collaborating via JROBOT?
A2. No, but I would like to change that.
Q3. Is end-effector change automated? …or is this currently a manual operation?
A3. Currently, it is a manual operation. It is a lever that you move and rotate the part. 15 seconds on, 15 seconds off.
Q4. The changing end effectors have different geometry and create multiple 3D points in space. How has that problem been addressed?
A4. We have done it so far, with regards to the end effector, we build the holding fixture on the end. We use the programmer to keep the dimension we need with simple geometry.
Q5. How do you handle the variation in path planning between operations such as blast and cold spray application?
A5. The robot has an I-pass or teach pendant using a simple geometric path.
Robotic Hull Crawler – Joe Murphy (NAVSEA).