This year’s Austrian Robotics Workshop (ARW) took place from the 10. – 12. May 2017 in Vienna’s Palais Eschenbach. The event combined the research fields of Computer Vision and Robotics and thus addressed the mutual interests of both disciplines. The workshop offered an ideal platform for research institutes with a respective focus for publishing their projects and research results. Furthermore, university students had the possibility to present their bachelor or master thesis to a specialist audience. Additionally, another essential focus of the event was laid on practical applications and the latest industrial developments.
The concept of the RobWood project was showcased within the framework of a poster presentation in the Austrian Robotics Workshop and included all of the essential software components of the project as well as the meaning and efficiency of the process sequence. For RobWood, the Austrian Robotics Workshop was a good opportunity to show current active work and research in the fields of automatization and flexibilization of wood processing.
The second test run at the prototyping workshop ECW, Zeltweg, aimed on automatic manufacturing processes for the production of a timber frame wall. Based on the requirements of traditional timber production companies the CAD-CAM interface to the robot cell was tested on a number of crucial production steps.
Optimal cutting parameters for gypsum board and OSB were assessed with respect to the use of circular saw blades and milling heads. The test results showed for both cutting systems accuracy, cutting speed and panel displacement was within the predefined manufacturing tolerances.
The automatic stapling of gypsum and OSB board with a heavy-duty gun tacker posed specific challenges to the power control, tacking speed, staple spacing and displacement of unfastened boards. For both panel types, the tacking power could be adjusted to gain the right staple depth. For the OSB panel protruding staples were not observed, whereas for gypsum boards a too deep penetration of the surface layer was avoided. Furthermore, the tacking did not affect the position of adjacent unfastened panels.
The production steps drilling of socket outlets and notching of panels were tested separately for gypsum and OSB board before applying each layer to the timber frame. The results showed that the achieved processing and positioning accuracy were within the defined tolerances. Both layers matched perfectly to each other and the stacking accuracy of the robot-based system met the expectations.
In the next test run (scheduled for October 2017) all processing steps will be integrated and the whole cladding of the timber frame wall will be done automatically by an industrial ABB robot.
Video test run:
With 160 exhibitors and 9,730 trade visitors, the new trade fair HANDWERK celebrated a successful premiere in Wels, Upper Austria. During the four day event, leading representatives and companies from a wide range of trades from all over Austria and neighboring countries displayed their innovations to an expert audience. The audience mainly comprised of carpenters, timber builders, metal workers, drywallers and painters.
This new fair format was a perfect place to promote the Robwood project and its objectives to potential end users. As part of the trade fair, the Association for Robots in Architecture discussed the opportunities offered by robotics in the construction sector. In addition, the Mechatronics Cluster of Upper Austria showcased the manifold opportunities of robotics for the artisan industry under the slogan “Jungle of Industry 4.0”. The presentations were mirrored by real-world demonstrations of industrial robot systems. In this setting RobWood was also presented in a poster session. The main objective of RobWood, namely the seamingless link between CAD software and the robot unit without the need of special programming knowledge raised high interest especially among small and medium sized companies.
First test of timber frame wall cladding 04/11/16
The identification of potentials for the use of robotics in the production of timber frame walls is of high relevance to the project partner Haas Fertigbau.
In several previous workshops, challenges concerning the data flow and the production process for wooden walls have already been identified.
In a follow up step the interface between CAD software and robot unit respectively robot unit and robot cell was defined. In a first test application the interface was utilized for the planking of a wooden post and beam element in original scale at the Engineering Center Wood in Zeltweg.
The precision-demanding production steps of cutting and positioning OSB boards on the beams were performed by an idustrial robot. The entire workflow including the tool change system was evaluated during the test run with a focus on efficiency and accuracy. Both the manipulation and the positioning of the OSB elements on an existing post-beam structure has been successful documented on video.
For the next test run the cutting of gypsum boards and the fastening of OSB and gypsum board with staples is foreseen.
Video of the test run at the ECW in Zeltweg
The first live application workshop on robot processing took place at Engineering Center Wood (ECW) in Zeltweg, Styria. Since 2012 Holzcluster Steiermark GmbH is operating the ECW as an industrial scale prototype workshop dedicated to the wood industry. The participants were introduced to the entire prototype production workshop based on an IRB 6640 industrial robot, including a robot cell and tool changing system. Due to the focus on wood processing, the plant is the perfect testbed for the first trials in the project.
Before the actual test run, the theoretical background and the design of the use case was presented by the project partners ABB and ASC.
The presentation of Mr. Völkl from the company ABB showed various applications of robotics and explained the data formats used along the toolchain, the layer structures and the applied postprocessors. Mr. Salchenegger from ASC continued with a demonstration on the use of the 3D visualization program Rhino as an important component in the generation of a valid robot code.
In the course of this project meeting all participants were able to sharpen their understanding of the entire process, such as:
- Formats and layers used in the data transfer
- Toolchains for the generation of robot code
- Automated production applications
- Limits of robotic systems
After the test-run, Holzcluster invited to a follow-up discussion on the lessons learned.
Workshops March and April 2016
One achieved aim of the previous workshops was to explain and visualize the data flow from the CAD software in use to the actual robot unit.
During the meeting both companies, Haas and Zarnhofer, presented their CAD system and described the whole planning process and data flow by using practical examples. The CAD System of the two industrial partners is different.
As an important result, the varieties and similarities in the work flows were demonstrated and compared. The participants from research agreed, that the provision of the workflows of the different software systems allows to move forward in the project and to clearly define the general RobWood production framework along with the specifications for the data interfaces required as a next step.
Another issue was the robot cell structure. The experts within the RobWood consortium, ABB and RIB SAA, presented their concept. By using a practical example the robot processing of a complete timber frame wall with all relevant manufacturing steps was regarded. As a specific challenge for robot cell structures for prefabricated timber elements, the large scale of the elements must be considered.
For an integrated approach, the workflow from the CAD/CAM software and the manual input required were discussed in the context of technological requirements, process efficiency and worker safety. At the end of the meeting, the participants agreed that key design aspects for the human – machine interfaces are process quality, worker interaction and overall safety requirements.
The second stakeholder workshop was held at the master carpentry company Zarnhofer Holzbau GmbH. The company employs up to 18 people depending on the seasonal production demand. The workshop has appr. 800 square meters where single family houses are manufactured. Every family house is planned and produced individually according to end user requirements, therefore the production chain is not configured for mass production.
Although Zarnhofer Holzbau GmbH is significantly smaller than Haas Fertigbau, the company faces basically the same challenges in planning and production although the company targets a different market segment. In order to identify potential differences in the requirements of the production set-up, the production process was shown and discussed with the participants. The discussion revealed that a direct comparison of the production organization between Zarnhofer Holzbau and Haas Fertigbau was very difficult. The experts needed to regard sub-processes and single production steps to come up with a common position. As a result of the second workshop the first interface concerning process specifications, data requirements, and data flow was drafted by the participating companies.
The first end-user workshop focussed on the existing technical setting of the timber company Haas Fertigbau Holzbauwerk GesmbH & Co KG and their specific requirements for the assembling of prefabricated timber frame walls. The participants were given a detailed explanation of the complete production chain from the production of the nail plate trusses until the on-site wall assembly of the single elements OSB board, vapor barrier and gipsum board with the production steps handling, cutting, stapling and drilling. Additionally a video presentation demonstrated the assembly of the prefab timber frame walls on the construction site.
In the subsequent discussion, the main focus was placed on the timber frame wall production. Here the application requirements were outlined for an automated applying of OSB board, vapour barrier, gipsum panel by a standard ABB robot. Furthermore, the challenges of the process of fastening the various layers to the timber frame and in the post-processing steps (drilling of power outlets, etc.) were detailed and discussed in the context of robotics.
The Kick-off meeting of the RobWood project was held in Graz, Austria on December 16, 2016.
The meeting was hosted by the project coordinator, Joanneum Research Forschungsgesellschaft mbH.
The main purpose of this meeting was to create a common understanding and to start a fruitful discussion on the concrete project activities, aims and milestones.
The RobWood project aims to increase flexibility in different contexts of production processes in timber construction industry. With a clear focus on enabling small and medium sized timber companies to exploit robotics in a “traditional” production environment by facilitating the direct translation of CAD plans into robot language. The RobWood approach uses model-based programming methods, which will enable companies to carry out the data transfer from the CAD file to the production machine without any deeper knowledge on traditional robot programming.
from left to right
1. Gerhard Paar JR-DIG
2. Sandra Murg JR-DIG
3. Herwig Zeiner JR-DIG
4. Michael Hofbaur JR-ROB
5. Víctor Juan Expósito Jiménez JR-DIG
6. Harald Mayer JR-DIG
7. Erhard Pretterhofer Holzcluster Steiermark GmbH
8. Mathias Brandstötter JR-ROB
9. Matthias Völkl ABB
10. Siegfrid Salchenegger ASC Performance OG
11. Stefan Maier RIB SAA Software Engineering GmbH
12. Philip Harrer Zarnhofer Holzbau GmbH
13. Florian Salmhofer JR-DIG
14. Manfred Zarnhofer Zarnhofer Holzbau GmbH
15. Ernst Lederwasch Zarnhofer Holzbau GmbH
16. Robert Jöbstl Haas Fertigbau Holzbauwerk GesmbH & Co KG
Work Packages Overview