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Title:
MOBILE PRODUCTION SYSTEM AND A METHOD FOR IMPLEMENTING A MOBILE PRODUCTION SYSTEM
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/081812
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The invention relates to a mobile production system (10), which includes - a road vehicle (12) comprising handling means (14), - two, preferably three intermodal containers (16) with their openable sides (20), which are combinable next to each other on their open sides (20) to form a unified production space (22), - production means (18), which include a robot (28) arranged in one container (16), which robot (28) includes a set of booms (65) arranged to rotate through around a vertical axis in the container (16), an operating system (30) for controlling the said robot (28) and, as tools (36), at least a grab (37) and raw-material (24) shaping means (90), and the production system (10) further includes tool (36) quick-attachment means (64) for automatically connecting a selected tool (36) to the robot (28) in various stages of production and calibration elements (67) for calibrating the robot (28) relative to a selected set of co-ordinates. The invention also relates to a method for implementing a mobile production system.

Inventors:
KINNUNEN JARMO (FI)
Application Number:
PCT/FI2018/050773
Publication Date:
May 02, 2019
Filing Date:
October 23, 2018
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
LEANEL OY (FI)
International Classes:
B28B15/00
Domestic Patent References:
WO2016060716A22016-04-21
Foreign References:
EP2743029A12014-06-18
Other References:
SANTIAGO MARTÍNEZ ET AL: "Flexible field factory for construction industry", ASSEMBLY AUTOMATION, vol. 33, no. 2, 5 April 2013 (2013-04-05), GB, pages 175 - 183, XP055550726, ISSN: 0144-5154, DOI: 10.1108/01445151311306708
MIKAEL HEDELIND ET AL: "Factory-in-a-Box-Solutions for availability and mobility of flexible production capacity", 1 May 2007 (2007-05-01), pages 1 - 10, XP055550741, Retrieved from the Internet [retrieved on 20190201]
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KESPAT OY (JYVÄSKYLÄ, FI)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. Mobile production system (10), which includes

- a road vehicle (12) comprising handling devices (14) for handling an intermodal container (16),

- two, preferably three intermodal containers (16) able to be opened at their sides (20), arranged to be moved to the production site (100) as road transportation on the road vehicle (12), in which the containers (16) lowered from the road vehicle (12) at the production site (100) are combinable next to one another at their open sides (20) to form a unified production space (22) ,

- production means (18) arranged inside at least one intermodal container (16) in order to implement production at the production site (100), which production means (18) include a robot (28) arranged in one intermodal container (16) and an operating system (30) for controlling the robot (28), which robot (28) includes a set of booms (65), comprising a first end (27) and a second end (29) and at least two booms (63) pivoted to each other, the set of booms (65) being arranged from the first end (27), in a through rotating manner relative to a vertical axis, to the intermodal container (16), characteri zed in that the production means (18) further include as tools (36) at least a grab (37) for the robot (28) to grip the raw materials (24) and raw-material (24) shaping means (90) to shape at least one raw material (24) into a desired shape for the end product (26) and the production system (10) further includes

- tool (36) quick-attachment means (64) arranged at the second end (29) of the robot's (28) set of booms (65) and at each tool (36) to attach the selected tool (36) to the robot (28) automatically in the various stages of production, and

- calibration elements (67) to calibrate the robot (28) relative to a selected set of co-ordinates.

2. Production system according to Claim 1, characteri zed in that the said robot (28) is fully automatic.

3. Production system according to Claim 1 or 2, characteri zed in that a store (32) for at least two different raw materials (24) is formed in one container (16) . 4. Production system according to any of Claims 1 - 3, characteri zed in the said raw-material shaping means (90) are a milling cutter (92), saw, or drill, preferably a milling cutter (92) . 5. Production system according to any of Claims 1 - 4, characteri zed in that the production system (18) further includes connecting means (75) to connect different raw materials (24) to form an end product (26) . 6. Production system according to Claim 5, characteri zed in that the said connecting means (75) are a nozzle unit (102) to spread glue on the machined raw materials (24) to make the end product (26) or a nail gain or riveting machine, preferably a nozzle unit (102) .

7. Production system according to any of Claims 1 - 6, characteri zed in that the production system (10) includes three containers (16), which together form a production space (22) and in which one container (16) contains the said robot (28), the second container (16) acts as a store (32) for raw materials (24) , and the third container (16) as a store (32) for raw materials (24) or end products (26) or both.

8. Production system according to Claim 7, characteri zed in that the container (16) comprising the robot (28) is openable on both sides (20) and arranged between two containers (16) to form a unified production space (22) .

9. Production system according to Claim 8, characteri zed in that the production system (10) includes only one said robot (28), which is located centrally relative to the containers (16) and dimensioned to reach each container (16) of the production system (10) .

10. Production system according to any of Claims 1 - 9, characteri zed in that the production system (10) includes heating means (34) for regulating the temperature of the raw materials (24) to a selected level.

11. Production system according to any of Claims 1 - 10, characteri zed in that the production system (10) includes vacuum means (38) for removing waste that arises in production from the production space (22) .

12. Production system according to any of Claims 1 - 11, characteri zed in that the tools (36) include pneumatic means (33) to create an operating pressure at least for the said grab (37) and the raw-material (24) shaping means (90) .

13. Production system according to any of Claims 1 - 12, characteri zed in that the production means (18) include a work base (42) to support the raw materials (24) for making an end product (26) .

14. Production system according to Claim 13, characteri zed in that the said work base (42) comprises compressing operating devices (72) to lock the raw materials (24) to the work base (42) .

15. Production system according to any of Claims 1 - 14, characteri zed in that the said robot (28) includes 5 - 8 axes of rotation .

16. Production system according to any of Claims 1 - 15, characteri zed in that the said operating system (30) includes

- a computing unit (112),

- a memory (118) linked to the said computing unit (112), comprising automated control commands (120) for the robot (28) to realize an end product (26),

- software means (114) stored in the said memory (118) for converting the robot's (28) automated control commands (120) to the robot (28) using the computing unit (112),

- a user interface (110) for operating the software means

(114), and

- data-transfer means (116) to transfer the control commands (120) to the robot (28) . 17. Production system according to any of Claims 1 - 16, characteri zed in that the said calibration elements (67) are arranged in connection with the work base (42) to define the position of the robot (28) . 18. Production system according to any of Claims 1 - 17, characteri zed in that in the production system (10) one container (16) includes first doors (62) to feed raw materials (24) into the production system's (10) containers (16) and a second container (16) includes second doors (63) for removing end products (26) from the production system (10) and out of the containers (16), in which production system (10) the robot (28) is arranged to move raw materials (24) and end products (26) the production system (10) being unmanned during production.

19. Production system according to Claims 1 - 18, characteri zed in that the containers (16) include alignment markings (71) to align the containers (16) with each other identically at each operating site.

20. Method for implementing a mobile production system (10), in which the production system (10) includes a road vehicle (12) comprising handling means (14) for handling an intermodal container (16) , two, preferably three intermodal containers (16) , and production means (18) arranged inside at least one container (16) for implementing production at a production site (100), the production means (18) comprising a robot (28) arranged in one container (16) and an operating system (30) for controlling the said robot (28), in which method

- loading the container (16) onto the road vehicle (12),

- moving the containers (16) to the production site (100) on the road vehicle (12),

- unloading the container (16) from the road vehicle (12) at the production site (100),

- combining the containers (16) on their open sides (20) to form a unified production space (22),

- arranging the robot (28) used as the production means (18) in one container (16), and

- operating the robot (28) with the operating system (30) to make the end product (26) from raw materials (24) in the containers (16) at the production site (100),

characteri zed in that, in the method

- attaching a selected tool (36) automatically to the said robot (28) at the second end (29) of the set of booms (65) with the aid of the attachment means (64) at various stages of work, which tools (36) are at least a grab (37) for the robot (28) to grip a raw material (24) and raw-material (24) shaping means (90) to shape at least one raw material (24) into a desired shape for the end product (26), - calibrating the robot (28) relative to a selected set of co-ordinates with the aid of calibration elements (67), and the end product (26) is formed from the raw materials (24) in the following stages:

- using the grab (37) attached to the robot (28) to fetch raw materials (24) in the store (32),

- shaping the raw material (24) using the shaping means (90) attached to the robot (28), and

- joining the shaped raw materials (24) to form the end product ( 26 ) .

21. Method according to Claim 20, characteri zed in that in the method metal or timber frame structure (54) and insulation panels (52) are used as the raw materials (24) and a building element (46) is made as the end product (26) .

22. Method according to Claim 20 or 21, characteri zed in that in the method a work base (42) is used, which comprises compressing operating devices (72) to lock the raw materials (24) to the work base (42), and the raw materials (24) are locked using the work base (42) in at least one stage of making the end product (26) .

23. Method according to Claim 22, characteri zed in that the zero point for calibrating the position of the said robot (28) is formed with aid of the calibration elements (67) of the said work base ( 42 ) .

24. Method according to any of Claims 20 - 23, characterized in that, in the method

- the raw materials (24) are fed into the containers (16) through the first doors (62) belonging to one container (16),

- raw materials (24) and end products (26) are moved inside the containers (16) using the robot (28), the production (10) system being unmanned during production, and the end products (26) are removed from the containers (16) through second doors (63 belonging to another container (16) .

Description:
MOBILE PRODUCTION SYSTEM AND A METHOD FOR IMPLEMENTING A MOBILE PRODUCTION SYSTEM

The invention relates to a mobile production system, which includes

- a road vehicle comprising handling devices for handling an intermodal container,

- two, preferably three intermodal containers openable at their sides, arranged to be moved to the production site by road transportation on the road vehicle, in which the containers lowered from the road vehicle at the production site are com- binable next to one another on their open sides to form a unified production space,

- production means arranged inside at least one intermodal container in order to implement production at the production site, which production means include a robot arranged in one intermodal container and an operating system for controlling the robot, which robot includes a set of booms, comprising a first end and a second end and at least two booms pivoted to each other, the set of booms being arranged from first end, in a through rotating manner relative to a vertical axis, to the intermodal container.

The invention also relates to a method for implementing a mobile production system. In industrial production, there is often an attempt to concentrate production in the largest possible units, in which production capacity is great and the unit cost of production can be kept low. A problem in such centralized production is getting the products to the consumer, particularly when producing large products. In the case of large products, such as, for example, prefabricated building elements, transporting them to the consumer involves considerable transport costs. In addition, it is difficult to make differing product batches in mass production. One field of production, in which the problem is particularly acute, is construction. The most generally used building methods are building from piece goods, the precut method, and large-element construction. Building from piece goods means traditional building using unit components on site, whereas large-element construction refers to the use of factory-made building elements by combining the building elements on the building site to make a building. Piece-goods building has the advantage of flexibility, which permits unique buildings to be made on the building site. On the other hand, it has the drawback of cost, due to having to pay competent workmen. In addition it has the problem of weather conditions and protection from them.

For its part, large-element construction has the advantage of a high cost efficiency, but the drawback of the costs and difficulty of deviating from series production. In addition, series production taking place in production plants is often far from the building sites, so that the large elements must be transported to the sites. This leads to considerable transportation costs. In addition, costs arise in transporting materials to the factory and in storing and handling them at the factory. Small-element building on the building site can be regarded as an intermediate form between piece-goods building and large-element building, in which small building elements, which are combined to make a building, are formed from piece goods. A manufacturing device for making such building elements is known from publication print FI 89469. Building elements, formed by a wooden frame, mineral-wool insulation and wind and vapour barriers set in the frame, can be made using the manufacturing device. However, such a building element made by hand is still complicated to manufacture and heavy to handle. Also known from the prior art is publication EP 2629948 Bl, which discloses a mobile production system for making concrete elements. The production system includes an intermodal container, inside which production means are formed for producing concrete elements locally on a building site. By means of the production system, the transport costs of finished concrete elements can be avoided, but there is the problem of finding labour to operate a complex production line at each operating location.

From the prior art, a modular maintenance system for oil-drilling tools is known, which is disclosed in publication WO 2016/010511 Al . The maintenance system is arranged inside three intermodal containers and can be moved from one operating location to another. However, the maintenance system of the publication requires an operator to work in the space, so that the problem is to acquire a workforce to operate a complex production line at each operating location. The invention is intended to create a more efficient production system than the production systems of the prior art, in which the transportation costs and need for labour are minimized. The characteristic features of the present invention are stated in the accompanying Claim 1. The invention is also intended to create a more efficient method than the method of the prior art for implementing a mobile production system, which method minimizes the transportation costs and need for labour. The characteristic features of the present invention are stated in the accompanying Claim 20.

The intention of the production system according to the invention can be achieved by means of a mobile production system, which includes a road vehicle comprising handling means for handling an intermodal contained, two, preferably three intermodal containers openable at their sides, arranged to be moved to the production site by road transport on the road vehicle, and production means arranged in at least one container, for implementing production at the production site. The intermodal containers lowered from the road vehicle at the production site are combinable next to each other on their open sides, to form a unified production space. The production means include a robot arranged in one container and an operating system for controlling the robot, which robot includes a set of booms, comprising a first end and a second end, and at least two booms pivoted to each other, the set of booms being arranged from the first end, in a through rotating manner relative to a vertical axis, to the intermodal container. The production means further include as tools at least grabs for the robot to grip raw materials and raw-material shaping means to form at least one raw material into the shape desired in terms of the end product. The production system further includes a tool quick-attachment means arranged at the second end of the robot's set of booms and on each tool, for attaching the selected tool to the robot automatically in each stage of production, and calibration elements for calibrating the robot relative to a selected set of co-ordinates.

In the production system according to the invention, the entire production system can be transported to the customer with the aid of an ordinary truck or other road vehicle, so that transportation costs of the finished product do not arise. Arranged on a road vehicle, the modular containers can be moved as a normal load, which does not require special equipment and can be performed using a single road vehicle, preferably a truck. At the production site, the containers are combined to form a unified production space, in which the robot produces products from raw materials directly at the point of use of the products. Production implemented with the aid of a robot is efficient and there is very little need for local labour. The production system according to the invention also has the advantage that the products are produced inside the containers protected from the weather. The production system suits automated production, because the system comprises, in addition to the robot, a range of tools, which can be quickly attached to the robot with the aid of attachment means, according to the different work stages. Thus the robot can entirely or mainly automatically take care of the machining and assembly of the raw materials to make the desired end product, without the operator physically participating in the process. The position of the robot relative to the different pieces can be defined precisely with the aid of calibration elements, so that the movements of the robot are precise.

The invention's idea is to exploit so-called LEAN thinking in the production process. LEAN thinking is a management philosophy, which concentrates on eliminating seven different types of waste (unproductive operation) , with the aid of which it is sought to improve customer satisfaction, improve quality and reduce operating costs, and shorten through-put times of production. LEAN seeks to ensure that the right number of right things are obtained at the right time and in the right place, and are of the right quality. At the same time, all waste is reduced and operations are flexible and open to change. Based on LEAN thinking, wasteful operations are "transport and handling", "storage", "movement", "waiting", "overproduction", "over-processing", and "faults, repair, and inspection". The production system and method according to the invention seek to eliminate these wastes from the point of view of LEAN thinking. The production system according to the invention is particularly suitable for application in the production of building elements, in which the transport costs of finished building elements are traditionally great and the requirements of building projects for building elements vary a great deal. Using the production system according to the invention, the building elements needed for a building can be produced on the building site individually according to the requirements of the site in question, releasing labour for erecting the building, while the robot manufactures the building elements at least partly automatically.

The robot is preferably fully automated. In this context, reference to a fully automated robot means a robot that is able to make a product from raw materials to the finished product without intervention by the operator. The operator's task remains only to use the robot's operating system to select the properties of the products to be made and start production. The operator is then not needed in the mechanical performance of the production stage, so that risks due to the operator being injured by the robot's movements are reduced and work-safety regulations are met .

A store is preferably formed in one container for at least two different raw materials. Thus the robot can pick the raw materials directly from the store within its reach. At the same time, the raw materials are protected from weather and move with the production system from one work site to another.

The production system can further include connecting means for combining different raw materials to form an end product. With the aid of the connecting means, raw materials can be physically combined to form an end product, so that the entire process from picking raw materials to making the end product can be performed with the aid of a robot .

The attachment means can be a nozzle unit for spreading glue on machined raw materials to make an end product, or a nail gun or riveting machine, preferably a nozzle unit. With the aid of the nozzle unit, glue can be spread quickly and effectively on the surfaces between components.

The raw-material shaping means can be milling cutter, saw, or drill, preferably a milling cutter. With the aid of such shaping means, material can be removed from the raw material or it can be cut into suitably-sized pieces for the end product to be assembled. For example, when producing building elements with the aid of the tools, standard-dimension insulation can be cut and grooved according to the dimensions of each building element, thus maximizing the use of the volume of the container acting as a store by storing the largest possible insulation in it. Raw materials can be utilized with the aid of the tools, even though they are in bulk form that is economical in terms of transportation.

The production system preferably includes three intermodal containers, which together form a production space and in which one container contains a robot, the second acts as a store for raw materials, and the third as a store for raw materials or end products or both. Thus using three containers the entire production can be implemented from storage of the raw materials to storage of the finished end products, without storage spaces external to the system. In the production system, one container preferably includes first doors for feeding raw materials into the system's containers and another container includes second doors for removing the end products from the system and the containers, in which production system a robot is arranged to move raw materials and end products, the system being unmanned during production.

The container comprising the robot can preferably be opened on both sides and arranged between two containers to form a unified production space. Thus the robot in one container can grip raw materials in another container and move them to production in the same container as the robot. The robot can also be used to move the finished product to storage in a second or third container. The system preferably includes only one robot, which is located centrally in the containers and dimensioned to reach each container in the system, permitting the entire production system to be implemented with a single robot, and preferably a work base for locking raw materials in place during work by the robot. The production system can then be cost-effectively implemented. This permits the system to be implemented using a single robot without separate transfer means such as conveyor belts or similar for moving the raw materials or finished products. The production system can include heating means for regulating the temperature of the raw materials to a selected level. For example, gluing raw materials to each other may demand a sufficiently high temperature to boost the drying of the glue. The production system can include heating/cooling means for regulating the temperature of the production space formed by the containers to a selected level. Thus in cold conditions a sufficiently high temperature can be maintained to ensure the operation of the electrically powered robot and in hot conditions a sufficiently low temperature so that the robot does not overheat .

The production system can include vacuum means for removing waste from the production space waste that arises in production. For example, the insulation dust arising from machining insulation in building-element production must be collected, so that it will not go onto the surfaces being glued, nor cause the risk of a dust explosion . The tools preferably include pneumatic means for creating an operating pressure at least for grabs and raw-material shaping devices. Compressed air can be easily produced in the mobile production system.

The production system preferably includes base structures to be fitted under the containers at the production site to bring the containers to the same level. The base structures can be used to ensure that on an uneven site, the containers are arranged at the same level, so that position data between the containers need not be entered each time, but can be stabilized.

According to one embodiment, the production system includes a work base to support the raw materials. Using the work base, the robot remains free to machine the raw materials to form an end product, as part of the raw material can be supported on a table. Using the work base in small building-element production, the frame timbers and insulation acting as raw material can be supported while the robot performs machining.

The work base preferably comprises compressing devices for locking raw materials on the work base. The operating devices are used to hold the raw material in place until they are attached to each other, for example, with the aid of glue. Thus, instead of a grab, the robot can use raw-material shaping means to a raw-material piece while another already shaped raw-material piece is on the work base.

Preferably, the operating devices compress from the sides. Thus the flat surface of the work base remains free for the robot to lower raw materials onto it.

The work base is preferably a so-called positioning work base, which acts as a stencil for defining the position of the different raw materials of the end product to be formed. Thus the robot's operating accuracy need not be quite as great, as the work base forces the various raw materials into the correct positions in the end product .

Preferably both the robot and the work base are controlled using common control in the operating system, as their operations relative to each other must be precisely timed. The robot can include an attachment base, which is integrated as part of the frame of the container to support the robot firmly in the container. Thus the robot remains firmly in place despite the forces acting on the attachment base. The load hanging on the end of the long arm of the robot and the rapid changes in its path of motion cause significant forces in the robot's attachment base.

The robot has preferably five axes of rotation to achieve sufficient degrees of freedom for moving raw material and finished products and moving tools. The robot can be a long-arm mul- ti-purpose machine, with at least 5 axes of rotation. Such a robot can include as components an attachment base to attach the robot to the container, a main boom pivoted to it with a vertical pivot, a folding boom pivoted to the main boom by a transverse pivot, and a folding head, pivoted to the end of the folding boom by a pivot parallel to the folding boom, comprising attachment means, to which tools are attached, pivoted by a transverse pivot.

The operating system preferably includes a computing unit, a memory linked to the computing unit and comprising the robot's automated control commands for creating an end product, software means stored in the memory to convert the robot's automated control commands to the robot with the aid of the computing unit, a user interface for using the software means, and data-transfer means for transferring the control commands to the robot. With the aid of such an operating system the robot's operation can be automated fully or at least mainly, so that the operator need not carry out physical tasks, his task remaining mainly to supervise the robot.

Calibration elements are preferably arranged in connection with the work base to define the robot's position. The robot's precision is then very high relative to the work table. According to one embodiment, the tools include a grab, arranged to grip the frame timbers and insulation of the building element being made and the finished building element and a milling cutter for cutting the insulation to suitable dimensions and milling grooves, and a nozzle unit for spreading glue on the insulation.

The attachment means preferably include a first part attached to the second end of the robot's set of booms and a second parts each attached to a tool to connect the tool to the robot, which first and second parts are locked to each other automatically with a quick-attachment means.

The road vehicle is preferably a truck. In one truck on container can be transported on the tractor and two on the trailer, so that only a single truck is needed to transport the entire production system. With the aid of a truck, the costs of transportation remain low .

According to one embodiment, the production system can include a separate weather-protection hood, which is dimensioned so that it can be used to cover the containers entirely. Thus the joints between the containers need not be separately sealed.

According to one embodiment, the production system is arranged to handle raw material, the ratio of the thickness of which to its width or height is 2 - 15 %, preferably 5 - 12 %. Such panel-like raw material can be easily handled with the aid of a robot.

During production, the production space formed by the containers is preferably unmanned and the robot moves the raw material and end products. For this purpose, at least first position data, showing the location of raw material in the containers, second position data of the location of the work base, third position data of the location of unused tools in the tool rack, and fourth position data of the location of finished end products are entered in the memory of the robot's operating system to form paths of motion. The first position data can include several different categories, if there are several different raw material in the product, each of which is at different places in the container acting as a store. In addition, the dimensions of each raw material and the dimensions and properties of the desired end product are defined in the robot's operating system.

The containers preferably include alignment markings, which ensure that the containers are placed identically relative to each other at each operating site. Using the alignment markings the robot is taught in the first operating session the location of different objects, such as that of the work base, the location of raw materials and tools, etc. After this, when aligning the containers using the alignment markings the mutual positioning of different objects remains unchanged and the robot need not be taught again each time.

In the production system, preferably one container includes first doors for feeding raw materials into the system's containers and another container includes second doors for removing end products from the system and the containers, in which production system the robot is arranged to transfer raw materials and end products, the system being unmanned during production. In such a production system, the containers form part of the logistics chain, delimiting inside them an unmanned production space. Loading and removal of the raw materials and end products to and from the containers is performed manually or, for example, using a fork-lift truck, outside the operation of the robot. When the robot is operating, the operator is outside the container.

Alternatively, in the system according to the invention, a so-called collaborative robot can be used, which can operate simultaneously with the presence of a person in the containers, thanks to the safety systems included in a collaborative robot. However, the investment costs of a collaborative robot are higher than those of a traditional robot. The robot can include a so-called "collision guard", which contains data entered in the robot on obstacles on its possible paths of motion, to prevent collisions.

The method according to the invention is intended to be achieved using a method for implementing a mobile production system, in which the production system includes a road vehicle comprising handling means for handing an intermodal container, two, preferably three intermodal containers, and production means arranged in at least one of the said containers for implementing production at the production site. The production means comprise a robot arranged in one container and an operating system for controlling the said robot, in which method the container is loaded on the road vehicle, the containers are moved on the vehicle to the production site, and unloaded from the vehicle at the production site. In addition, the containers are combined on their open sides to form a unified production space, the robot arranged in one container is used as the production means and a selected tool is attached, in various stages of production, automatically with the aid of attachment means to the second end of the set of booms belonging to the robot, which tools are at least a grab for gripping a raw material and raw-material shaping means for shaping at least one raw material into a shape desired for the end product, and the robot is calibrated relative to a selected set of co-ordinates with the aid of calibration elements. In the method, the end product is formed from raw material in the following stages, in which a raw material is gripped using the grab attached to the robot, the raw material is shaped with the aid of the raw-material shaping means belonging to the robot, and the shaped raw materials are joined to form the end product. In the method, the operating system is used to control the robot to make an end product from raw material in the container, at the production site . In the method according to the invention, all the containers needed in the production system can be transported using a single truck and production premises easily can be formed from the containers at the production site, in which the robot can produce products from raw materials. Thus for example starting production of building elements, for example at a building site, is very rapid and efficient. In this context, the term controlling the robot using the operating system refers to the operating system automatically controlling the operation of the robot according to the details of the product selected by the operator. The in- terchangeability of the tools in the robot using quick-attachment means allows the robot to be used in all stages of manufacture, so that in normal production all that remains for the operator to do is to supervise the robot's operation and enter initial data. Preferably the method uses three containers and only a single robot, which is located in the middle container. Thus all the containers can be operated using one robot. In the method, tools are preferably used in connection with the robot, including a grab for the robot to grip the frame timbers and insulation of the building element being made and the finished building element, a milling cutter for cutting the insulation into suitable dimensions and milling grooves, and nozzles for spreading glue on the insulation. Using such tools, the robot can carry out all the stages of making a building element and produce finished building elements, without needing work stages performed by the operator.

According to one preferred embodiment, in the method making the building element created as a product with the aid of the robot takes place in the following stages, in which the frame timber are moved to heating, heated, the insulation is moved to the work base, the insulation is cut and grooved then blown clean, glue is spread on the grooves formed in the insulation, the heated timbers are moved against the glue in the grooves and pressed against the insulation. The glue rapidly (about 2 min) binds with moisture at the right temperature.

In the method, metal or wood-framed structures and insulation panels are preferably used as raw materials, and a building element is made as the end product. Especially in making building elements, the transporting of the finished elements is expensive, so that by using the method according to the invention, transport costs can be eliminated by making the elements on the building site .

In the method, a work base is preferably used, which comprises compressing devices for locking the raw materials to the work base, the raw materials being locked by the work base in at least one stage of making the end product. Using such a work base, the robot can do several functions consecutively with different tools and simultaneously collect the raw materials on the stencil formed by the work base, on which the finished end product is built.

In the method, a zero point is preferably formed for the cal- ibration of the robot's position with the aid of calibration elements of the work base. The work base also preferably positions the raw materials, i.e. it defines the position of the raw materials in the product, so that it is useful to define the zero point of the robot's operation at the point at which the accuracy should be greatest.

In the method, the raw materials are preferably fed into the containers through first doors in one container, and the raw materials and end products are moved inside the production system using the robot, the production system being unmanned during production, and the end products are removed from the containers through second doors in the second container. Thus production can be implemented automatically and unmanned, so that the production system can be implemented more simply than production systems according to the prior art, in which the operator and the robot work in the same space and the production system includes many safety arrangements to avoid collisions between the operator and the robot. The production system and method according to the invention permit so-called mobile unmanned production, in which only a robot is used in the physical stages of production. The operator's task remains only to enter the production parameters in the operating system, which controls the robot in implementing production.

In the following, the invention is described in detail with reference to the accompanying drawings showing some embodiments of the invention, in which shows a side view as a schematic diagram of the mobile production system according to the invention,

shows axonometrically one embodiment of the invention installed at a production site, two containers being shown only by broken lines, shows a top view of one embodiment of the production system according to the invention installed at a production site,

shows a side view of one embodiment of the production system according to the invention installed at a production site,

shows axonometrically the work base of the production system according to the invention, shows a block diagram of the operating system of the robot of the production system according to the invention,

shows axonometrically the first part of the attachment means of the production system according to the invention seen separately, shows a cross-section of the first part of the attachment means of the production system according to the invention seen separately, shows axonometrically the grab and second part of the attachment means of the production system according the invention seen separately, shows a cross-section of the grab and second part of the attachment means of the production system according to the invention seen separately, shows axonometrically the milling cutter that is the raw-material shaping means and the second part of the attachment means of the production system according to the invention seen separately, Figure 9b shows a cross-section of the milling cutter that is the raw-material shaping means and the second part of the attachment means of the production system according to the invention seen separately,

Figure shows a side view of the milling cutter blade, Figure shows axonometrically the nozzle head that is the connecting means and second part of the attachment means of the production system according to the invention seen separately,

Figure 10b shows a cross-section of the nozzle head that is the connecting means and second part of the attachment means of the production system according to the invention seen separately,

Figure shows a block diagram of the stages of the method according to the invention,

Figure show a block diagram of the production stage of one embodiment of the method according to the invention,

Figure 13 show axonometrically a product preferably produced using the production system according to the invention .

Figure 1 shows the basic components of the production system 10 according to the invention, using a preferred embodiment. The production system includes a road vehicle 12 equipped with handling means 14 and at least two containers 16 openable at the sides 20, in one of which containers 16 a robot and its operating system is arranged. The robot and its operating system are shown more clearly in Figures 2 - 4. The production means belonging to the system are shown in greater detail in Figures 5 - 10b.

In the preferred embodiment of Figure 1, the production system 10 is arranged to operate in the production of small building elements. The production system 10 then preferably includes a truck 12' as the road vehicle 12, which includes as handling means 14 a crane 14' for lifting the containers 16 onto and off the truck 12', and three containers 16. The lifting capacity of the crate 14' use is preferably 10 - 20 tonne-metres. Thus, for example, a container containing a robot weighing 4 tonnes can be moved 4 metres away. Instead of a crane, the truck can include as handling means transfer-table devices for loading containers onto a truck and its trailer. Each container 16 is preferably openable at the ends, but at least openable on one side 20. According to Figures 2 and 3, one of the containers 16 is a container 16 openable on both sides 20, which is used as the middle container 16 in the production system 10. On their opening sides, the containers are preferably equipped with curtain sides and preferably include, according to Figures 2 - 4 attachment lugs 56 at the upper and lower corners, with the aid of which the containers 16 can be lifted into place using the truck's crane. The containers 16 are always aligned with each other in the same way using the alignment marks 71 visible in Figure 3. In Figure 2, the containers 16 on either side of the middle container 16 are shown only in outline for clarity in the figure. It should be understood, however, that these containers are also closed on their ends, one side, floor, and roof, and only openable on one side. Preferably each container 16 has its own task in the production system 10 according to Figure 3. One of the containers 16, which has two openable sides, acts as the middle container 16, in which the robot 28 acting as the production means 18 is arranged. Also in it is preferably the work base 42, which supports the insulation 52 and frame timber 54 acting as raw material 24, while assembling the small building element 60 created as the end product 26. The work base 42 allows the insulation 52 to be supported firmly in place for cutting and grooving the insulation 52 and gluing the frame timbers 54. Figures 2 and 3 show only a simplified drawing of the work base 42, Figure 8 showing one real form of implementation. The work base 42 preferably includes, according to Figure 5, operating devices 72 pressing pneumatically from the sides to lock the raw materials to the work base 42 and in small-element production to press the frame timbers against the insulation. The robot 28 can then perform the said measures on the insulation 52 and frame timbers 54, as it does not have to also hold the raw materials. The operating devices 72 can be presses 74 moving on rails. In addition, the work base 42 preferably includes rails for the presses 74 that form a flat surface 78 for the raw materials. The work base 42 also preferably includes a second press 76 perpendicular to the flat surface 78, to prevent the raw materials rising up from between the presses 74 from the flat surface 78 of the work base 42.

Further, this container 16 preferably also includes the electrical connection 31 and operating system 30 of Figure 2 for controlling the robot 28. These can be shut off from the production space 22 containing the robot 28 and work base 42, so that the operator is not endangered when controlling the robot 28.

Another of the containers 16 can, in turn, act as a raw-materials store, in which insulation panels 52 for small building elements 60 can be placed. Preferably this container 16 is open on one side 20, so that the robot 28 in the adjacent container 16 can reach in to take insulation 52 and move it to the work base 42. The container 16 preferably also includes the lockable first doors 62 of Figure 3, preferably end doors, through which insulation 52 can be moved into the container 16 at the production site.

The third container 16 preferably acts as a raw-material store for the frame timbers 54 and as a store for the finished small building elements 60. This container 16 too is preferably open on one side 20, so that the robot 28 in the adjacent container 16 reaches in to take frame timbers 54 and move them to the work base 42 and also move the finished small element 60 back into the third container 16 for storage. The container 16 preferably includes second doors 63, preferably end doors, through which frame timbers 54 can be moved into the container 16 and the operator can fetch finished small elements 60 from the store 32 for use on the production site. In the packing stage before moving to the production site, raw materials can put into the containers by hand or with a fork-lift truck through their openable sides.

The production system 10 preferably includes base structures 40 shown in Figure 4, which can be, for example, I-beams or logs 41, which travel with the containers 16 and on top of which the containers 16 are assembled next to each other. The base structure is to ensure that the containers' bottoms form an essentially level and even surface on an uneven base, so that the position of the adjacent containers relative to the middle container containing the robot is always the same and constant. Thus the robot's motion paths need not be set separately each time, assuming that the containers' mutual positions are always the same .

According to Figure 4, the production system 10 preferably includes an attachment base 46 for the robot 28, which can be, for example, a frame structure welded from beams, which is welded to the frame beams of the container's frame structure 48. It is important that the robot is firmly secured, as large stresses act on the robot's base as it carries heavy loads at the end of its long arm, the direction of which can change rapidly. The at- tachment base 46 can also be arranged on rails, to move the robot in the container.

The aforementioned intermodal containers are preferably conform to the maximum dimensions permitted in road traffic. In one embodiment, the container is internally 234-cm wide, 590-cm long, and 269-cm high. The corresponding external dimensions are then 244 cm, 605 cm, 290 cm (width, length, height) . The container can also be slightly smaller, for example, 2-m wide, 5-m long, and 2-m high, but the production space is then quite cramped. Using these dimensions a normal truck 12' can be loaded with all three containers 16, according to Figure 1, and on the other hand the robot 28 placed in the middle container 16 will reach with its 310 cm reach to operate in all the containers 18 according to Figure 3, its attachment base 46 shown in Figure 4 being fixed. The containers can be completely normal intermodal containers known in road, sea, and air transport. The containers include preferably securing means or lugs, by which loose goods in the containers are secured during transport .

Preferably an electrical connection 31 according to Figure 2, through which electricity to operate the production system 10 is obtained, is located in the same container 16 as the robot 28. The production system can be self sufficient in energy, when it will include a large-current generator to produce electricity. The generator is connected to the electric connector. Alternatively, the electric connector is used to take large-current power at the production site. In this context, large-current power refers to less than 35-A current at 440-V voltage. In practice, large-current power is needed mainly for the robot ' s power supply . Current can also be used for lighting, heating, machining devices, producing compressed air, and operating vacuum devices. Electricity from the container with the electric connector can be fed to the adjacent containers using extension cables.

The containers 16 preferably also include the heating/cooling means 34 shown in Figures 3 and 4 for keeping the containers' 16 internal temperature suitable for production. The heating means 34 can be, for example, a liquid-gas heater 35, with which heat is produced for the production space formed by the containers. Alternatively, radiation heaters or an air heat pump can also be used, by which the space can also be cooled when necessary. Cooling is needed when operating in warm conditions, when the waste heat produced by the production means may raise the production space's temperature excessively. Cooling is used to prevent the production means overheating. According to one embodiment, the containers can include separate heating means for heating only the raw materials. The production system 10 for making small building elements 60 preferably includes a liquid-gas heater 35 according to Figure 3, with which the frame timbers 54 are heated to an optimal surface temperature for gluing of 60 - 80 °C. The liquid-gas heater also generally heats the air in the production space .

According to Figure 4, the robot 28 used in the production system 10 is preferably pivoted on at least five axes, when it will have sufficient degrees of freedom for the movements planned in the compact production space 22. According to the preferred em- bodiment, for example, a Fanuc R-2100iC/125 robot can be used, which has a handling capacity of 125 kg and a reach of 310 cm. This robot comprises control of a group of five axes using hand controllers, an industrial operating system, servo-motorization, and data connections. The operating system is preferably arranged in a computer, which is arranged in the same container as the robot, but separated from it by a partition (not shown) . The operating system can be, for example, Fanuc R-30iB. The operating system 30 implemented by the computer preferably includes a user interface 110 according to Figure 30 to give the operator's commands, a computing unit 112 for performing the operations, and a memory 118, in which the software means 114 for the robot 28 are stored, and a database, comprising the robot's control commands 120. In addition, the dimensions of various standard size products, for example, of the insulation panels of small building elements can be pre-stored in the memory, on the basis of which the software means select the correct control commands for the robot. In addition, the positions of the raw materials and permitted paths of motion are pre-stored in the memory with the control commands, which prevent the robot striking the containers and the production means and other parts in them. Thus the operator can use the hand controller and user interface to select from the memory desired preselected products to the production list, from which the robot automatically makes the relevant products. The robot's operating system can also be remotely controlled over a network, when the robot's paths of motion can programmed remotely. The operating system 30 also includes data-transfer links 116 according to Figure 6, by which data is transferred from the user interface 110 and computing unit 112 to the robot 28.

According to Figure 4, the robot 28 a set of booms 65, which has a first end 27 and a second end 29 and which comprises at least two booms 63. At the first end 27, the robot 28 is mounted in bearings to rotate around a vertical axis on the attachment base 46 and through it to the container 16. At the end of the robot's 28 boom 63, more specifically at the second end 29 of the set of booms 65 are attachment means 64, which allow several different tools 36 to be changed in the robot 28, embodiments are shown in Figures 8a - 10b. The attachment means can for, for example, be the robot adapter and tool adapter sold under the product name Schunk SWS 110, which is attached to each tool. The robot adapter, i.e. the first part 80 of the attachment means 64, is shown in Figures 7a and 7b and the tool adapter i.e. the second part 88 of the attachment means 64 is shown in connection with the tool 36 in Figures 8a - 10b. According to Figures 7a and 7b, the first part 80 includes an attachment surface 82 and a protruding spindle 84. The first part 80 is attached to the second end of the robot's set of booms using an attachment plate 86, using, for example, bolts or similar. According to Figures 8b, 9b, and 10 b, there is an attachment surface 87 in the second part 88, in which a shape-locking recess 89 is formed for the spindle 84 of the first part 80. The second part 88 is attached to each tool separately, i.e. each tool 36 has its own second part 88 of the attachment means 64. The first part's 80 spindle 84 can be pneumatically operated, so that each tool 36 can be quickly detached and attached to the robot 28. According to Figures 2 - 4, there can be a tool rack 55 in connection with the work base 42, in which tools are stored when not in use.

When making small building elements, these tools 36 are preferably the grab 37, shown in Figure 4, a milling cutter, a nozzle unit, and pneumatic means. The task of the grab 37 shown in greater detail in Figures 8a and 8b is to act as a gripping element for lifting raw materials, for example, frame timbers and insulation, and finished small elements. The grab 37 can have a structure consisting of a body 96 and several suction cups 98, which use compressed air to suck the cups onto the object to be gripped. In the production system according to the invention, the grab preferably used can be, for example, the grab made by the Finnish company MTC flextek Oy Ab and marketed under the product name MTCF Vacuum gripper.

The milling cutter 92 acting as the raw-material shaping device 90 shown in Figures 9a and 9b is intended is intended to machine raw material, i.e. for example cut insulation to the correct dimensions for a small building element and mill grooves in the insulation for the frame timbers. In Figures 9a and 9b, the milling cutter 92 is shown without the milling cutter blade 95, which is shown separately in Figure 9c, attached to the rotation motor 94. In the production system according to the invention the milling cutter used can preferably be, for example the milling cutter made by the Finnish company MTC flextek Oy Ab and marketed under the product name MTCF Spindle 4.4kW. The task of the nozzle unit 102 acting as connecting means 75 in Figures 10a and 10 is to feed compressed air to the robot's end, for blowing, glue for gluing the frame timbers, and water mist for hardening the glue. The nozzle unit 102 can include a body 104 and a nozzle head 106 and the second part 88 of the attachment means 64 attached to the body 104. The nozzle unit preferably used in the system according to the invention can be, for example, the nozzle unit made by the Finnish company MTC flextek Oy Ab and marketed under the product name MTCF Glue Nozzle.

According to Figure 4, the production system 10 according to the invention includes vacuum means 77 arranged in connection with the robot 28, which collect the insulation dust arising in milling. It is extremely important to collect the insulation dust, so that it does not come in contact with the glue and also that it does not float into, for example, the liquid-gas heater, where it could cause an explosive fire. The vacuum means can be implemented, for example, by using in the milling cutter a sucking machining spindle, which incorporates vacuum for collecting insulation dust. In addition to this the vacuum means can include vacuum connections arranged with the work base. In Figure 4, the vacuum means 77 are a vacuum hose arranged with the work base. According to Figure 3, the production system 10 according to the invention 10 also includes optical limit switches 66, which are intended to monitor the movement of the operator inside the containers 16. When the operator walks through the first door 62 of the container 16 preferably acting as a store 32, the optical limit switches 66 detect the operator and stop the operation of the robot 28. Thus ensuring a safe working environment for the operator, according to work-safety legislation. The system 10 also includes calibration elements 67, which are important for the movement of the robot, and are preferably placed in connection with the work base 42. The calibration elements 67 form a zero point for the robot's calibration at the corner of the work base 42, when the robot's precision on the work base 42 is very high. The calibration elements 67 are arranged to calibrate the robot 28 relative to a selected set of co-ordinates, in which the positions of objects essential to production, such as the work base, raw materials, finished product, and tools are known, as are the positions of obstacles to the robot's movement. In addition, the production precision is preferably improved by the work base acting as a dimensionally accurate positioning stencil, placing the raw materials correctly relative to each other.

The following is a description, with the aid of the block diagram of Figure 11, of the use of one preferred embodiment of the method according to the invention for implementing a mobile production system. The method preferably starts with packing the required raw materials in containers in stage 200. When using three containers in producing small building elements, the insulation is packed in one container from its openable sides and corre- spondingly the frame timbers in a second container from its openable sides. The raw materials are secured for transport and the containers closed. The truck's crane is used to lift the containers onto the truck according to stage 202 or the containers can be already lifted before packing the raw materials. Next, the truck is used to move the containers to the building site according to stage 204, where depending on conditions either a base structure is formed for the containers on an uneven surface, or the containers are unloaded onto an existing flat base according to stage 206. The container containing the robot is set in the middle and its curtain sides on the sides are opened. Correspondingly, the single curtain sides of the other containers are also opened. The other containers are then lifted on both sides of the middle container to combine the containers to make a unified production space according to stage 208 and the curtain sides of the middle container can be spread as protection on top of the other containers.

Power is connected to the containers by an electrical connection, according to stage 210, either by starting a generator for producing electricity to the power connection or alternatively by connecting a large-current cable at the building site to the container's power connection. The container's heating devices are preferably also started to heat the production space formed by the containers. The dimensions of the selected small building elements to be produced can now be entered in the robot or can be selected directly from the operating system's memory to form a production list. After creating the production list, production can be started using the robot according to stage 212, controlling the robot by its operating system, according to stage 214.

The production of small building elements takes place preferably according to Figure 12 in stages 300 - 314 using a robot. In the first stage the robot selects a grab as a tool, using which the robot goes to pick up frame timbers for liquid-gas heating according to stage 300 and insulation on the work base according to stage 302. Next, the robot replaces the grab with a milling cutter, with which it cuts the insulation to the selected size according to stage 304 and to form the required grooves directly in the insulation according to stage 306. After milling the grooves, the robot replaces the milling cutter with a nozzle unit and uses compressed air from the nozzle unit to blow the insulation dust created in milling away from the surface of the insulation, according to stage 308. In all the replacement events, quick-attachment means are used, which are described previously. The robot then spreads, in stage 310, glue using the nozzle unit into the grooves in the insulation and finally sprays water mist to activate the glue. After water spraying, the robot again replaces the nozzle unit with a grab and lifts the heated frame timbers from liquid-gas heating and places, in stage 312, the frame timbers against the glue surface in the grooves in the insulation. After this, the frame timbers are pressed, in stage 314, from the sides using the work base towards the insulation parallel to the insulation surface and the insulation is pressed flat against the work base using the robot's grab. After pressing, the robot grips the finished small element and moves it to the store in the adjacent container. Finally, the robot can move the cut piece of insulation back to the store before beginning to assemble the next element.

According to one embodiment, assembly of a small building element takes place in the following stages using a robot. First the robot picks frame timbers from the timber store and places them in the heating station. Next, the robot is used to bring an insulation panel from the stack of blanks to the work base. The robot mills the insulation panel and cuts it ready to the dimensions required in the finished product. During milling grooves are cut for the timbers. After possible cutting, the so-called waste pieces are removed from the work base. Next, the timbers in the heating state are brought one at a time by the robot. Glue is spread and water is sprayed on the timber. The timber is set in the insulation panel. When all the timbers are set in the insulation, drying is awaited. The finished element is taken to the finished stack in the adjacent container.

The product made using the production system and method according to the invention can be, for example, a small building element 60 according to Figure 13 for forming a load-bearing wall, or a roof, ceiling, or floor. Such a small element 60 includes only a single thermal-insulation piece, i.e. insulation 52 to thermally insulate the small element 60 and at least two load-bearing supporting parts, i.e. preferably frame timbers 54, for giving the small element 60 a load-bearing capacity, each support part being glued to the thermal-insulation piece. The insulation piece, i.e. insulation 52 is pre-manufactured from polyurethane in a panel shape and is a unified structure, forming the small element's thermal insulation, vapour barrier, and wind barrier. The thermal-insulation piece, i.e. insulation 52 has an inner surface 68 and outer surface 50 and recesses 70 are formed in the insulation piece's inner surface 68 for the support parts, i.e. frame timbers 54. The structure of such a small building element is extremely simple and using a unified thermal-insulation piece eliminates cold bridges in it. The insulation piece extends over the full width of the building element and also forms three functional totalities, i.e. an insulation layer, a wind barrier, and a vapour barrier. The thermal-insulation piece is also homogeneous, thus avoiding problems of moisture condensation between different layers, as in solutions of the prior art. Because the insulation piece made from a single piece has its own rigidity, there is no needed to connect the support parts to each other using separate transverse support parts as the insulation piece acts as a connecting structure. With the building element according to the invention, very unique and efficient new and renovation building is achieved, which can easily take the customer's wishes into account .

The production system according to the invention can also be used as a mobile production unit at existing production sites such as factories and similar. Using the mobile production system capacity can be easily increased and reduced as required and possibly move the capacity for use at other sites. The production system can be used, for example, in the automotive industry to make sub-assemblies or similar metal machining, in which the mobile production system according to the invention is used to produce some sub-assemblies for cars from components. The in- vention is also suitable for use in mobile production systems in the engineering industry.