Flow shop scheduling problem and solution in cooperative robotics - case-study: One cobot in cooperation with one worker
This research combines between two different manufacturing concepts. On the one hand, flow shop scheduling is a well-known problem in production systems. The problem appears when a group of jobs shares the same processing sequence on two or more machines sequentially. Flow shop scheduling tries to find the appropriate solution to optimize the sequence order of this group of jobs over the existing machines. The goal of flow shop scheduling is to obtain the continuity of the flow of the jobs over the machines. This can be obtained by minimizing the delays between two consequent jobs, therefore the overall makespan can be minimized. On the other hand, collaborative robotics is a relatively recent approach in production where a collaborative robot (cobot) is capable of a close proximity cooperation with the human worker to increase the manufacturing agility and flexibility. The simplest case-study of a collaborative workcell is one cobot in cooperation with one worker. This collaborative workcell can be seen as a special case of the shop flow scheduling problem, where the required time from the worker to perform a specific job is unknown and variable. Therefore, during this research, we implement an intelligent control solution which can optimize the flow shop scheduling problem over the previously mentioned case-study.