SOUTHFIELD–Lawrence Technological University cut the ribbon Wednesday on a new robotics and factory automation laboratory that the companies that helped create it say is unique anywhere in the United States.
“What you’re about to see behind that door is state of the art technology: world class control architecture, controller based safety, mechatronics, and the list goes on and on,” said Tim Mulcahy, recently retired engineering manager for the Michigan region of Madison Heights-based McNaughton-McKay Electric Co.
And Larry Smentowski, global automotive director of Rockwell Automation, said: “This lab is a beacon for your educational students and a vehicle for your students and the larger community to understand what the future will be like…This is something no other university, no other campus, has done.”
Smentowski and Mulcahy, an LTU graduate, were speaking of the Rockwell Automation/McNaughton-McKay Electric Co. I4.0 Robotics and Industrial Automation Laboratory. LTU and its industry partners invested a million dollars in the Rockwell Automation/McNaughton-McKay Electric Co. I4.0 Robotics and Industrial Automation Laboratory.
Added Michael Brennan: “I see LTU as an important educational institution. This lab has all the latest trends in industry. This will help us create future members of our automation community.”
LTU President Tarek Sobh praised “the amazing work that Rockwell and McNaughton-McKay did with our staff.” And Nabil Grace, dean of the LTU College of Engineering, said the new lab is all about “our students having the latest, state-of-the-art equipment in the industry.”
Inside a steel safety cage, Kuka industrial robots grab items and place them in boxes that are on moving “pucks,” which move around an automated assembly line to the next station for more alterations. Rockwell software and McNaughton McKay’s programmable logic controllers can be used to simulate warehouse packing operations and assembly lines. Also in the lab is machine vision and inspection technology from Oak Park-based Detect-It and Rochester-based Deepview.
Smentowski said the lab was designed with strict safety protocols while still allowing students to work on actual factory robots. The lab also features Rockwell virtual reality software, Emulate 3D. This allows students to test their manufacturing simulations before they are put into practice in the actual factory.