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Danish robots to ensure more skilled workers in the US

At RAMTEC in Ohio, students train with friendly robots from Universal Robots. The school is working to fill the expected gap of two million skilled workers in the United States in 2020. At home, UR supports children and young people taking “robot classes”.
Ritch Ramey (left) is coordinator of robot training at RAMTEC in Ohio and a big fan of the new “cobots” from Danish manufacturer Universal Robots, because they are so easy for students to work with. Photo: RAMTEC.

Publiceret: 08.03.2017
Af Karen Witt Olsen mail

At the Robotics and Advanced Manufacturing Technology Education Collaboration (RAMTEC) in Marion, Ohio, students prepare for a future in American industry together with robots from Danish manufacturer Universal Robots (UR).

The UR robots are a new generation of robots known as ‘collaborative robots’ (cobots).

Unlike classic industry robots, which are often bolted in a cage, students can work closely with the new cooperating robots and easily move them around.

Ritch Ramey, who is RAMTEC’s coordinator for robot training, explains that the school has bought cobots from UR partly because cobots are easy to work with and partly to keep up with current developments in the American production industry.

“We need to make sure that when students leave us, they’re prepared to use the technology that the industry demands,” he says.

Gap of two million skilled workers

RAMTEC is the largest robot centre in the United States. It was founded in 2012 and is a cooperation between several educational institutions, job centres and Ohio State University.

The school inspires, teaches and provides skills enhancement for students age 13 years and older in the use of robot equipment and CNC machines and aims to help overcome the pressing lack of skilled workers in the US.

“Right now, there are 60,000 unfilled positions in the industry in Ohio alone,” says Ritch Ramsey.

He fears that even more companies will leave the US if that “gap” is not closed.

While the Economic Council of the Labour Movement (ECLM) estimates that the Danish iron and metal industry will lack approx. 30,000 skilled workers in 2025, the US will be lacking two million skilled workers already in 2020.

“We need to train both young people and unskilled workers, e.g. in coding and operating robots, while also helping companies to introduce more robots that can take over the most monotonous and repetitive tasks,” he says.

See also: DKK 196 mio. speeds up digitalisation of Danish manufacturing

Learn to do it yourself

At RAMTEC, high school student Canyon Gamble is enthusiastic about how easy it is to work with UR’s robots. He now dreams of a career in the industry working with automatisation and has his first plan ready.

“I think it would be cool if I could invent a production line where a robot did one thing and passed it on to the next robot. I just worked on getting two Universal Robots to interact to see how it could work,” he explains.

Robot instructor Clay Hammock is particularly satisfied that he is able to ask students to write a script program themselves and get the robots to do something clever.

“Everything the students need can be found online, but they have to figure out how to download what is required themselves, and those are also skills they’ll need out in the real world,” he says.

See also: New director to take robot comet to new heights

Robot classes for everyone

In order to make robots accessible for as many people as possible, Universal Robots launched its online Universal Robot Academy in January 2017. Via a computer, anyone can now learn to operate a robot in just 87 minutes.

As a robot student, you must go through six modules, of which the longest - programming - is 24 minutes long. The UR Academy is free to attend, teaching is available in six languages, includes simulators and is available to all.

“I want to make robots easily accessible for small and medium-sized businesses, which make up the majority around the world. Moreover, it is my ambition to lower ‘robot analphabetism’ by increasing everyone’s knowledge of robots,” explains Esben Østergaard, founder of Universal Robots.

Back home in Denmark, he donated the DKK 35,000 that came with winning the FSR Marsh Business Award 2016 last year to the Technology School in Odense. Among other things, the school organises afternoon and evening courses where children and youth can take “robot classes” already from the age of 10.

“It is so commendable that the teachers have voluntarily started this space for learning and gaining experience with robot technology,” says Esben Østergaard regarding the decision to send the winner cheque to the Technology School.

In 2016, Universal Robots also supported Denmark’s first robot talent team for young people aged 15-20 with DKK 500,000 so they could participate in the First Robotics Championship in the United States.

Similarly, the robot manufacturer in Odense has actively joined the collaboration with the cluster organisation Odense Robotics and a number of Funen’s educational institutions to found a Robot Academy that will contribute to training and upskilling both skilled and unskilled workers to prepare them for jobs in the field of robotics.

Studies carried out by Odense Robotics show that Funen’s robot and automatisation companies expect to require 1,000 more employees in 2018 compared to 2015.

FACTS
Universal Robots
Founded in 2005 in Odense, where the headquarters are still located
Approx. 350 employees globally
Approx. 2000 distributors in around 50 countries
Turnover of DKK 418 million in 2015
Part of the global Teradyne group

We need to make sure that when students leave us, they’re prepared to use the technology that the industry demands.
RITCH RAMEY, COORDINATOR FOR ROBOT TRAINING AT RAMTEC
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PUBLISHED: 3/8/2017 LAST MODIFIED: 3/8/2017