Yazaki and NEC streamline robot operations with AI

9th November 2023
Sheryl Miles

Yazaki Corporation and NEC Corporation have successfully conducted a demonstration experiment utilising the ‘NEC Digital Robot Motion Planning Solution.’

This AI-driven system automatically formulates operational plans for multiple robots engaged in the production of automotive wire harnesses.

Advancements in robotic manufacturing

The experiment marked a significant improvement in efficiency by replacing the traditional 40-day engineer-led teaching process with an AI system that accomplished the task in just a single day. Moreover, the AI managed to trim the manufacturing timeline by approximately 10% by optimising the robots' movements for speedier production.

Towards mass production and commercialisation

Following these promising results, both companies launched tests for the mass production of wire harnesses in October, targeting the commercial release of the system by July 2025. This venture is set to be Japan's first substantial application of AI in developing motion plans for multiple robots across varied wire harness manufacturing.

System integration and simulation

The breakthrough was achieved by integrating the NEC solution with Yazaki's robotic system and wire harness assembly simulator. The AI processes product data, such as design details and operational tasks, and collaborates with a simulator to generate efficient motion plans while ensuring the robots and other equipment operate without conflict. Should any operational interference occur, the AI promptly revises the motion plan to eliminate the issue. This system also allows for the swift reconfiguration of operational plans in response to new product introductions or changes in product specifications, thereby bypassing complex teaching processes.

Enhancing production flexibility with AI

Yazaki plans to deploy multiple robots to enhance its agile response to diverse and fluctuating production demands. By connecting AI-generated motion plans with production scheduling and performance metrics, it is possible to forecast and monitor energy usage, furthering efforts towards carbon neutrality.

NEC's vision for global deployment

NEC is looking to commercialise this solution by 2024 to support consistent production and augment quality via digital twins in manufacturing. Additionally, the corporation envisions a global roll-out of this technology to address challenges like labour shortages and the transfer of technical expertise.

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