Robotics is set to change the nature of work in this country. While the headlines worry about job losses, there is another side to the story.
Northern Skills Group’s Andy Buckworth (pictured below) looks at why training is crucial to the new robotic era of industry.
Across a wide variety of sectors – including manufacturing, retailing and engineering – robots are being put to use in creating efficiencies and increasing quality. In fact the flourishing UK automotive industry uses 734 robots per 10,000 employees.
But companies need a new skilled workforce to make this work.
We need engineers and operators – the people who can program and train these robots to reach greater efficiencies – to lead this new future.
At Middlesbrough College’s STEM Centre we’re using the latest industrial robots to train new and existing employees for businesses across the North East and further afield.
Using Agilus robots from worldwide brand KUKA (see main picture above), our expert team is supporting learners as they get to grips with programming the machines for uses across warehousing, logistics and production lines, among others. KUKA’s precision robots can perform detailed tasks, from welding complex joints through to scientific assembly.
Using sophisticated software, learners are immersed in the possibilities these robots present, and accrue the skills to put them to work.
We start them off covering important safety information before taking them through the robot’s structure and its programming.
Training in industrial robotics is tricky – not least because most employers operate their technology around the clock, leaving little down-time for learners to get their hands on them.
And tailoring the robot to closely match each employers’ specific needs is time consuming. That’s why a dedicated training environment is necessary.
Making sure technicians and engineers can trouble-shoot quickly and effectively is also commercially important for employers.
Not only that, but their employees need to speak the right language to be able to interact with suppliers. The stakes are high when the efficiency of production lines ride on a group of robots being fully functional.
Automotive parts manufacturer ElringKlinger is just one firm to benefit from Northern Skills Group’s robotics training.
Alex Smith, automation engineer at the firm, said: “The KUKA Robotics course that the team has completed with Northern Skills Group will have multiple and long-term benefits for our supply chain.
“Robots represent a significant capital investment and are implemented in critical process areas; where speed and precision are key, or where a task proposes risks to personnel.
“The correct training throughout the organisation aids the workforce in the design of robot friendly processes, maintaining or improving robot efficiency and reducing robot downtime.
“Having staff in-house skilled in programming and operating robots is crucial in ensuring the robots’ potential is maximised by being fully utilised and as a result, you receive the biggest return on investment. “It will also ultimately lead to fewer issues caused by human error and negate the need for external support, therefore costing the company less over the lifespan of the robot.”
*Northern Skills Group, Middlesbrough College’s apprenticeship and training company trains new and existing employees for businesses across the North East using the latest industrial robots in its £20m STEM Centre.