Standardization of the robot development process

In one of the previous blog post (https://dtmates.com/robot-manufacturing-process-automation/) I wrote few words related to the automation of the robot manufacturing process. One of them is the concept of standardization. Here I would like to share few words on – why standardization is needed and why we do it at all.

What we try to standardize and how we do it:

Robot standardization

All of our robots share the same pattern; they are made of modules responsible for different aspects around business processes (build the same way for all robots) and main module responsible for realization of the client’s business process. We also maintain the naming standards for elements of both the robot and the platform itself. 

Standardization of the process’ logical division

All business processes are divided in the way that lets us maximize the speed of robots’ work and allows us to scale robots horizontally. Furthermore, this divided business process makes change management easier and less prone to errors.

Configuration management standardization

All of our robots use our central configuration management system and the configuration itself is used and stored in a standard manner.

Testing process standards

Robot’s testing process preparation is an inseparable element of all robot shepherds’ work. For all of our robots we create automation tests performed by other dedicated robots.

Reporting and monitoring standardization

Our robots always generate reports in which they describe their work – these reports have business character and contains data related to the business process. In addition, all operations are logged and stored in external log repository. It allows us to monitor our robots on-line, both in terms of business and technical.

Why we do it? Why we standardize at all?

The quickest answer is – because it is faster and cheaper (though at the beginning it seems the opposite). Thanks to standardization, new robo shepherds are able to start their work faster and can deliver robots for our clients earlier. Our standards facilitate the change management process, shorten the time needed to find and remove errors and let us automate robots’ installation. Finally, it gives us more control over individual robots, which in turn allows us to build entire robotic farms.

Standardization is a process, it doesn’t mean that once created standard is eternal and carved in stone. In our case, we make reviews of our standards from time to time (we discuss their form) and if we decide that some element should be changed, we prepare a new version. However, such a change must be well-argued and can not result from the short term needs (“taking a shortcut”).

We know for experience that taking shortcuts always ends with unexpected problems.

Bartosz Pietras
Head of IT

Robot manufacturing process automation

Is it possible to deal with large-scale robotization (more than a few robots) without automating the processes of creating, installing and monitoring robots?

We believe it isn’t. Robots used in RPA is a piece of software which sometimes needs to be changed. They work on applications which may also change from time to time what can cause even more complications. When starting robotization journey you should be always prepared for both of these factors and have tools to manage them in easy and safe way.

At the same time, we want the development of robots to be a simple and pleasant work, rather than a constant fight with the removal of errors. That is why in Digital Teammates we have prepared several tools and standards, that let us combine ease of working on robots (and thus shortening Time-To-Market) while maintaining a high level of quality and low vulnerability to errors.

Some of the main elements included in our solution for robot manufacturing process automation:

  • Standarization of the robot development process

Robots coming out of our factory are always characterized by certain common features regardless of which systems and in which environments they work on. This set of rules applies to both the manufacturing process (based on the best programming practices) and the construction itself (a set of rules that must be obeyed by all newly created robots). 

  • Creation of robots’ working environments

A very important factor, that can easily reduce the risk of possible errors is the standardization of robots’ working environments and the automatization of the process of preparing robots’ workstations. Thanks to this approach and dedicated tools, we are able to build virtual “robots’ desks” quickly significantly shortening Time-To-Market for our Clients.

  • Automatic tests, robots installation and configuration process

Our robots are tested automatically, and more specifically, are tested by other robots whose only purpose is to detect errors as soon as possible on test environments.

Fast and efficient installation of new robots also requires automation. Our robots use an integrated configuration management system, which helps minimizing risk of errors and  allows changes in start-up parameters without the need of installing new versions of robots.

  • Robots monitoring

All operations performed by robots are logged (on several levels) and stored in a dedicated log repository. The structure of these logs allows us to generate reports of both technical and business nature. Our clients have access to this data online and are able to monitor how do their virtual employees perform.

More details about mentioned tools and standards in my upcoming blog articles.

Bartosz Pietras
Head of IT