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17-08-2021
4 min. read
Shelly Boom

IXON contributes to award-winning senior project of Binghamton University New York students

Exploring the impact of cloud computing, big data analytics and simulation on cobot performance in pharmacy automation

Five students of Binghamton University in New York have been awarded for their senior project, which included an implementation of the IXON solution. The project looked at augmenting and improving the functionality of the Universal Robot UR5 cobot in the automated pharmacy solutions industry, by implementing simulation and cloud computing. 

We talked to the students to find out more about their project and their collaboration with IXON. 

University NY students senior project with IXON Science in Industrial & Systems engineering students, from left to right: Daniel McGrath, Shazid Khan, Francesca Cassano, Zachary Calabrese and Robert Nicosia.

Could you please describe your project in short?

“The purpose of this project was to combine three Industry 4.0 pillars; cloud computing, big data analytics and simulation with an automated pharmacy cobot and explore the impact that the improvements have on the performance of the cobot tasked with packaging. 

In addition we used three other Industry 4.0 pillars: autonomous robots, artificial intelligence and industrial internet of things. The end goal was to positively augment the current functionality of the UR5 cobot by utilising these pillars.” 

What prompted your project?

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, people were buying out the shelves of anything that could benefit their health. Johnson & Johnson, market leader in healthcare products, could not keep up with customer demand and was completely selling out on certain products. With the implementation of cobots, Johnson & Johnson would be able to fulfill demand, both effectively and efficiently, so we decided to base our project on this topic.”

The IXrouter connected to the Universal Robots UR5. The IXrouter connected to the Universal Robots UR5.

What exactly did you research during your project?

“We implemented the use of simulation and cloud computing to see whether improving the functionality of the UR5 would pay off. We created assembly and packaging programs which were replicated in RoboDK industrial automation simulation software with the goal of reducing the cycle time of programs. Cloud control of the UR5 was implemented through the use of the IXON IXrouter3 with the goal of reducing the setup time and variation in setup time.” 

Remote access by VPN connection allowed us to run an entire smart factory of robots through one computer.

Zachary Calabrese
Science in Industrial and Systems Engineering graduate at Binghamton University New York

How did you use IXON’s solution for your project?

“The IXrouter and IXON Cloud allowed us to gain remote access to the UR5 cobot by VPN connection. This way we were able to control it remotely from our laptops to run our created pick and place programs. This method could further be used to teleoperate connected machines, and even run an entire smart factory of cobots through one computer. 

IXON gave us the possibility to create a customised service portal to monitor connected machines. Additionally it allowed us to have remote access to data analysis and predictive maintenance while providing a no-code remote service.”

UR5 picks and places pill bottles. UR5 picks and places pill bottles.

What were the most important findings of your project? 

“The implementation of simulation and cloud computing showed an encouraging level of success in improving the functionality of the UR5. The cycle times were significantly lowered, leading to increased throughput and successful augmentation through simulation. 

We were successful in bridging the gaps between cobots and the simulation pillar. This was achieved through our creation of eleven pick and place program simulations in RoboDK, along with the cloud computing and IIoT pillars through the use of the IXrouter. We proved that the functionality of pharmacy cobots can be improved using simulation and cloud computing.” 

The significantly lowered cycle times lead to increased throughput and successful augmentation through simulation.

Daniel McGrath
Science in Industrial & Systems Engineering graduate at Binghamton University New York

How did you perceive your collaboration with IXON during your senior project?

“Collaborating with IXON was absolutely amazing. They provided us with a very advanced piece of technology that we were able to showcase in our project while also staying in constant contact with us. Every question we had was answered with ease, even with the massive time difference. We would undoubtedly work with IXON again if given the opportunity.”

The group of five won the prestigious Process and Modeling Analysis Track at the 2021 General Donald R. Keith Memorial Capstone Conference. On behalf of everyone at IXON, we would like to congratulate all five students with their graduation and the award they received.

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