Robotics centre reflects new era for UK industry

ABB Robotics has invested more than £250,000 to upgrade its training facility at Auriga House in Milton Keynes to prepare UK manufacturers for the factory of the future.

Partly motivated by a demand for training on the latest advances in robot technology, the training centre now features the latest generation of robotics and controllers helping to drive the ‘smart factory’ age.

Preparing the UK for the emerging digital landscape is reportedly a key priority for ABB Robotics - image courtesy of ABB.
Preparing the UK for the emerging digital landscape is reportedly a key priority for ABB Robotics – image courtesy of ABB.

Preparing the UK for the emerging digital landscape is reportedly a key priority for ABB Robotics, with the company strongly believing in the need to equip workers with the skills needed for an automated future. These skills are becoming ever more important if the UK is to continue to effectively compete on a global scale.

Smart factories require employees who are fully trained to programme, operate and evaluate the performance of the advanced technologies in order to use them to their full potential.

Upgrades to the ABB Robotics training centre include a number of ABB IRB 1200 units which were selected as being the optimum payload and range for use in the new cells. These cells have also been refurbished with new ABB guarding in order to reflect the typical industrial situations which exist in factories with robot technology. At the same time, this guarding provides the correct level of interaction needed to teach students adequately.

A range of other robot models are available to train with, enabling students to select a robot that most closely matches their own installations. The new robot controllers provide more capacity for students to be trained to use MultiMove and SoftMove. These controllers, together with the MultiMove and SoftMove programming software packages, allow UK manufacturers to improve safety and robot performance.

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The upgrades also reflect ABB Robotics’ ongoing drive to reduce the barriers to adoption of robot technology. The additions to the training centre aim to provide a fully comprehensive training experience so that all students are confident of their abilities on course completion and ready to integrate robot technology on their own shop floors.

In addition, the training courses available have been expanded with the ‘integrator’ course showing students how to set up and install a robot ‘out of the box’, and a YuMi course which covers the key elements of installing the collaborative robot into a production cell within the shortest possible time.

Launched in the UK in early 2016, YuMi is able to work side-by-side with humans safely with no need for barriers, cages or zones. The collaborative robot is able to assist in small parts assembly tasks, while employees can either work with YuMi or apply their production skills to another part of the process.

General industry sales and marketing manager, Mike Wilson explained: “After a long period of lagging behind the rest of the world, the UK is finally starting to see a growth in the take-up of robotic automation, as an increasing number of businesses start to recognise their competitive potential.

“Our aim is to expand on this growth by continually striving to tackle the barriers to adoption such as skills and training to ensure that every business that could benefit from a robot is able to do so.”