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Germany : Bosch "APAS assistant": a flexible, mobile automation solution for connected production.

Bosch's APAS family systems APAS assistant, APAS inspector, and APAS base offer a glimpse of the technologies that will be put to work in tomorrow's connected industry ( Industry 4.0 ). Flexible, networked, smart factories will see people, machines, and products all communicating with each other and working together. The APAS automation solutions, which are ready to go straight away, are ideal for these factories. They can take over dangerous, strenuous, monotonous, and dirty work, leaving people free to do higher quality work. Unlike many other systems available on the market, however, they can be used as mobile and flexible solutions, without any guards.

At the heart of the APAS family is the APAS assistant, an automated production assistant which has a sensor skin that enables it to avoid collisions. This makes it suitable for a wide range of applications in which it will work together with people in a guard-free workplace. And it is why APAS assistant is the first robot system to be certified for collaborative operations by the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV) association.

For example, the manufacturing worker can place empty pallets on a table in front of the robot. APAS assistant will then position them correctly and load them, while the worker performs other tasks, such as optimizing processes at other machines. The sensors fitted to APAS assistant's housing will detect whether its human colleague has come too close. It will stop before it touches its human colleague, and resume its work once its colleague has left the system's immediate operating zone.

Flexible, mobile, fast-learning and connected

APAS assistant is designed to be slim and compact, and it has rollers and an easy-to-operate lock. This means it can be put to work quickly and easily at various locations within a production facility.

APAS assistant's sensitive three-finger gripper is capable of gently or firmly grasping a wide variety of parts with complex geometries. Meanwhile, integrated cameras help it not only to register its surroundings autonomously but also to recognize parts for itself and manipulate them with precision.

The machine operator can use a touchpad control panel to teach the APAS assistant work plans graphical step-by-step representations of the task it is to perform within a very short space of time. The production assistant stores tasks once it has learned them, so they can be called up at any time at the push of a button. Since the APAS family systems are networked with each other, they can exchange any work plans that have already been put together. The fact that all devices in the family have an Ethernet connection also allows high-performance remote maintenance.

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Publication:Mena Report
Date:Apr 8, 2014
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