Aug 11, 2017

Robotics revolution aimed at SMEs

Robotics revolution aimed at SMEs

A robot that can see what it’s working on and make adjustments as it goes is being hailed the way forward for SMEs (small to medium-size enterprises) in manufacturing.

The robot pictured above is being trained at Brisbane’s UAP (Urban Art Projects) to create large-scale, bespoke public art pieces that until now were impossible to produce economically.

It is part of  an $8 million design robotics research project to develop vision-enabled, agile and adaptable robots that SMEs can use easily to make high-value products that open export opportunities and create more jobs in Australia.

QUT is leading the five-year project in partnership with UAP, the newly-established Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC), RMIT and construction company Laing O’Rourke.

QUT interaction design expert Dr Jared Donovan said his team was using design principles to determine exactly how robots could best be used to improve manufacturing SMEs.

“SMEs can’t afford to employ a full-time engineer just to program a robot – that’s why we’re designing a system for UAP that is agile, adaptable and easy for technical staff to re-task day-to-day,” Dr Donovan said .

“This is a very exciting project because it will showcase to companies how using robots strategically can upskill and expand an SME’s staff while increasing the range of products it can manufacture.”

IMCRC managing director and chief executive officer David Chuter said introducing design-led robotics into Australia’s manufacturing SMEs would give those companies a competitive advantage domestically and internationally.

“Australia’s competitive advantage is in high-quality, high-value manufacturing and integrating agile, vision-enabled robots is one of several ways we believe we can boost the commercial value of the sector, creating more export and job opportunities,” Mr Chuter said.

Dr Jared Donovan with UAP founder and managing director Matt Tobin and Dr Glenda Caldwell (QUT Design), withUAP’s Bruce Blundell working in the background.