The technological perspective
The technological perspective copes with those aspects of human-machine interaction’s mostly impacting on operative level. Thus, the proposal, by exploiting transversal knowledge established in the DIGEP as peculiar trait, will focus on three features, which are fundamental for the development and implementation of new manufacturing processes.
Process and product design
As far as the modelling and 3D simulation of new products are concerned, the research will orient towards novel Interaction Design techniques, characterised by deep focus on methodologies basing on customers’ eventual need. Besides developing innovative Product Life Cycle Management methodologies and Model Based Enterprise and cloud-based CAD strategies, devoted to improving the collaboration and share of knowledge within an extended enterprise, the research activity will focus on the design of biometric approaches based on the study of 3D human morphology by human body geometric modelling. For this subject, DIGEP will spend part of its research activities, both technological and legal, given the strategic role for design undertaken by a more interactive approach.
As far as the design of new manufacturing processes and systems is concerned, DIGEP research activity will move from two stating points: the availability of huge amount of data and the intertwining of involved sub-systems, hence included human-machine interaction.
Thus, the activity will be majorly oriented towards the development of novel design and simulation methodologies for production systems and, more in particular, to the understanding of chances offered by digital manufacturing processes in data-driven context and also provided by non-manufacturing sources, data mining and software engineering, under the assumption of adopting advanced approaches based on real-time data and being these feasible for the adoption in context typical of modern Cyber Physical Systems
New manufacturing technologies will deeply affect the organisation of production system, also and with particular concern for operative perspective. Regarding to this aspect, DIGEP research activities will focus on three specific areas:
- Interactive use and programming of cooperative robots for manufacturing application, such as assembly, welding, machining. Given expertise gained in recent years thanks to several projects focused on the so-called “training-by-demonstration” techniques and developed also in collaboration with industries, DIGEP aims at developing novel systems for human and machine cooperation, where robots are enabled to learn directly from human operator following his actions and movements.
- Implementation and development of additive manufacturing techniques. Considering the established experience developed in years, future research will orient towards those issues which still hampers the actual spread and adoption of such technologies in industries and their integration with thorough manufacturing process. In particular, activities will focus on accelerating and optimising the process with the final target of increasing the productivity and improving the quality of the final product, mostly from the perspective of final customer and new users. Moreover, large part of the research activity will be devoted to integrating additive technologies into novel smart production systems, by highlighting and assessing possible new application for Cyber Physical Systems.
- Robotics and reorganisation of plant logistics. New manufacturing approaches, derived from the novel automation and informative integration and interconnection between processes and machines, will significantly impact on future plants logistics management. DIGEP outlines a research activity that aims at analysing how material transportation and placement nearby work stations evolve; furthermore, it will cope with kitting and handling modes within different novel manufacturing contexts, here including latest frontier of industrial robotics (e.g. Wearable Robots), to ease and increase efficiency of the interaction between human and transportation system and, at once, to guarantee conformity to regulation, safety, flexibility and also exploiting lean management approaches, which are nowadays dominant in the design of the place and flow of work.
Quality and sustainability
DIGEP means to develop devoted technologies to the quality control of product and process of new robotic systems, with particular focus on recognition sensors and system equipment and the placement and traceability of machines and operators which interact within automated plants. This entails the study of integrated and distributed sensors networks, along with the study of devoted analysis techniques for data analysis based on Sensor Fusion methodologies. The research activities will also be devoted to study and implementation of novel technologies for dimensional and mechanical measurements of materials and artefacts, with particular concern of technological surfaces to provide necessary support for the characterisation of products manufactured with new technologies.
As far as sustainability is concerned, literature highlights that multi scale level (from the individual process up to the whole Supply Chain) analysis is requires and, amongst future research objectives, sets the development of sustainable, integrated and automated manufacturing systems based on differentiated technologies. Therefore, DIGEP will implement research activity majorly based on economic sustainability, i.e. system capability to guarantee persistent growth of job positions and revenues, social sustainability, i.e. capability of guaranteeing fair wealth, health and education, besides the environmental sustainability