The UR Academy Learning Path

Factory automation is helping manufacturers around the world solve labor, quality, productivity and utilization challenges every day

Robotic automation is being implemented at a record pace, and cobot automation is growing exponentially.  The International Federation of Robotics reports steady 12% growth in the global installed base of robots, and a quick glance at robot density by country confirms this trend is likely to continue.

And who is designing, engineering, programming and installing all this new automation?  Manufacturing, production, automation, process and industrial engineers are in the lead, and the growth in the industry is attracting new talent every day.  In the US alone, the Bureau of Labor Statistics is projecting a 12% growth in Industrial Engineering (including mechanical engineers) through 2032.

So, a heavy demand for robot automation coupled with limited supply of skilled and experienced engineering resources and a growing influx of new engineers means many readers will soon be looking at their very first automation project.  You may be wondering how to get started, what decisions must be reached to contain costs, compress the project schedule and reduce the overall project risk.  You may be unsure exactly where to start your company’s automation journey, selecting the best project to match existing skills, resources and business requirements.

Since the company was founded, Universal Robots has led the industry in innovative easy-to-deploy products, and unique education and training programs for engineers, developers and end-users alike.  Coupled with the UR+ Ecosystem of third party peripherals, accessories and solutions, UR and and UR partners are routinely delivering Rapid Deployment Robotics into manufacturing in just weeks, not months.

Delivering product knowledge and how-to is one thing, but delivering application knowledge goes well beyond traditional product training and is far more demanding!   And that’s where the newest online education tool from UR comes in:  The Learning Path.  With a focus on the intricacies and best practices within an application, the Learning Path jump starts each project with a step-by-step experienced based approach that helps even the greenest project engineer make real decisions that help ensure success.

The first Learning Path module is Palletizing, available in Early Access format on the UR web site.  It is organized the same way a typical project would be structured, with modules for Planning, Deployment and Operation.  Learning Path content is multi-media, including how-to videos, case studies, application evaluation tools, and e-learning.  This multi-channel approach delivers the expertise and knowledge you might expect from an industry expert.  It’s online, and it’s free.  This allows users to learn at their own pace in an easy and intuitive way.

How deep does the Learning Path go into application details?  There are many other application guides available in the market, but most just gloss over the real details needed to really evaluate an application.  Let’s dig into just the first stage in the Palletizing Learning Path:  Planning.

With a focus on the intricacies and best practices within an application, the Learning Path jump starts each project with a step-by-step experienced based approach that helps even the greenest project engineer make real decisions that help ensure success.

Documenting your existing process

a.      Palletizing Evaluation Tool defines the key attributes of an application – either new or retrofit.  The right-hand column gives quick feedback on complexity.  Most answers are offered in a pre-set range for selection by the user, and a notes section summarizes areas of concern and recommendations for deployment.

b.      Customer Case – Part 1:  Requirements and plant layout.  This is a video featuring one of the global application engineers walking through various application issues:

UR20 Palletizer by Columbia Okura at Bob's Red Mill, USA
UR20 Palletizer by Columbia Okura at Bob's Red Mill, USA

Cell layout and reachability test

a.      Cell Layout Best Practices is a video showing examples of various layout configurations and issues to be aware of

b.      The Theory of the Reachability Test is a 10-point checklist and instructions to ensure all reachability issues are resolved.

c.      Customer Case:  Cell Layout and Reachability Test – The global application engineer takes you through the process of designing a cell layout in a 3D simulation tool and performs reachability tests for different products, pallets and positions.

Gripper Selection and Test

The first of 3 modules includes over an hour and a half of detailed video training, 2 dedicated palletizing evaluation tools, recommendations for simulation software, a selection of UR+ grippers and an interactive global map to help users find a systems integrator or distributor partner.  The Learning Path is thorough, deep and easy to use – a great tool to help someone new to automation fast track their projects.

It's also important to note that The Learning Path is a great tool even if you are planning to use a systems integrator.  Thinking through and capturing all the project details helps in writing a thorough specification and enables open communication with the integrator.  Resolving issues up front means less risk (and contingencies in the budget) for the project.

The Palletizing Learning Path is available in early-access format on the UR web site.  Check back as additional content is constantly being posted and updated, including additional modules for machine tending and welding.  And of course, if you have questions about palletizing or any other application, or what’s coming next on Learning Path sections or modules, please post them here:

Joe Campbell

Joe Campbell is a 40+ year veteran of the robotics and automation industry. After executive assignments in sales, marketing, operations and customer service with industry leading robot, system integrator and engineering companies, Joe recently retired as head of strategic marketing for Universal Robots North America. He is a regular speaker, lecturer and author on manufacturing labor issues, and the technology and economic benefits of robots and factory automation.

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