Symbio Robotics/Ford: AI-enabled robotics in manufacturing
The next frontier of manufacturing
Founded in 2014, Symbio Robotics helps manufacturers to increase their factory efficiency by automating processes that before, could only be done manually. Through its combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and industrial robotics, Symbio Robotics is a pioneer for “the next frontier of manufacturing.”
Building automations that enable human and machine collaboration, Symbio Robotics’ designs technology to mitigate existing manufacturing pain points. “Through the use of AI applied by people, the robots quickly learn and execute tasks increasing efficiency, improving quality and reducing ergonomic hazards,” says Symbio Robotics.
Ford Motor Company harnesses Symbio Robotics technology
Deployed at its Livonia Transmission Plant, Symbio Robotics’ robot deployed at the plant is programmed and managed with Symbio’s robot-agnostic platform (SymbioDCS) to assemble transmissions for Ford’s Bronco Sport, Escape and Edge.
With the assembly process for transmissions being renowned for its complexity from an efficiency and safety standpoint, many manufacturers have taken to automating the challenging possess.
Helping Ford to reduce complexities, and increase efficiency and safety, Ford has seen a 15% cycle time improvement compared to its previous method for transmission torque converter assembly. Collecting large amounts of data, Symbio Robotics AI-controlled robot installs components into the transmission, predicting how it should assemble the next components based on previous performance.
“Symbio’s focus is on delivering technology that allows companies like Ford to adopt AI as a core competency. AI-enabled automation looks very different. It's not just about automation, it's about providing tools that empower automation teams to deploy and maintain more general, flexible systems,” said Max Reynolds, CEO and co-founder, Symbio Robotics.
“As the mobility landscape continues to rapidly change there is an increasing demand for much faster product life cycles. Using the Symbio technology, we’ve observed a 15% improvement in cycle time and greater than 50% reduction in adapting to new products over the previous manufacturing method," said Harry Kekedjian, Advanced Controls and Digital Factory Manager, Ford.
Hexagon Revolutionises Manufacturing Design Process
A global leader in sensor, software and autonomous solutions, Hexagon recently announced that complex CFD (computational fluid dynamics) simulations can now be completed with the help of the world’s fastest supercomputer, Fugaku. Before this breakthrough, CFD simulations were far too expensive and time-consuming to run. Now, however, engineers can use these high-detail simulations to explore new ideas, iterate their designs, and optimise next-gen aircraft and electric vehicle manufacturing.
Thanks to Hexagon, manufacturers can now analyse what they’re up against before starting their build process—with one-third the energy use of traditional simulations and a fraction of the cost. This is only the latest step in Hexagon’s mission to use design and engineering data to speed up smart manufacturing. As the company wrote: ‘The idea of putting data to work is part of Hexagon’s DNA’.
What Are CFD Simulations?
Simply put, they’re simulations so complex and powerful that engineers usually have to spend hours upon hours simplifying their designs. 90% of an engineer’s time can centre around this task—but not with Fugaku-powered simulations. Now, original designs can be fed into the simulation software, reaching a much closer approximation of reality.
With the ARM-powered Fugaku supercomputer, Hexagon’s Cradle CFD clients can now reduce simulation cost, conserve valuable energy, and integrate high-detail simulations into their daily operations. At a time when the automotive and aerospace industries are racing to bring safe and sustainable transport options to market, in fact, CFD simulations could be the key to success.
How Does CFD Change the Game?
As auto manufacturers transition to electric vehicles, they must understand how design adjustments will affect the vehicle in real-time. Instead of physically iterating their blueprints, they’d rather work it out in theory. With CFD, engineers can now pre-test critical safety, performance, and longevity features—for example, how aerodynamics will interact with energy efficiency, or how thermal management will operate under a range of parameters. Essentially, CFD simulations speed up the design process and cut down on costly mistakes.
Said Roger Assaker, President of Design & Engineering in Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division: ‘Simulation holds the key to innovations in aerospace and eMobility. Advances such as the low-power Fugaku supercomputing architecture are one of the ways we can tap into these insights without costing the Earth, and I am delighted by what our Cradle CFD team and our partners have achieved’.
How Did Testing Unfold?
- Prototyped a typical family car. This is only possible with enhanced computing power. The car model consisted of 70 million elements using 960 cores and was simulated until it reached a steady-state using the RANS equation over 1000 cycles.
- Simulated transonic compressible fluid around an aeroplane. Made up of approximately 230 million elements, the simulation used 4,000 nodes using 192,000 computing cores and relied on 48,000 processes via Message Passing Interface (MPI).
Tomohiro Irie, Hexagon’s Director of R&D for Cradle CFD, commented on the recent progress: ‘I expect that these technical developments will contribute to making the power of Fugaku more accessible for general use, bringing huge freedom and improved insights to engineering teams solving tomorrow’s problems today’.
Overall, Hexagon intends to continue driving product innovation forward, with smart manufacturing that adapts to conditions in real-time, pursues perfect quality, and optimises designs for zero waste. And there’s little doubt about it. With 20,000 employees in 50 countries, coupled with Fugaku’s supercomputing capabilities, Hexagon is uniquely poised to succeed.