The goal of the project is to investigate robotically-enabled ultrasonic inspection of high-quality welds right first time, every time, in challenging industrial environments.
Traditionally, welding and inspection of high-integrity joints are separate, sequential, often manual processes in manufacturing and repair. Ultimately, these limitations reduce productivity, throughput, schedule certainty and increase rework if defects are detected at weld completion. As welding is a dynamic volumetric process, fusing joints of depth and width, this project seeks to exploit the volumetric imaging capability of ultrasonics, and introduce this inspection modality directly into the welding process control loop. By investigating robotic in-process ultrasonic inspection and control, this project aims to deliver high-integrity welds right, first time, every time and overcome current technical and process limitations.
In-process ultrasonic-enabled welding control aims to offer significant reductions, estimated from current operational data of:
· > 55% in weld process time
· > 50% in overall weld cost
· > 75% in man hours
These significant technical, commercial and safety benefits underpin long-term research sustainability and empower research for future funding, research and commercialisation.
The student will be based in the newly opened £2.1M Sensor Enabled Automation & Control Hub (SEARCH) Laboratory, working alongside a research team of over 35 researchers and PhD Students, while also having access to state of the art sensor, robotic and welding equipment.
The student will undertake specific industrial technical training courses (Ultrasonics, Welding and KUKA Advanced Robotic Programming) along with the University Research Development Program (RDP) to deliver training and development on traditional PhD activities such as presentations, conferences and journal writing.
The student will work in collaboration and spend time on site working with the lead industry partner to gain a greater appreciation of the specific industrial challenges and opportunity for automated inspection during fusion welding.
The student will receive an additional £4,000 per year stipend-top on top of the standard EPSRC stipend, while also having access to substantial international travel and project funds.
This project promises to be an exciting, fun and industrially relevant project, working alongside skilled engineers and scientists with state-of-the-art ultrasonic equipment to delivery meaningful industrial change.