Automated assembly of industrial transformer cores utilising dual cooperating mobile robots bearing a common electromagnetic gripper

Postma, B 1999, Automated assembly of industrial transformer cores utilising dual cooperating mobile robots bearing a common electromagnetic gripper, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Department of Electrical Engineering, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Automated assembly of industrial transformer cores utilising dual cooperating mobile robots bearing a common electromagnetic gripper
Author(s) Postma, B
Year 1999
Abstract Automation of the industrial transformer core assembly process is highly desirable. A survey undertaken by the author however, revealed that due to the high cost of existing fully automated systems, Australian manufacturers producing low to medium transformer volumes continue to maintain a manual construction approach. The conceptual design of a cost-effective automation system for core assembly from pre-cut lamination stacks was consequently undertaken. The major hurdle for automating the existing manual process was identified as the difficulty in reliably handling and accurately positioning the constituent core laminations, which number in their thousands, during transformer core construction. Technical evaluation of the proposed pick-and-place core assembly system, incorporating two mobile robots bearing a common gripper, is presented herein to address these requirements. A unique robotic gripper, having the capability to selectively pick a given number of steel laminations (typically two or three) concurrently from a stack, has the potential to significantly increase productivity. The only available avenue for picking multiple laminations was deemed to be a gripper based on magnetism. Closed form analytical and finite element models for an electromagnet-stack system were contrived and their force distributions obtained. The theoretical findings were validated by experiment using a specially constructed prototype. Critical parameters for reliably lifting the required number of laminations were identified and a full scale electromagnet, that overcame inherent suction forces present in the stack during picking, was subsequently developed. A mechanical docking arrangement is envisaged that will ensure precise lamination placement. Owing to the grippers unwieldy length however, conventional robots cannot be used for assembling larger cores. Two wheeled mobile robots (WMRs) compliantly coupled to either end of the gripper could be considered although a review of the current literature revealed the absence of a suitable controller. Dynamic modelling for a single WMR was therefore undertaken and later expanded upon for the dual WMR system conceived. Nonlinear adaptive controllers for both WMR systems were developed and subsequently investigated via simulation. Neglecting the systems dynamics resulted in analogous, simplified kinematic control schemes, that were verified experimentally using prototypes. Additional cooperative control laws ensuring the synchronisation of the two robots were also implemented on the prototype system.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Department of Electrical Engineering
Keyword(s) Flexible manufacturing systems
Electromagnetic
Gripper
Materials handling
Laminations
Autonomous
Transformer
Mobile Robot
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