Robots in Industry – An Educational Perspective

There is no doubt whatsoever that as each week passes, an ever increasing number of robots are being deployed in industries throughout Australia. There is also no doubt that this has a number of ramifications which must be addressed, not the least of which is the educational response.

It used to be that robots were installed in heavy industry to carry out repetitive tasks that involved heavy lifting or handling dangerous goods. This would involve the robots being placed within safety cages or behind safety barriers. Whilst this is still the case in many instances, there is a growing realisation that robots can now be installed in a vast number of SMEs to enable them to be more productive and competitive. This is due largely to the introduction of Collaborative Robots that do not require costly safety barriers and which can work alongside people carrying out tasks that assist them to become more productive.

The Baxter Manufacturing Robot is a world leader insofar as Collaborative Robots are concerned. Designed by Adelaide born roboticist and robotics entrepreneur Rodney Brooks, the Baxter Manufacturing Robot is enabling small to medium sized enterprises to install a versatile robot to carry out a variety of repetitive tasks. Launched in Australia at the beginning of 2014, the Baxter Robot is quickly becoming sought after by companies of all types keen to deploy this low-cost and reliable piece of equipment.

All well and good. How are Educational Institutions responding to the ever increasing presence of robots in industry?

A number of TAFE colleges have approached Training Systems Australia in regard to purchasing and installing a Baxter Manufacturing Robot within their organisations so that students can start to understand how the integration of such robots will affect the industry of tomorrow. In fact the first Baxter Manufacturing Robot in an Australian TAFE institute is about to be installed in August 2014.

The benefits of installing a Baxter Manufacturing Robot in TAFE include:
- Learning about robots in industry without the need for safety cages being installed.
- Using robots within Advanced Manufacturing programs.
- Determining various uses for robots in industry.
- Robot maintenance programs for technicians.
- Automation & control courses enhanced by safe industrial robots.

Integrating a Baxter Manufacturing Robot into TAFE courses makes a great deal of sense as it is estimated that within fifteen years, every manufacturer will rely on some form of robot within their operation. Australia, like the rest of the advanced nations, is looking at ways in which manufacturing can be both viable and competitive and a great deal of effort is being made to reverse the trend of off-shoring to ensure that the future of the Australian economy is robust and multifaceted.

Industry in Australia will need to have skilled people who can both work with robots and maintain them. The Baxter Manufacturing Robot is an ideal addition to those TAFE institutes who realise the need to teach the skills that industry needs in a future in which robots will play an ever-increasing role.

Training Systems Australia recognises that the needs of industry are changing and that Industrial Automation is a vital to making industry competitive in a global market. To meet this need, we supply world-leading training equipment designed to provide students with the skills and knowledge they need for careers in industry.

The Lucas Nülle Industrial Mechatronics System (IMS) is ideal for training in all aspects of industrial automation. It can also include a complete Industrial Process Automation system which emulates sequences in a complex industrial-type production line as they are accomplished in practice. Actuators and sensors used are exclusively types that are typically used in industry. Control of the installation is also achieved by means of typical industrial PLC systems with Profibus and decentralised peripherals.
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Installations can also be expanded using other modern, industrial communications systems. The system encourages learning of skills and team work and students can even be left to learn the basics of mastering modern mechatronics systems on their own. Each sub-system is designed so that simple operations and sequences are learned first and expanded upon step by step so that students can master the knowledge and skills necessary to write complex automation control programs. The IMS can also include Automatic Bottling equipment, CNC machines and of course Robots.

The IMS is supplied with courseware and exercises designed to test a student’s understanding thereby ensuring that the theory being learnt can be put into immediate practice.

For more information please contact Training Systems Australia on +61 03 9557 7993.