In this article VTT Oy and the Robotics Society in Finland present the success stories of two Finnish companies – Normet and Visual Components – with which they collaborated.
The development of Normet SmartSpray was carried out in close co-operation between specialised parties and is an excellent example of a long-term, cooperative, and ultimately successful research and development collaboration between the equipment manufacturer Normet Oy, the control system supplier Exertus Oy, and the research institute VTT Oy.
Concrete spraying manipulators are multi-axis devices whose manual control requires a high degree of skill and experience. Normet SmartSpray® is Normet’s initiative to automate the concrete spray application in mining and tunneling.
The SmartSpray technology makes extensive use of techniques and methods from machine automation and robotics to allow the operator to focus only on the positioning of the nozzle tip instead of controlling the individual joints of the boom. Techniques of inverse kinematics and the management of redundant degrees of freedom are implemented to control the boom movements.
Normet SmartSpray system. Photo credits: Normet Oy
The computer assistance makes it possible to maintain the perpendicularity to the surface to be sprayed, which is essential for the quality of the spray application. The control system provides additional operating modes to support the operator with the various spraying tasks. Point-to-point control mode, for example, automatically moves the spray nozzle back and forth between two previously defined points along a straight line, and the operator can adjust this line or segment during operation with just one joystick.
Until now, the quality of the sprayed concrete could vary significantly between operators. Normet SmartSpray minimizes the operator’s influence on the spray result and, at the same time, increases productivity in the spray application.
Visual Components, with over 20 years in global business, is one of the pioneers of the 3D manufacturing simulation industry. The company started with a humble goal – to make manufacturing design and simulation technology easy to use and accessible to manufacturers of all sizes. It offers machine builders, system integrators, and manufacturers a simple, quick, and cost-effective solution to design and simulate production lines through the entire system life cycle, from concept to operation.
“Companies, in all industries, face great challenges in the future – digital transformation and automation as well as sustainability. We see that simulation software can play a pivotal role in all bringing more efficient and smarter methods to produce goods. The by-product of introducing more automation and digitalization and ensuring efficient practices is ultimately more sustainable strategies,” says Mikko Urho, CEO of Visual Components.
With solutions for manufacturing design, sales, and application development, Visual Components software is trusted by hundreds of organisations worldwide to support critical planning and decision-making processes.
Authors – Normet: Mr. Kalle Määttä, Normet Oy, and Dr. Tapio Heikkilä, VTT Oy. Visual Components: Laura Mertanen, Communications and Events Marketing Manager of Visual Components
Header photo credits: Visual Components