Kit preparation with cobot-supported sorting in mixed model assembly
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Kitting is a common approach of materials supply with mixed-model assembly, by which components are supplied to the assembly process in pre-sorted kits. With kitting, the kit preparation is a labour intensive process and order batching is often applied to enhance efficiency. Here, improved quality and efficiency by means of automation is desirable, but knowledge of the potential of collaborative robots to support kit preparation with order batching is lacking. The purpose of this paper is to identify the potential of cobots to support time-efficient kit preparation with order batching, when the pick task is performed manually and a cobot carries out the sort task. A modelling approach is applied with experimental data from laboratory experiments to compare the cycle time between fully manual and cobot-supported kit preparation with order batching. The findings suggest that a cobot-supported sort task leads to a comparable average cycle time, with less variability of the cycle time, when compared to the fully manual setup. The paper contributes several insights on the application of cobots to support kit preparation, and the model developed in the paper can be used by practitioners to assess the potential of cobots to support their processes for kit preparation.