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Development Of A Low Cost Laboratory System For Teaching Automation System Integration In The Manufacturing Engineering Technology Curriculum

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Topics in Mechanical ET

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.434.1 - 9.434.8



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Paper Authors

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William Ferry

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Andrew Otieno

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session Number: 2547

Development of a Low Cost Laboratory System for Teaching Automation System Integration in the Manufacturing Engineering Technology Curriculum

William Ferry and Andrew Otieno,

Department of Technology, Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, IL 60115

Abstract - In many automated manufacturing assembly systems today, several components that are manufactured by different companies have to be integrated together into a functional automated cell. In order to achieve full functionality, most companies require services of system integrators to put together different proprietary hardware and software into a single work cell. The demand for such skilled workers especially in the Northern Illinois manufacturing base of Rockford and Chicagoland still remains very high. In many colleges, it is difficult to provide this important area of skill due to the expensive equipment required, or the highly diversified skills needed. In its continuing efforts to restructure and improve the curriculum, Northern Illinois University’s (NIU) Department of Technology has recognized such needs of industry and has developed several new areas in its Manufacturing Engineering Technology (MET) program. These new areas include vision applications in manufacturing, robotics, programmable controllers, automated data capture and management, and networking applications in manufacturing. So far these areas have been existing as “islands of technology” and are well incorporated in the Automation and Programmable Controllers courses. However one key component that has not been fully developed is integration. To solve the needs of our diverse student population, and to produce graduates who posses the skill sets that our industry base needs, the NIU Department of Technology has developed a new laboratory that incorporates integration of these “islands” of technology to provide an automated assembly system. The scheme consists of an automated bottle capping and sorting system that is accomplished on a refurbished conveyor. Bottles are loaded automatically by robot, and a vision system is used to inspect the bottle to determine its type. A second robot installs either a white cap or black cap at the next pallet stop depending on the bottle type. A third robot places the finished bottle in the appropriate bin. A PLC is used to control the “hand-shaking” of signals, the pallet stops and the whole process cycle. This paper describes its implementation and how it is used in the automation curriculum to teach integration.

Keywords: - Robotics, Machine vision, Programmable Controllers, Digital I/Os

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Ferry, W., & Otieno, A. (2004, June), Development Of A Low Cost Laboratory System For Teaching Automation System Integration In The Manufacturing Engineering Technology Curriculum Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--14012

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