Dynamic robot control and part loading in a flexible manufacturing cell

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Hathout, Linda Leila
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This project focuses on the dynamic scheduling and control aspects of a flexible manufacturing cell (FMC) having a single robot to move parts to be processed. One issue rarely addressed in the literature on FMC optimization is the relationship between the optimal intra-cell, or robot move sequence and the type, quantity and the order of parts in the batch scheduled for production. If all parts have the same due date and the order of servicing the parts can be changed, then the sequence of robot moves should not be fixed but, rather, the moves should be determined by the properties of the batch and the properties of the FMC. The dynamic scheduling of robot moves and part sequencing for this scenario has not been investigated previously. The objective of this project is to develop a computer program to control and optimize the throughput of parts by considering the overall system's properties in a working FMC. Software is created to control the robot and to dynamically make decisions. In particular, real timerobot control decisions are made during production by continuously polling the FMC's status to obtain information from sensors. The software then bases decisions to move the robot based on the system's current status. The software's computational time is minimal, so that processing is in real time. The software also allows for simulation and experimentation with the control variables of the FMC. This latter aspect allows the user the ability to adjust the decision support systems for faster batch throughput times. The program facilitates greater flexibility in the utilization of a FMC while still taking full advantage of its capacity.