Last week, guests in the Sault College Robotics Lab were bowled-over by a demonstration of an exciting collaborative applied research project between Sault College and Soo Mill.
The overall goal of the project was to develop and test a robotic lumber sorting and placing application in Sault College’s Robotics Lab, which would simulate how the automated process would integrate with and function within Soo Mill’s existing truss plant on Sackville Road in Sault Ste. Marie.
Guests watched as the project’s vision came to fruition and the ABB industrial robot interpreted the product data and simulated the picking and placing of the various lumber components onto wooden pallets in accordance with the required process using a specialized gripper.
The proof of concept project demonstrates one potential solution for Soo Mill to reduce the handling of lumber and increase throughput and efficiency and was made possible through funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and support from the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE).
“This project has been a tremendous opportunity for our student researchers, Eero Tenhumaki and Jasper Becking, to apply and enhance their knowledge of process automation in a real application,” says John Coccimiglio, manager of applied research and innovation at Sault College. “The research team, led by Sault College faculty Donovan Kennedy, did an excellent job of developing and simulating a robotic solution using the College’s computer-based Robot Studio software and then tested it on the large industrial robot in the lab.“
For Soo Mill, this project would help to transform its operations and increase output associated with this process.
“We are very fortunate to be able to access such expertise as we continue to see coming out of Sault College. Without their programs and dedication to working with small business, companies like ours would have little ability to affordably explore new ways of doing business in a competitive market. Partnerships like the one we just had with Sault College allows us to keep our business competitive while continuing to provide jobs in the Soo. Thanks so much to John and his team,” said Randy Aikens, Soo Mill & Lumber.
Through its participation in collaborative applied research projects, Sault College can help local and regional enterprises adapt new technologies and develop new and improved products and processes that enable them to be competitive in today’s global marketplace.
These projects provide our students, faculty and staff the opportunity to participate in real-world research projects that address and solve real challenges and give our students a strong market advantage, while enhancing the development of our faculty and staff members.