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Using Cost Saving Hard Automation Laboratory Projects In Manufacturing Education

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Curriculum Development in Manufacturing ET

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.1252.1 - 7.1252.8



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Manocher Djassemi

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Session 3548

Using Cost-Saving Hard Automation Laboratory Projects in Manufacturing Education

Manocher Djassemi Murray State University


This paper discusses the benefits of incorporating hard automation-oriented projects in manufacturing laboratories. This approach enables academic programs with limited funding to provide a valuable hands-on experience in factory automation to students while they are in school, rather than leaving it to be learned in the workplace. Two examples of laboratory projects involving high and low degrees of hard automation activities are presented. The hardware designed and built by the students as well as the associated costs are discussed.


Engineering technology (ET) and industrial technology (IT) programs are facing the challenging task of educating competent students in many aspects of manufacturing including factory automation. A hands-on educational approach has been an effective tool to gain such competency in ET and IT programs. Many of these programs offer laboratory-oriented manufacturing courses with the mission of providing students with practical experience in automation and its application in integration of production systems. A common laboratory facility in ET and IT programs includes computer-integrated manufacturing which may be referred to as CIM lab or robotics lab 1,2,3. CIM/robotics laboratories are typically equipped with educational, and in many instances, commercial grade machine tools and instruments. At the undergraduate level, the laboratory is primarily used for soft automation education. That is, teaching how to program computer-controlled equipment such as computer numerical control (CNC) machines, robots, and programmable logic controllers (PLC). However, a soft automation approach should be coupled with a hard automation learning approach if a full spectrum of factory automation education is desirable.

Hard automation is a full or near full scale development of an actual automated manufacturing and/or assembly workcell using capital equipment such as CNC machines and robots, components that are fabricated by students, and a variety of standard parts such as pneumatic cylinders and sensory devices. The use of hard automation-oriented projects in manufacturing education benefits students in the sense that a) it provides them with a detailed practical knowledge of how to develop a real world factory automation project “built from scratch”, and b) they learn how to manage various phases of a project construction from the “ground up,” including equipment installation, integration, and troubleshooting phases. Thus,

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Djassemi, M. (2002, June), Using Cost Saving Hard Automation Laboratory Projects In Manufacturing Education Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--11189

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