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Automated Robotic Workcell Design Toolkit Preliminary Evaluation

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Manufacturing Laboratory Experience

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

11.262.1 - 11.262.11



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Paper Authors


Sheng-Jen Hsieh Texas A&M University

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Sheng-Jen (“Tony”) Hsieh is an Associate Professor and member of the Graduate Faculty at Texas A&M University, College Station, TX. He holds a joint appointment with the Department of Engineering Technology and the Department of Mechanical Engineering and is a Halliburton Faculty Fellow for 2005-2006. His research interests include intelligent manufacturing system design, virtual instrumentation, thermal profiling for process and product characterization, and simulation and modeling. He is also the Director of the Rockwell Automation Laboratory, a state-of-the-art facility for education and research in the areas of automation, control, and production systems. Dr. Hsieh received his Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX.

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Hye Jeong Kim Texas A&M University

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Hye Jeong Kim is a graduate student in the Dept. of Educational Psychology at Texas A&M University.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Automated Robotic Workcell Design Toolkit – Preliminary Evaluation Abstract

From the assembly and welding of automobiles to mixing and packaging pharmaceuticals, automated systems, such as robotic workcells, play an essential role in the manufacturing industry. Engineers constantly design, maintain, reconfigure, and upgrade these systems to accommodate shifts in product design or manufacturing priorities. Often engineers require years of experience to become expert in this area. Needed are systematic procedures and a comprehensive curriculum for education on automated system integration tasks such as robotic system design. This paper describes the design and evaluation of a web-based robotic workcell design tool kit created to help students learn how to design an automated robotic workcell in a systematic way. The design of the toolkit is based on interviews with engineers about typical application engineer job tasks at system integration companies. The toolkit was developed in- house using Macromedia Flash and includes three main components: Problem, Design, and Analysis. In addition, the toolkit can capture users’ mouse movements and key presses for research and teaching purposes.

The Problem component includes a set of problems with written descriptions and pictures of a process to be automated. The user can use the mouse to select a problem of interest. The user interface is very flexible, allowing instructors to post new problems by changing the problem descriptions and image files.

The Design component includes two main steps: Process and Critical Path Method (CPM). This component facilitates activities related to conceptual design of a workcell. In the Process step, the user identifies and selects symbols corresponding to desired functions, then enters estimated costs and duration of each activity in a network. In the CPM step, the user can construct a CPM matrix of columns and rows to describe precedence relationships among activities. The system will automatically calculate cycle time for robotic workcell design activities.

The Analysis component includes three main parts: Layout, Simulation, and Show Designs. Layout shows the recommended layout for user’s final design in terms of the number of robot and conveyer systems. Simulation allows the analysis of part flow performance to facilitate assessment of the properties of the user’s conceptual design. In addition, the user can see calculated values for cycle time, critical path, and total cost. In Show Designs, the user can review different layouts in terms of operation time and cost of each step, overall cycle time and total cost.

The toolkit was evaluated by 27 undergraduate students who took a manufacturing automation and robotics course in Fall 2005. Students’ comments and opinions were mostly positive and included suggestions for further improvement. Future directions include (1) adding an interactive tutorial component including a case study of designing an automated system; (2) testing the prototype with a larger student population; (3) soliciting input from industry experts; and (4) comparing and contrasting how similar problems are solved by experts and novices.

Hsieh, S., & Kim, H. J. (2006, June), Automated Robotic Workcell Design Toolkit Preliminary Evaluation Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--303

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