Media Release by University of Wollongong
In September 2020 during the COVID pandemic, the University of Wollongong (UOW) opened a new industry hub at its Shoalhaven campus in Nowra which features Industry 4.0 technology. The new Industry 4.0 hub includes a working demonstration unit of the Demmeler 3D table system supplied by Leussink Engineering with a cobot (collaborative robot).
The Hub has several goals:
- Support local and regional industry (for example SMEs in manufacturing, agribusiness, defence industry) with the awareness and adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies
- Engage with schools and community to educate around Industry 4.0 and generally promote interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)
- Strengthen connections between UOW researchers and local industry.
The innovative Hub showcases numerous Industry 4.0 Technologies, including cobots, virtual and augmented reality (VR & AR), as well as additive manufacturing (3D printing).
“The equipment is used to demonstrate and showcase resources to industry partners looking to adopt new technologies. Equipment can also be accessed and used by students and the community through ‘makerspace’ activities,” said Evan Brown, Research Engineer, UOW Industry 4.0 hub.
“Once the COVID lockdown period ended last year we had pent-up demand for people wanting to visit the Hub which is great.
“HMAS Albatross, the largest operational Naval establishment and the Navy’s only Air Station is based in Nowra with many supporting businesses, so there are plenty of locals who want to see the Industry 4.0 technologies in action. It allows people to see how new technology could improve their business, and how they can adopt the latest equipment,” added Brown.
Evan and his team worked closely with Leussink to set up two Demmeler tables to mount the collaborative robot welding system.
Cobots are designed to operate close to humans as they perform their tasks, and unlike fully-fledged robots, they are an affordable solution to automate processes to support employees.
In the UOW Industry 4.0 Hub, the cobot is set up on a Demmeler table system to undertake welding tasks. The Demmeler system plays a dual role. It holds the cobot firmly and accurately in place, and it also holds the workpiece securely and precisely while the welding is taking place.
“The two systems demonstrate great synergies and visitors can see how this system will work in their business,” said Brown.
Unlike traditional industrial robots, cobots are responsive to human touch and the environment around them, and therefore do not need to work behind large safety screens because they pose little risk of accidents occurring. Humans provide the direction to the cobot, and the cobot provides the precision steering and control.
“One of the key advantages which we can demonstrate is how quickly it can be set-up and programmed for just a few welds, before moving on to the next. Operators do not have to be experts in computer programming or welding to be able to operate the Demmeler cobot system,” said Brown.
The Demmeler welding and fabrication system, distributed exclusively in Australia by Leussink Engineering, is the ideal partner product for a cobot.
The main reason Demmeler tables and cobot systems were chosen for the Hub was to meet the objective to support local and regional industry (manufacturing, agribusiness, defence industry) with the awareness and adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies.
As a consequence, the Business Development Manager and acting lead of the Industry 4.0 Hub works closely with groups like the Shoalhaven Business Chamber and local industry as well as attends industry events to spread the word with local businesses and those further afield.
The Demmeler 3D workbench and welding table is a versatile jig and fixturing system for all types of welding and fabrication work. A cobot can be anchored and fixed to a Demmeler table system to ensure accuracy and versatility. The cobot can return to the same position every single time.
Working in partnership with robotic experts, Leussink develops cobot-based systems for clients in a range of industries, enabling them to meet many different requirements.