Automated offline programming for low volume robotic manufacturing – University of Wollongong
Dr Joseph Polden’s PhD thesis was focussed on the programming of industrial robots for manufacturing applications. Mass production of robotic devices has significantly reduced their cost, however, programming these robots in a cost-effective manner is still difficult and poses many challenges to industry. The research conducted in Joe’s thesis focussed on developing a virtual environment in which industrial robot programming can be carried out in. In this setting, virtual models of the robots and their environment are used to create, simulate and validate robot programs before they are uploaded into the real world robotic system for use. By programming robots this way, automation can be introduced into programming process, which significantly reduces programming times and also optimises the overall process.
Joe’s project had an industry partner through the DMTC network who was in possession of a complex robotic system used for welding. With new product variants expected, the anticipated cost of re-programming the robot cell to perform the required manufacturing tasks was very high. As a result of the work carried out during Joe’s thesis, he was able to provide the industry partner with a programming method which significantly reduced their operating costs. Joe grew a great deal of satisfaction from being involved from the outset of the development and to witness it go from a conceptual idea to a functioning, useful piece of technology.
Manufacturing is a truly global industry, which is constantly evolving due to local economic climates. Joe always wanted to be able to travel as part of his job, and shortly after finishing his PhD was able to join a manufacturing research institute in Singapore, where he now works as a research fellow, conducting research in robotic manufacturing for Small to Median Enterprise applications.