‘Cobot’ co-workers: Rose State College to offer course on robotic technologyPublished: Thursday, August 29, 2019 By: Daisy Creager Source: The Journal Record
Rose State College is elevating the discussion about automation in the manufacturing industry through forums and a collaborative robotics training course to help fill a need highlighted by the Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance.
A partner of the alliance, the college is starting a dialogue about what is seen as a necessary step to fulfill future employment needs and advance the industry, said Tamara Pratt, Rose State vice president for external affairs.
“We know from the data (that) collaborative robots are not widely used in Oklahoma. We’ve been a slow adopter of that automation type,” Pratt said. “It’s a great opportunity for us just to get in front of people and start saying ‘hey, are you aware of this technology you could be utilizing in your process?’”
The two-day, 16-hour robotics training course will premiere in October. Ahead of the class, the college organized a forum to raise awareness for robotic technology and its uses in manufacturing.
Tyler Helps, technical program manager with electric vehicle battery repair company Spiers New Technologies, and Brad Couser, an operations manager with oil and gas equipment manufacturer Kimray, spoke about the process and lessons learned from automating processes in their companies with ‘cobots,’ or collaborative robots.
A “starting point” for leveraging tools to implement automation, cobots are more versatile in their ability to interact with humans than industrial ones, taking up less space and adjusting work speed when humans are nearby to reduce the chances of causing an injury, Helps said.
Helps discussed SNT’s approach to automating an assembly line process, how the company addressed issues that arose during the processes and ways they improved the cobot’s efficiency once it was running.
He warned against “automating the wrong things,” saying to scrutinize established processes before incorporating cobots. SNT, for example, found that changing the method of stacking Prius battery modules improved efficiency.
“Don’t look at what your problems are and throw robots at them,” Helps said. “Solve the real issues, solve the root of the problem.”
Couser addressed negative attention automation has received and the lag of Oklahoma’s manufacturing industry in embracing the process.
The use of robots is often seen as an effort to lower costs and eliminate jobs, but can be used, instead, to invest more in existing employees and improve their sense of accomplishment at work, he said.
“In my opinion, (automation is) a maturing process for manufacturing. I don’t think automation is going to be optional in the future. It’s not easy, it is hard work … It’ll lead to a better business, but it’s all about impacting the lives of those people that work for us and our