Vincennes University is in the process of building a pipeline of talent to work alongside robots, instead of being replaced by the technology. The university is partnering with Carmel-based Telamon Corp. to place 11 cobots at the school’s campus in Jasper. The systems are intended for direct human interaction in a shared space, acting as “an extra set of hands,” according to VU.
In an interview on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick, VU President Chuck Johnson explained the value cobots can bring in support of advanced manufacturing.
“Frees humans up to do the things that are more analytical review, some of the quality control types of things, as well as do troubleshooting and things like that,” said Johnson. “An extension of a human worker more so than a replacement.”
VU says the investment brings advanced technology and training to Dubois County to support the manufacturing employers throughout the area.
Unlike large robotics that are used in manufacturing plants, such as automakers, cobots are smaller, able to be moved, and easier to reprogram to perform different tasks.
“Cobots come in all different stripes and sorts and they can be adaptive,” said Johnson. “You can move them around to be have an application on this line, you can move over here and set them up to work in a different way.”
The school says the cobots lab, located in the Center for Technology, Innovation, and Manufacturing, will allow students to learn about the latest technology in a variety of fields, including manufacturing, medical, and aviation. It will also help are employers by hosting demonstrations and workshops on cobot technologies and applications.
“A very big part of our partnership in Jasper is working with manufacturing employers. We work with them on a lot of things with regard to automation and industrial maintenance programming. We do work based learning programs,” said Johnson. “It’s an opportunity to give our students and our employers a chance to try these new technologies to explore how they may be able to deploy them into their plants and facilities.”
VU says the lab is part of an $8 million grant funded by Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc., to bolster the 21st century workforce.