Principal investigator: Gregory Foy

University: York College of Pennsylvania

Industry partner: MRG Laboratories

MRG Labs develops and manufactures analytical instrumentation and consumables for machinery lubricant analysis. MRG holds several patents and manufactures the Grease Thief Analyzer, using engineered plastic consumables to measure changing characteristics of lubricants. Data from this analysis allows asset owners to reduce downtime, extend machinery life, and reduce maintenance costs. These analyzers are manufactured in York, PA, and sold to laboratories worldwide. MRG supplies consumables to these laboratories as a recurring revenue source. Industry growth is limited by the manual nature of these tests, slowing the analysis process and limiting economies of scale. Using chemistry and engineering interns, MRG is using programmable cobots to automate repetitive tasks. A goal would be to create a more robust autonomous analysis system that could be offered to other laboratories to reduce costs, improve repeatability, and reduce testing bottlenecks of existing manual processes. MRG proposes leasing an advanced cobot system for a York College of Pennsylvania research team and provide access to existing lab facilities to design and build the autonomous system that will speed up and lower the costs of performing these tests in the production environment. In addition to addressing the testing of lubricants, the modular systems could be adapted to new tests quickly, creating further applicability to other similarly constrained testing challenges faced in the Commonwealth, including emerging tests for COVID-19, hemp crop assays, and environmental testing.

 MRG Labs manually assembles individual components to create sampling kits. This is time consuming and costly, and variations in manual assembly can potentially cause differences in testing results for users. A modular robot solution could automate testing during the day, and be reconfigured to assemble sample testing kits at night, enhancing the value of the robotics for multi-function modular capability, and improving kit manufacturing and testing uniformity