Collaborative robots – or ‘cobots’ – will give local firms an insight into how they can be deployed in a range of workplace scenarios in Lanarkshire from next week.

A series of demonstrations of the functionality of potential squads of mechanised little helpers will begin at the region’s centre for manufacturing innovation and innovation.

The Smart Hub will host free interactive cobot demonstration events for May and June 2022, beginning on Wednesday May 11 through to Thursday June 16.

A partnership between North Lanarkshire Council, New College Lanarkshire and the University of Strathclyde, the centre is home to a robotics and automation training facility and a dedicated space for SMEs to meet, learn and access business support and academic expertise.

The live demonstrations are aimed at SMEs who are who are considering introducing automation and want to see what cobots can do for them.

Hosted at New College Lanarkshire’s Motherwell Campus, the upcoming events will give attendees the chance to see cobots operating up close, understand what tasks they can do and try out some basic programming. They will also learn about the applications for cobots in different manufacturing settings, from pick and place to palletising and welding. 

Barry Skea, head of department for science and technology at New College Lanarkshire, said: “These small group demonstrations will be invaluable for any business which wants to find out more about using collaborative robots for a particular task, from palletising to machine tending. So if you’re a manufacturing SME who is considering how automation can help you become more productive, come and see us.” 

Caroline Brown, enterprise development officer at North Lanarkshire Council, said: “Cobots are capturing the interest and imagination of Lanarkshire manufacturing businesses. We are seeing growing demand from across the central belt as businesses switch on to the demonstration facility and the technical expertise that comes with it. These visits are translating through to Cobot trial uptake, with many companies seizing the chance to get a Cobot on site and to test its capabilities in a real time production setting at no cost.”

Chris Simpson, engineering & development manager (Global) from Coatbridge-based electronics company Retronix Ltd, who visited Smart Hub Lanarkshire this month, said: “Smart Hub Lanarkshire is a truly remarkable facility. It’s the first of its kind that allows companies to engage with academia, local authorities and organisations at the cutting edge of technology, particularly robotics. During our visit we were impressed with the facility, equipment and expertise available on site. I would highly recommend a visit to the Smart Hub for organisations looking to improve their processes regardless of the industry. The flexibility of the cobots is extraordinary, and we are looking forward to our trial period with the cobot.”