Improving the Throughput of a GM Press Line

 

Robert M. Goor

 

President, Shain Park Consultants, Inc.

 

 

In the fall of 1992, we were asked to apply previous work on robot control to a press line in a General Motors plant in Lansing, Michigan.  The goal was to improve the throughput of the line by at least 10%.

 

This request was consistent with demonstrated results of earlier research.  That work showed that it was possible to improve the dynamic accuracy of a robot virtually to the measurement limit of its encoders, and, in concert with the higher accuracy, reduce cycle times by 20%-65%, depending on the task.  However, in all previous tests, the robot had a limited interaction with its environment.  Now, for the first time, the robots would be required to handle material and to maneuver around moving obstacles in the form of presses.

 

We assessed the existing transfer line and came to the conclusion that speeding up the robots would not be sufficient to achieve the target improvement.  Instead, a completely integrated system design that could be programmed easily to coordinate multiple devices was required.

 

We will discuss the systems integration approach that allowed us to demonstrate a 25% increase in throughput, while simultaneously improving system safety.

 

Friday, October 5, 2001

3:30 - 5:00 p.m.

1500 EECS