Flexible Manufacturing Lab

Flexible Manufacturing Laboratory
Room 307 Transportation Building

The Flexible Manufacturing Lab is designed to introduce engineering undergraduate students to the fundamental concepts of industrial automation and flexible manufacturing. The lab has six stations for training and experimenting in programmable logic controllers (PLCs), two 5-degrees of freedom articulated robots, one table-top computer numerical controlled (CNC) milling machine, and a flexible manufacturing cell. Students learn the introductory topics on PLC programming using ladder diagrams for process automation, progressing to advanced factory control problems like scheduling and controlling unmanned guided vehicles for material transportation. The robots are used to give the students hands-on-experience with industrial robotics and robot programming. The students learn about different types of robots, robot joints, and physically identify joint parameters (Denavit-Hartenberg parameters) that enable them to mathematically model the robot kinematics and dynamics to control the robots. At the CNC workcenter, using computer-aided design (CAD) software called Autodesk Inventor, students design mechanical components. The CAD models are used in a FANUC interface-based computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software to operate the CNC milling machine to manufacture the components out of wax blocks. This is intended to give the students a good idea about a product’s life cycle that passes through design, analysis, CNC programming, and manufacturing. The flexible manufacturing cell comprises a mobile robot on a track that can move from an inventory station to the CNC workcenter. Students implement all the methods of automation they have learned, including CAD, PLC programming, robot programming, automated material handling, networking, and CAM to make the work-cell operational. Such a hands-on training is expected to equip the students to work in modern factories.

For Further Reading : "Flexible Manufacturing Lab will introduce students to automation," by Emily Scott