Scottish cobot hub established to showcase benefits of automation

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Smart Hub Lanarkshire is working to provide learning opportunities for students and accelerate the adoption of collaborative robots (cobots) in Scotland, connecting educational institutions with local and national manufacturers.

Smart Hub Lanarkshire is a partnership between New College Lanarkshire, Lanarkshire Council and the University of Strathclyde that democratises access to automation by providing free-of-charge access to the latest robotic technologies and expertise.

Set up through the Scottish Enterprise Advanced Manufacturing Challenge Fund, it offers a space where local employers can familiarise themselves with the technology, access technical training and receive specific advice on how to best adopt automation within production lines.

The hub initially purchased three UR5e cobots from Danish robot manufacturer Universal Robots, selecting the system for its flexibility, intuitiveness and ease-of use. It has since secured further funding for a UR10e, which the hub will make available for companies to trial on their own site, alongside a technical consultant who advises how to best incorporate it into the business’s operations.

Students from New College Lanarkshire and the University of Strathclyde will learn how to operate three cobots, while local businesses can take a two-week loan of the UR10e to trial at their own sites

Barry Skea, head of Lanarkshire Institute of Science and Technology, said: “As soon as Universal Robots demonstrated the cobots we knew we wanted to put them in the hands of our students.

“The support we’ve received from Universal Robots and its partner SP Elements has been outstanding and we really appreciate the access to online learning materials through the UR Academy. The cobots are transformational as we look to upskill and grow the valued manufacturing workforce here in Scotland.”

This year, five companies will benefit from a two-week loan of the cobot, supported with hands-on training to optimise its use.

Caroline Brown, enterprise development officer, North Lanarkshire Council, added: “Universal Robots’ technology is a vital element of our industry 4.0 strategy that gives Lanarkshire businesses easy access to new technologies that can drive their business forward. We’re proud to be working in partnership to advance Scotland’s manufacturing capabilities by acting as the interface between suppliers, educators and industry.”

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