skip to main content


This content will become publicly available on February 1, 2025

Title: A Review of Prospects and Opportunities in Disassembly With Human–Robot Collaboration
Abstract

Product disassembly plays a crucial role in the recycling, remanufacturing, and reuse of end-of-use (EoU) products. However, the current manual disassembly process is inefficient due to the complexity and variation of EoU products. While fully automating disassembly is not economically viable given the intricate nature of the task, there is potential in using human–robot collaboration (HRC) to enhance disassembly operations. HRC combines the flexibility and problem-solving abilities of humans with the precise repetition and handling of unsafe tasks by robots. Nevertheless, numerous challenges persist in technology, human workers, and remanufacturing work, which require comprehensive multidisciplinary research to address critical gaps. These challenges have motivated the authors to provide a detailed discussion on the opportunities and obstacles associated with introducing HRC to disassembly. In this regard, the authors have conducted a review of the recent progress in HRC disassembly and present the insights gained from this analysis from three distinct perspectives: technology, workers, and work.

 
more » « less
Award ID(s):
2026533
NSF-PAR ID:
10486950
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
ASME
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Manufacturing Science and Engineering
Volume:
146
Issue:
2
ISSN:
1087-1357
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. A rapid rise in the recycling and remanufacturing of end-of-use electronic waste (e-waste) has been observed due to multiple factors including our increased dependence on electronic products and the lack of resources to meet the demand. E-waste disassembly, which is the operation of extracting valuable components for recycling purposes, has received ever increasing attention as it can serve both the economy and the environment. Traditionally, e-waste disassembly is labor intensive with significant occupational hazards. To reduce labor costs and enhance working efficiency, collaborative robots (cobots) might be a viable option and the feasibility of deploying cobots in high-risk or low value-added e-waste disassembly operations is of tremendous significance to be investigated. Therefore, the major objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of working with a cobot during e-waste disassembly processes on human workload and ergonomics through a human subject experiment. Statistical results revealed that using a cobot to assist participants with the desktop disassembly task reduced the sum of the NASA-TLX scores significantly compared to disassembling by themselves (p = 0.001). With regard to ergonomics, a significant reduction was observed in participants’ mean L5/S1 flexion angle as well as mean shoulder flexion angle on both sides when working with the cobot (p < 0.001). However, participants took a significantly longer time to accomplish the disassembly task when working with the cobot (p < 0.001), indicating a trade-off of deploying cobot in the e-waste disassembly process. Results from this study could advance the knowledge of how human workers would behave and react during human-robot collaborative e-waste disassembly tasks and shed light on the design of better HRC for this specific context. 
    more » « less
  2. Abstract Disassembly is an essential step for remanufacturing end-of-life (EOL) products. Optimization of disassembly sequences and the utilization of robotic technology could alleviate the labor-intensive nature of dismantling operations. This study proposes an optimization framework for disassembly sequence planning under uncertainty considering human–robot collaboration. The proposed framework combines three attributes: disassembly cost, safety, and complexity of disassembly, namely disassembleability, to identify the optimal disassembly path and allocate operations between human and robot. A multi-attribute utility function is used to address uncertainty and make a tradeoff among multiple attributes. The disassembly time reflects the cost of disassembly which is assumed to be an uncertain parameter with a Beta distribution; the disassembleability evaluates the feasibility of conducting operations by robot; finally, the safety index ensures the protection of human workers in the work environment. An example of dismantling a desktop computer is used to show the application. The model identifies the optimal disassembly sequence with less disassembly cost, high disassembleability, and increased safety index while allocating disassembly operations among human and robot. A sensitivity analysis is conducted to show the model's performance when changing the disassembly cost for the robot. 
    more » « less
  3. Disassembly is an integral part of maintenance, upgrade, and remanufacturing operations to recover end-of-use products. Optimization of disassembly sequences and the capability of robotic technology are crucial for managing the resource-intensive nature of dismantling operations. This study proposes an optimization framework for disassembly sequence planning under uncertainty considering human-robot collaboration. The proposed model combines three attributes: disassembly cost, disassembleability, and safety, to find the optimal path for dismantling a product and assigning each disassembly operation among humans and robots. The multi-attribute utility function has been employed to address uncertainty and make a tradeoff among multiple attributes. The disassembly time reflects the cost of disassembly and is assumed to be an uncertain parameter with a Beta probability density function; the disassembleability evaluates the feasibility of conducting operations by robot; finally, the safety index ensures the safety of human workers in the work environment. The optimization model identifies the best disassembly sequence and makes tradeoffs among multi-attributes. An example of a computer desktop illustrates how the proposed model works. The model identifies the optimal disassembly sequence with less disassembly cost, high disassembleability, and increased safety index while allocating disassembly operations between human and robot. A sensitivity analysis is conducted to show the model's performance when changing the disassembly cost for the robot. 
    more » « less
  4. This paper presents a comprehensive disassembly sequence planning (DSP) algorithm in the human–robot collaboration (HRC) setting with consideration of several important factors including limited resources and human workers’ safety. The proposed DSP algorithm is capable of planning and distributing disassembly tasks among the human operator, the robot, and HRC, aiming to minimize the total disassembly time without violating resources and safety constraints. Regarding the resource constraints, we consider one human operator and one robot, and a limited quantity of disassembly tools. Regarding the safety constraints, we consider avoiding potential human injuries from to-be-disassembled components and possible collisions between the human operator and the robot due to the short distance between disassembly tasks. In addition, the transitions for tool changing, the moving between disassembly modules, and the precedence constraint of components to be disassembled are also considered and formulated as constraints in the problem formulation. Both numerical and experimental studies on the disassembly of a used hard disk drive (HDD) have been conducted to validate the proposed algorithm. 
    more » « less
  5. Background: The increasing prevalence of robots in industrial environments is attributed in part to advancements in collaborative robot technologies, enabling robots to work in close proximity to humans. Simultaneously, the rise of teleoperation, involving remote robot control, poses unique opportunities and challenges for human-robot collaboration (HRC) in diverse and distributed workspaces. Purpose: There is not yet a comprehensive understanding of HRC in teleoperation, specifically focusing on collaborations involving the teleoperator, the robot, and the local or onsite workers in industrial settings, here referred to as teleoperator-robot-human collaboration (tRHC). We aimed to identify opportunities, challenges, and potential applications of tRHC through insights provided from industry stakeholders, thereby supporting effective future industrial implementations. Methods: Thirteen stakeholders in robotics, specializing in different domains (i.e., safety, robot manufacturing, aerospace/automotive manufacturing, and supply chains), completed semi-structured interviews that focused on exploring diverse aspects relevant to tRHC. The interviews were then transcribed and thematic analysis was applied to group responses into broader categories, which were further compared across stakeholder industries. Results We identified three main categories and 13 themes from the interviews. These categories include Benefits, Concerns, and Technical Challenges. Interviewees highlighted accessibility, ergonomics, flexibility, safety, time & cost saving, and trust as benefits of tRHC. Concerns raised encompassed safety, standards, trust, and workplace optimization. Technical challenges consisted of critical issues such as communication time delays, the need for high dexterity in robot manipulators, the importance of establishing shared situational awareness among all agents, and the potential of augmented and virtual reality in providing immersive control interfaces. Conclusions: Despite important challenges, tRHC could offer unique benefits, facilitating seamless collaboration among the teleoperator, teleoperated robot(s), and onsite workers across physical and geographic boundaries. To realize such benefits and address the challenges, we propose several research directions to further explore and develop tRHC capabilities. 
    more » « less