Sawyer, the next-generation smart collaborative robot designed by US company Rethink Robotics, has joined the Baxter robot at Flinders at Tonsley.
The compact 19kg robot with accurate, sensor-managed 1260mm arm, was purchased by the University and Lonsdale advanced manufacturer Redarc Electronics as one of the first education models to arrive in Australia.
The robots are located at Flinders robotics and automation lab at Tonsley and will be used as a demonstration and training model for both students and SA industries.
Rethink Robotics is a world-leading technology company founded by Flinders University graduate Professor Rodney Brooks.
The collaborative robots are designed to be programmed to work safely next to people in factories without the need for barriers or metal cages. Sawyer’s main market will be in China and other countries with high labour demands and now shortages of some production workers.
Here in Australia its capabilities provide valuable insights for manufacturing industries to investigate new technologies and innovation, says Redarc managing director and CEO Anthony Kittel.
Mr Kittel says community alliances, including sponsorships and strategic projects with Adelaide’s tertiary sector, are vital to promote innovation in local business.
“Strategic cooperation between industry and universities will provide SA with a talent pool of scientists, engineers and workers with expertise in manufacturing disciplines to adopt emerging technologies and support innovation in a competitive marketplace,” Mr Kittel says.
“Our future success relies on leveraging talent from our universities, and Sawyer and the older robots provide important resources for research, learning and innovation.”
Mr Kittel says Redarc staff will gain valuable insights into ‘smarter’ Sawyer robotic technology to assess continuous improvement opportunities for business efficiencies.
“Manufacturing is not dead in South Australia,” says Mr Kittel, who is part of the SA Training and Skills Commission, the SA Vice-President and Branch Councillor of Australian Industry Group and a member of the Flinders University Engineering External Advisory Committee.
“As an advanced manufacturer, we invest significant sales revenue back into research and development and staff training to drive growth and reach new customers with high-quality products and new capability.”
Professor John Roddick, Dean of the School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics at Flinders at Tonsley, says industry engagement is vital for graduates.
“These robots are a real fillip to the range of new resources, laboratory infrastructure and industry placements which help to produce work-ready graduates,” Professor Roddick says.
“Our students thrive on their hands-on exposure to real-world problem solving and work experiences.”
Among them are Flinders graduates James Albrechtsen and Jacob Brackenridge, previous winners of the Engineers Australia Medal, who currently work at Redarc.
Redarc offers a number of placements every year to engineering students from SA’s universities. The southern Adelaide company, which has more than 140 employees, hosted five Flinders students on six-month placements last year and three more are working on student-based projects this year.
Sitansu Sekhar, who is studying a Bachelor of Mechanical and Master of Biomedical Engineering, is one of the latest work placements at Redarc – along with Ben Kirss and Clayton Tucker (Bachelor of Engineering-Mechanical).