Advanced Automation

With deep expertise in flexible automation, joining automation, machine vision, and automated inspection, EWI provides innovative, industry-driven automation solutions to enhance process efficiency, improve quality, and reduce operating costs.


Advanced Automation

Automation can improve product quality, shorten cycle times, increase productivity, and reduce downtime. Fixed (hard) automation is well suited for a specific production purpose, especially repetitive or high-volume applications. Flexible automation is better suited for high-mix production at low or high volumes.

EWI’s Advanced Automation Process Team develops custom automated solutions for a wide range of manufacturing processes. With expertise in automation and controls, robotics, design and simulation, process monitoring, machine vision, and nondestructive evaluation (NDE), EWI offers an array of critical services to help manufacturers improve competitiveness through applied technology. Whether designing new tooling or developing innovative manufacturing processes, our engineers provide multiple solutions to improve our clients’ operations.

Our technologists develop real-time monitoring systems for all joining and forming processes. Monitoring enables transparency of the welding process for research, ensures weld quality during production, and can be used to direct automation hardware. Available techniques include laser-based inspection for surface topography, high-speed videography for observation of the joining process as it happens, thermal imaging systems for detecting weld features and heat flow, and data acquisition of operating parameters to ensuring weld quality.

An additional resource is our unique Feasibility Pilot Factory Floor. This unparalleled toolbox of simulation software, robots, vision systems, and related automation components allows us to develop, test, demonstrate, and validate an automated process in our laboratories before our clients deploy the process on their factory floor, significantly reducing startup risk.

EWI develops custom one-of-a-kind automated process solutions to meet our clients’ specific manufacturing needs, providing a significant competitive advantage. The Automation Team develops real-time monitoring systems, machine vision systems, applied NDE process tooling and fixturing, and novel joining processes.

Our engineers are fluent in programming languages used in industrial control. Our software expertise includes low-level languages such as C/C++ and PLC programming, as well as higher level automation environments such as National Instruments LabView and LabWindows. We use both commercial and specialized industrial motion controllers including interfacing with robotic system controllers.

Our software programs are used both in the solutions we have deployed to our clients and in our internal research and development programs. We develop control, inspection, and process algorithms ranging from simple pass/fail limits to complex in-process prediction methodologies. We deploy stand-alone or open-ended programs ready for clients to use for their own research and development.

Technical Expertise

  • Flexible and fixed automation solutions for welding and inspection
  • Pick-and-place, palletizing, bin picking, part feeding, and delivery systems
  • Fixture and tooling design for automated systems
  • Discrete-event simulation and robotic cell simulation
  • 2D and 3D machine vision systems
  • EWI-developed force-control sensing
  • Automated NDE, real-time process monitoring, and machine tending

Equipment

  • Universal UR10, UR5
  • ABB IRB 2600
  • Fanuc M-10iA 12S with Alicona IF Sensor R25
  • Fanuc LR Mate 200iD 4s
  • Fanuc M-1iA/0.5A
  • Fanuc F-100iA 106s
  • Mikrolar P2100YM
  • Adept Python Linear Module
  • Denso HM-G
  • Gripper Assortment

Our Automated Process Team designs and develops a wide variety of custom solutions, including:

  • Automated welder-training systems
  • NDE systems for assessing rail quality
  • Resonant fatigue testing systems for pipelines
  • Laser- and camera-based visual-inspection systems
  • Automated system for corrosion detection and repair
  • Adaptive welding systems for heavy manufacturing, energy, and aerospace clients
  • Automated sealant application
  • Vision-based robot guidance
  • Our high-impact projects have included:

  • Developing new sensors such as wire-feed force sensing and integrating them into larger systems.
  • Surface inspection and defect detection of heated, glowing materials.
  • Automated inspection and automated robotic weld path planning for repair of multi-run parts. Creating a multi-bead multi-layer system to scan an un-welded joint, develop a weld fill map, weld the joint using the adaptive welding techniques, and ensure adherence to the weld fill map.
  • Developing an in-process, laser weld quality monitoring system using electrical signal analysis.
  • Developing a robotic vision-guided sealant application process.
  • Investigating and deploying in-process sensing for additive manufacturing processes.
  • Developing a test bed for laser powder bed fusion additive manufacturing.
  • Integration with phased-array ultrasonics and eddy current NDE techniques to develop custom inspection systems