June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
14.49.1 - 14.49.15
A Mechatronics (and Material Handling Systems) Course – Classroom Topics, Laboratory Experiments, and Project
Abstract The material handling and logistics industry encompasses the movement, control, and storage of products in both manufacturing and distribution environments. The mechatronics field, which integrates concepts from traditional engineering disciplines, has been extensively applied within material handling systems to achieve precise product movement. The presentation of mechatronic system concepts, within a material handling framework, allows practical classroom exercises, laboratory experiments, and design projects. In this paper, the multi-disciplinary mechatronics (and material handling systems) course will be presented. The classroom materials introduce sensors, actuators, control theory, human factors, electric power, electronics, electric motor, and systems integration as encountered in typical manufacturing scenarios. Further, students learn and practice leadership, team building, collaborative learning, and project management skills to help accomplish the laboratory and project activities. A series of laboratory assignments have been developed for students to gain hands-on experience with electronics, programmable logic controllers, industrial robots, conveyors, instrumentation, and data acquisition. The initial exercises establish a basis to program and network multiple PLCs, command the movement of a robotic arm, and then integrate these elements into a smart conveyor system under automated control for product distribution. The remaining laboratory activities focus on electronic circuits, and vibration experiments with accompanying data acquisition and theoretical analysis. Lastly, a design project offers an open-ended multi-faceted opportunity to apply a robotic arm, conveyors, bar code reader, color sensor, and networked PLCs to accomplish the tasks of identification, sorting, and conveyor transport to fulfill product orders.
1. Introduction Modern industrial systems and components typically feature various sensors, actuators, and controllers integrated into complex configurations that incorporate skills from various engineering disciplines. To design and service this equipment, global companies often use engineering teams familiar with mechatronic system technologies (refer to Figure 1). Some of the key technical skills include mechanical, electrical, computer, and industrial engineering as well as control systems, computer simulation, robotics, and human factors. Although the term “mechatronics” may be widely applied to engineering systems, it certainly describes material handling processes which encompass the controlled movement of items through a define sequence of events. For example, different types of conveyor and robotic elements may be applied to transport materials, assemble components, and then move the finished goods within a manufacturing facility. Due to the prevalence of material handling systems and accompanying mechatronics expertise requirements, this industry segment may be emulated in a laboratory setting to offer students real world challenges. A fundamental understanding of various system components and their integration into a functional process is an important objective for laboratory accomplishments.
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