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On constraints in assembly planning

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3 Author(s)
Jones, R.E. ; Intelligent Syst. & Robotics Center, Sandia Nat. Labs., Albuquerque, NM, USA ; Wilson, R.H. ; Calton, T.L.

Constraints on assembly plans vary depending on product, assembly facility, assembly volume, and many other factors. Assembly costs and other measures to optimize vary just as widely. To be effective, computer-aided assembly planning systems must allow users to express the plan selection criteria that apply to their products and production environments. We begin by surveying the types of user criteria, both constraints and quality measures, that have been accepted by assembly planning systems to date. The survey is organized along several dimensions, including strategic versus tactical criteria; manufacturing requirements versus requirements of the automated planning process itself; and the information needed to assess compliance with each criterion. The latter strongly influences the efficiency of planning. We then focus on constraints. We describe a framework to support a wide variety of user constraints for intuitive and efficient assembly planning. Our framework expresses all constraints on a sequencing level, specifying orders and conditions on part mating operations in a number of ways. Constraints are implemented as simple procedures that either accept or reject assembly operations proposed by the planner. For efficiency, some constraints are supplemented with special-purpose modifications to the planner's algorithms. Fast replanning enables an interactive plan-view-constrain-replan cycle that aids in constraint discovery and documentation. We describe an implementation of the framework in a computer-aided assembly planning system and experiments applying the system to a number of complex assemblies, including one with 472 parts

Published in:

Robotics and Automation, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:14 ,  Issue: 6 )