Description of the goods or services required
TWI is one of the world’s foremost independent research and technology organisations, with expertise in solving problems in all aspects of manufacturing, fabrication and whole-life integrity management technologies.
Established in Cambridge, UK in 1946 and with facilities across the globe, the company has a first class reputation for service through its teams of internationally respected consultants, scientists, engineers and support staff, whose knowledge and expertise is available to its Industrial Members as and when they require.
This specification has been produced as part of an initiative known as AEMRI (Advanced Engineering Materials Research Institute), which is funded by the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO) using European Regional Development Funds (ERDF). AEMRI seeks to create a unique facility housing a critical mass of equipment, expertise and resources. AEMRI provides an environment to test and prove the limits of performance of advanced materials. Through the use of advanced modelling and simulation methods, full, large-scale mechanical test structures will be designed and built upon finite element analysis (FEA) calculations. Advanced, automated non-destructive evaluation (NDE) techniques will be developed with the aim of saving the industry time and production costs as well as minimising the risk of catastrophic structural failures.
AEMRI will deliver the objectives of the project through the following four technical strands:-
- Modelling and Simulation of High Performance Materials and Structures.
- Advanced Robotic Inspection of Complex Geometry Structures.
- Inspection Systems for Very Large Structures for the Green Energy Sector.
- Nuclear Fabrication Research Centre.
1.1 Equipment Overview
TWI Technology Centre (Wales) has been using a robotic cell for automated Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) since 2012 and is continually working towards improving the existing setup. While research until now has focussed on integrating NDT into the manufacturing process, TWI has been asked to develop a more flexible automated inspection solution for smaller component inspection that can be used alongside a human operator. The robotic equipment will require a high-resolution force-torque sensor, which allows it to “feel” and follow a surface while exerting a controlled force onto the surface. This is especially relevant for ultrasonic and eddy-current inspections.
Cooperative robots (also referred to as “cobots”) have been identified as being a suitable solution for this challenge. These robots are specifically designed to work alongside humans in a shared workspace by monitoring the forces applied to each joint to avoid injury during collision. The supplier will provide a single cooperative robot that is easily programmable, can interface with external equipment and can position NDT sensors with six degrees of freedom.