Robots replaced for ETC upgrade

Excellence Training Center updates Fanuc robots. Photo by Scott Chittock II / Jambar Contributor

By Scott Chittock II

Youngstown State University’s Excellence Training Center recently replaced several old Fanuc robots with five newer, up-to-date models that cost $400,000.

Scott Craig, the program manager for Workforce Training-Robotics and Automation, teaches classes at Kohli Hall where students receive hands-on experience with the Fanuc robots, which were unveiled in December 2022. 

“It brought us into the new century here. The old robots were from the 90s,” Craig said. “The operating system on them hasn’t really changed all that much in the past 30 years, but these are up-to-date with everything they’re using now.”

 Craig said the new robots make training convenient. 

“They’ve got the safety features on them that are pretty common to industry,” Craig said. “When people come and they get trained on these, they’re gonna understand what they’re going to see when they go out into industry.”

The new robots are Fanuc m10id-12s, which have a payload of 12 kilograms, but students aren’t just learning how to use that model specifically. According to Craig, most Fanuc robots operate the same way. 

“That’s what differentiates the different Fanuc robots for the most part … the amount of weight they’ll carry,” Craig said. “You program a 12 kilogram robot the same way you’d program a 200 kilogram robot.” 

The new robots can be used for a variety of tasks and proper training is important to make things safer and more efficient Craig said.  

Marielle Muncy, a senior mechanical engineering technology major, works with the Fanuc robots in Craig’s robotics technology class. Muncy said the experience with the robots is important to her college experience.

“We don’t get a lot of hands-on opportunities, so this is very valuable to us to be actually able to get our hands on a machine and see how things really work in the field,”  Muncy said.

Jay Wargacki, operations manager at Kohli Hall, said the new robots offer more to YSU than the old robots.

“Right now, with the Fanuc training that we offer through YSU mechanical engineering tech programs, we offer certification classes for robot handling,” Wargacki said.

Wargacki said the three levels of certification available are tool handling, infrared vision and programmable logic controller integration. Currently, YSU only offers tool handling, but will soon offer all three levels of certification because of the new robots.

YSU purchased the new robots because of a Defense Logistics Agency grant, which will be used to make a variety of improvements to the building. ETC Director Jackie Ruller stated that YSU received a total of $5.7 million over two rounds of funding.

The university partnered with America Makes and the University of Northern Iowa for the grant and the projects involved. One of its main focuses is to partner with small and medium-sized foundry companies to help integrate technologies like 3D printing, robotics and more across the country.