Multi-functional cell for training in robotics and automation

27 August 2019

Wood Automation & Control has designed and built a state-of-the-art robotic training cell at Make UK’s Technology Hub in Birmingham.

The cell will be used by around 400 apprentices and other engineers joining the Make UK training courses this year.  It incorporates KUKA, FANUC and ABB robots, and a fundamental part of its configuration is its secure wireless communications and data capture system that enables the entire suite of control systems and robotics to operate and talk to each other. Wood Automation & Control worked in collaboration with SMC UK to achieve this high level of functionality in such a demanding environment.

At the heart of this system is SMC’s wireless EX600-W Fieldbus system for serial I/O transmission. Capable of operating over a radius of up to 10m it can control all of the individual systems within the training cell. Remote monitoring allows tutors and students to check functionality or trouble-shoot whilst away from the physical training cell. 

The cell also features a dual control system to allow students to become familiar with both Siemens and Rockwell controls and HMI architectures. A touchscreen HMI enables instructors to select fault conditions and disable components within the cell to create realistic system failures for subsequent identification and rectification by the apprentices. A range of pneumatically operated gripper systems, with interchangeable gripper fingers, provides the flexibility for the robots to handle and manipulate different component parts.

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