Mark Halonen
August 11th, 2021
Coho Logo

Laurium Labs, under contract for REL Inc., has developed Coho: a breakthrough technology product for industrial dip and conveyor lines. REL has been in the business of OEM equipment for decades, using traditional PLC controls on their lines. The PLC paradigm was adequate, but there was room for improvement with modern compute and web technologies. This software is a state of the art Industry 4.0 solution, bringing factories to the future.

A dip line looks like this:


It has multiple Tanks (grey) and a Hoist (orange) that travels above the tanks. It can pick up and set down the Carriers which hold the parts.

Here's a simplified graphic which we'll reference in this blog post:

Coho Graphic

In this graphic, the Transporter is the claw, the Tanks are grey boxes, and the Carriers are black boxes.

A Carrier has to follow a Recipe, for example

1. 2 minutes in Rinse #1

2. 1-2 minutes in the Etch

3. 30 minutes in either Plating #1 or Plating #2

4. 5 minutes in Rinse #2

5. 3-4 minutes in Dry

Each Carrier has its own Recipe which is configurable in the Coho web interface. The line is also configurable, as each line is different. The optimization goal is to get Carriers through the line at the fastest rate possible while adhering to the minimum/maximum constraints on the Station times configured by the user.

The search space on the number of ways to move the transporter to satisfy the Recipes on each Carrier is gigantic, prompting us at Laurium Labs to employ a litany of optimization tools including Genetic Algorithms, Solvers, and Machine Learning in our favorite language Julia.

Not only does Coho run the line in production, it is also used in the design phase of the equipment to gauge throughput bottlenecks. For this, Laurium Labs animates the motion plan over time, for example:

These animations serve as a powerful sales tool, as the transporter motion plan is on display for any stakeholder to verify. Simulating the system also opens the doors to analysis. Here are examples of analysing the Transporter Usage Rate and also the Throughput Analysis over time:

Coho Analysis Charts

In addition to solving the transporter planning problem, Laurium Labs delivered a web interface and database that allows for operating, managing, and maintaining the equipment. The web interface allows for anyone with a laptop or iPad to login to the system and peruse any of the sensor data which is collected at 1 Hz frequency and stored for 10+ years.

Over the last couple years, Laurium Labs has developed and delivered Coho, which is now installed on multiple onsite locations.

Our client REL Inc. is now armed with a powerful software product that provides superior performance for a fraction of the cost, compared to the previous solution of custom PLC controls per line. Checkout the 3D animator of the linear Coho system.

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