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Collaboration in a Hybrid Team of Human and Robot for Improving Working Conditions in an Aircraft Riveting Process

Journal Article
ISSN: 2641-9637, e-ISSN: 2641-9645
Published March 19, 2019 by SAE International in United States
Collaboration in a Hybrid Team of Human and Robot for Improving Working Conditions in an Aircraft Riveting Process
Citation: Mueller, R., Vette-Steinkamp, M., Kanso, A., and Masiak, T., "Collaboration in a Hybrid Team of Human and Robot for Improving Working Conditions in an Aircraft Riveting Process," SAE Int. J. Adv. & Curr. Prac. in Mobility 1(2):396-403, 2019,
Language: English


Aircraft production is facing various technical challenges, such as large product dimensions, complex joining processes, and organization of assembly tasks. Overcoming such challenges, as well as maintaining low tolerances and small batch sizes, is often difficult to achieve whilst retaining economic viability.
ZeMA believes that a semi-automated approach is the most effective way to optimize aircraft section assembly. This can be achieved with a semi-automated riveting process for solid rivets, using Human-Robot-Collaboration in combination with an intuitive Human-Machine-Interaction operating concept.
In the assembly of aircraft structures - in this scenario the aircraft aft section - the pressure bulk head is mounted to the section barrel. Two operators work collaboratively in uncomfortable, non-ergonomic positions, yet of course have to maintain exacting quality standards. In order to improve this process, a dynamic task sharing strategy between human and robot according to their respective skills, with due consideration given to ergonomic factors is proposed. The ideal solution involves placing a robot inside the section barrel. The robot’s workspace is expanded by mounting it on top of a lifting unit so that it can position the anvil properly. In the meantime, the human performs the more complex tasks of inserting the solid rivets and operating the riveting hammer from outside the section barrel.
In order to carry out the assembly tasks efficiently, the following components must be implemented: Human-Robot-Collaboration based on natural and intuitive interaction possibilities, and smart mixed reality devices for communication between human and robot in the hybrid team. By implementing a modular control system for configuration and operation of the assembly station with a variety of interaction possibilities, human and robot can perform the collaborative riveting process more efficiently than human operators alone. Additionally, due to the high forces and vibrations applied by the riveting hammer, a process-specific tool has been developed to prevent damage to the robot system. The implementation of natural and intuitive interaction within the Human-Robot-Collaboration achieves operator acceptance, improves ergonomics and therefore effectively optimizes aircraft production.
The results are part of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, and present semi-automation as shown in the HRC riveting process.