Bosch Australia launches ‘APAS assistant’: a flexible, mobile automation solution for connected production

The increasing trend towards collaborating robotic solutions has prompted Bosch Australia to expand into safe robot kinematics. This has been manifested in the development of a flexible, connected, safe and collaborative Automated Production Assistant (APAS) solution.

The mobile production APAS system includes sensor skin-protected automation that allows for direct and safe collaboration with people.

Andrew Bartlett, General Manager of Manufacturing Solutions at Bosch, points out.

“The mobile assistants have been tried and tested in many Bosch facilities throughout the world. Now they are available in Australia for external customers.”

Thanks to its standardized operating concept and its interconnectivity, the APAS can be flexibly integrated into manufacturing processes.

“The factory of the future requires more agile machines and robots that can flexibly take over from stationary manufacturing systems along the entire production chain,” continued Andrew.

“At the same time, the possibility of direct interaction with humans and integrated safety systems play an important role.”

The APAS production assistants are designed to support technical staff with critical process steps, monotonous and messy jobs, and above all to collaborate directly with human beings. The APAS inspector, for instance, is equipped with a high-definition camera and an innovative 3D technology and inspects highly delicate surfaces or performs complete checks.

The safe interaction of humans and machines is at the heart of the APAS assistants. It is equipped with a six-axis industrial robot arm, a sensitive three-finger gripper and a 3D camera system. As opposed to other robot systems, the gripper arm of the APAS assistant is covered with a highly sensitive sensor skin.

Even without direct contact, this skin allows the system to recognise when a member of staff comes too close. It then immediately stops its work and waits until the employee has left the danger zone, resuming operation automatically.

“This application is unique in the market and enables man and machine to work hand in hand,” Andrew explains.

Bosch Australia President Gavin Smith noted the importance of advanced manufacturing systems such as APAS to the future of Australian manufacturing.

"Australian manufacturers continue to face ongoing cost and productivity challenges. The APAS collaborative robot, alongside bespoke production equipment and software by Bosch, gives Australian manufacturers state of the art manufacturing solutions that address these challenges" Smith said.