Students at The University of Plymouth are now getting hands-on experience of flexible automation, following the installation of four high-tech Mitsubishi robots by Barr and Paatz from nearby Totnes.
The Mitsubishi RV-2AJ five-axis robots are designed to be flexible and adaptable to a great many tasks in manufacturing industry. They are also used in fields such as research labs, medical facilities and CD pressing plants. Their 64-bit controller makes them highly intelligent and their poweful servo motors enable them to work with payloads of up to 2kg.
As well as teaching duties, the robots are favourites for undergraduate project work and post-graduate research. The students and their lecturers are finding new and challenging uses for the robots every day.
Plymouth was the first university in the UK to offer a degree course in Robotics and Automation, and the new robots are helping keep it at the forefront of the discipline. In order to keep the course relevant to current and future engineering practises, the University maintains close contacts with industry and monitors the rapidly developing thinking of the best practitioners.
The new robots replace older units that were based on obsolete technology. The RV-2AJs are compact units, typically used in labs, electronics production and small-scale assembly, and they are also suitable for use as teaching and training units. Significantly they share the same controller as larger Mitsubishi articulated-arm robots, so graduates should be fully conversant with the large-scale units they may meet once they begin their careers.
Barr and Paatz, as well as employing a number of Plymouth graduates, has installed robot and automation systems for some of the most well known manufacturers in Britain. The university installation has to be to full industrial specification beacuse it is used for numerous courses including those for dedicated BSc and MSc robotics qualifications. This year about 75 students will use the robots, with the number growing year-on-year.