Ah, the joys and possible pitfalls of engineering, and the wonders of software! With the right software, engineers can easily create the most complex subassemblies in a digital mockup. But when the parts are built, someone still has to manually or virtually shove them into the full assembly without smacking adjacent parts. New software from France called Kineo CAM promises to make that job a lot easier.
The software automatically calculates the best trajectory in minutes, the company says. So, automakers, for example, can more easily fit a seat into a car body without having to send the subassembly back to the supplier for modifications, thus losing precious time and missing schedule and budget targets. The modifications could take days.
CNRS, a French national research department, created the technology using algorithms that enable the software to do what humans sometimes do—learn the spatial context in which the subassembly can be manipulated.
Renault currently has a pilot project using Kineo CAM, with plans to integrate it into the Delmia software they use. "We gave Kineo CAM two assembly tasks and their tool calculated the two trajectories in two and ten minutes respectively," says Alain Bouy, manager of process applications at Renault. "If we can rely on this tool for most of our assembly planning, we could save an enormous amount of time." And, they can avoid the frustration of re-designing to fit.
There are other software solutions that have tried to tackle this problem, but the results so far have been less than satisfying, he asserts. "We have a similar tool in the manufacturing software we use, but it is difficult to set the parameters of the calculation. The calculation time is too long, and the failure rate is too high," he reports.
If the pilot project is successful, Bouy would like to see the tool used to validate the assembly process throughout the development cycle of Renault vehicles.
The interactive solutions where the engineer manually finds the trajectory within the CAD program take a lot of time and they wind up having to create completely new trajectories when the vehicle is modified, he says. "With the time saved using Kineo CAM and its ability to reuse trajectory studies, we could validate the assembly process at each evolution of the vehicle design."
Kineo CAM can also handle other trajectory planning, such as for manufacturing robots in highly complex and constrained environments, says
Laurent Maniscalco, managing director of Kineo CAM. "Robot extraction is another highly complex situation," he says. "If a factory must stop the production line in case of emergency, the robots are all in a variety of positions, and finding the trajectory to extract them can be quite difficult." It can also be quite expensive.
Kineo CAM is currently working with a number of manufacturers who see an immediate need for this type of automatic trajectory creation. At the same time, Kineo CAM is discussing the possibility of incorporating this tool into a variety of commercial software.