Sensorisation & Automation of
Inspection Station

Context & Aim

In Jan 2017 IMR engaged with a large Multinational to identify areas of ergonomic risk in their Inspection and repair work area. An extensive investigation involving documentation of processes and testing of various technologies was carried out. From this work, the project was defined and initiated.

 

A two-year partnership project between Irish Manufacturing Research Ltd. (IMR) and a multinational. has been completed; with IT Sligo as academic partner.

 

The project aimed to reduce the ergonomic risks in the Inspection and Repair area. Main deliverables included two new technology additions to the Inspection work station.

These technologies have been presented to the Irish site and disseminated globally.

Challenge

The primary goal of the overall project is to reduce safety risk for inspection and repair operators when completing daily probe card maintenance tasks. An identifiable ergonomic risk was associated with the inspection process as a result of the duration, intensity and repetition of manual interactions and the posture associated with these tasks.

Daily and individual incident Safe working limits were set for the inspection and repair task based on type of repair being carried out.

Solution

After several months of discovery work, the problem statement was focused to three main deliverables:

  • Phase 1: Hands-free solution to Z-control (focus control) of the microscope
  • Phase 2: Automated work timing tracking and alert system, Sensorisation of the system and a connected database to auto log time spent on repair and the type of repair, Auto tracking of time to alert operators to ensure they don’t exceed working time guidelines to prevent ergonomic strain.
  • Research Masters Submission

 

Results

  • An explorative experiment was done to determine if the Phase 1 technology resolved the original process pain point. Test results showed 100% removal of the original process-pain point and a median 15.05% decrease in stump removal repair times.
  • The solution was implemented in high-volume manufacturing across multiple sites globally
  • An advanced prototype that was successfully implemented was tested across multiple production tools connected through a data base that auto logged work time and work type. This has since been transferred to a 3rd party integrator to implement an industrial solution with a plan to implement globally.
  • The system has improved adherence and awareness of ergonomic time guidelines to prevent work related strain injuries compared to the manual logging method used.
  • Additional benefits include the availability of data on time to repair, no of repairs etc.
  • There is some initial data that indicates an improvement in repair time.
  • Based on feedback from the users the system have been positive in terms of adherence to times, reduced fatigue and strained and increased comfort.
  • The potential to reduce work related injuries.
  • Adherence to guidelines.
  • Possible reducting in repair time.
  • Availability of real time and historic data that was not available in the past.

Our company “has been engaged with Irish Manufacturing Research for the past number of years and partnered with us to identify areas of risk and deliver solutions. IMR has been an excellent research partner for us. An example involved improvements in the safety and wellbeing of our employees on very dexterous tasks within the operations. IMR applied Innovative and Design thinking along with the organisation, hardware and software skills to deliver an innovative viable solution which has been deployed in the organisation. This centre is an organisation, very different from other research centres and brings solutions from idea phase to prototype, advance prototype and eventually supporting us in developing and industrial deployable solution” (Client).

Early prototypes overview

Final Prototype

PROJECT MANAGER

Kevin Dooley
Senior Robotics Researcher

THEMATIC PILLAR

Automation & Advanced Control

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