20 May 2017
Graduates of Cégep de Sherbrooke Collaborate with Large Company for a Robotics Project
Two Cégep de Sherbrooke graduates in industrial electronic technology worked with South Shore, an internationally renowned Estrie furniture manufacturer. They worked with the company to integrate a “collaborative-type” robot from the brand Universal Robots. The company asked the students to establish a proof of concept to automate a line of prefabricated furniture. And so they did!
“We had to follow this recipe to wrap the boards in boxes,” explained Olivier Roy, one of the students. “We had to find a way to eventually install this robot, something we had not explored much at Cégep, in the factory,” he added.
It was primarily programming that the students did for this nearly five-month contract. They configured each of the robot’s movements to assemble the boxes for the furniture. “We didn’t really have a final program to do. We worked with several small programs. So we don’t have a final product. We worked by trial and error,” noted Philippe Bédard, the other student at the end of his college journey.
In the course of this project, Philippe and Olivier had to plan and put themselves in the shoes of operators, to properly identify potential problems and prevent them. “Sometimes, we had boards that would get stuck. So we developed movements to take the board. It’s about the little details,” explained Philippe.
The experience was a very rewarding one for the two future professionals who proceeded by trial and error and learned the reality of work in a business, sometimes removed from the theory learned in class. “We were somewhat alone and we had to test the terrain to progress. We managed with the Internet, but not everything was documented,” explained the young men. “It was quite a challenge. What was nice was that we had direct communication with management. We were able to move ahead and acquire experience,” said the young men. The goal of the project for South Shore was to lighten the burden of routine or difficult tasks for the operators.
The plant director, Daniel Goyette, is pleased with the collaboration with the Cégep de Sherbrooke. “I wanted a robot for the packing. The project called for a presentation of a concept or laying the groundwork to see if we could reach our goal for packing. We knew we wouldn’t find a solution, but there were realities that the students explained to me such as the robot’s grip, sight, etc. They showed us what direction to take.”
Mr. Goyette says that there will certainly be a second phase for the project, which will probably be carried out with the Cégep de Sherbrooke as well. “This initiative is a response to the shortage of skilled labour. We want to promote creation and innovation. It enabled us to move ahead and get ideas,” concluded Mr. Goyette.
Back to the news