The Inexpensive Delco Electronics Assembly (IDEA) Cell is a modular, reconfigurable platform designed to perform a variety of final assembly manufacturing operations. This paper describes the software architecture of the IDEA Cell, which was designed to meet several goals. First, it provides a PC-based, Open Modular Architecture Controller (OMAC)-compliant environment. Second, it promotes software reuse by providing components that standardize various aspects of machine control, such as machine step execution, event logging and error handling. Third, the architecture leverages the hardware independence provided by a node-based workcell model and programming interface. Other goals include performance, measured in terms of cycle time and machine throughput, as well as dependability and maintainability.
The software architecture is described in detail, followed by a case study on the design of a real application: the Dispense IDEA Cell. The case study helps to clarify the architecture and illustrate the design process. Additionally, the details of the Dispense IDEA Cell design provide a sharp contrast to the current state of the art, which is typified by the use of proprietary, vendor-specific components and interfaces. The paper concludes with a summary and discussion of future work.