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ARTICLE: Industry 4.0 Awareness and Experience Workshop

POSTED: 04 Jun, 2024

These workshops were organised and run by Swinburne University of Technology’s Factory of the Future and were funded through the Victorian Government’s Digital Jobs for Manufacturing (DJFM) program. 

This article is written by PhD researcher from Swinburne University of Technology, Jagannatha Pyaraka.

In a series of enlightening workshops, Swinburne University of Technology has taken significant step in bridging the gap between industry professionals and the transformative potential of Industry 4.0 technologies. Over the past few weeks, four workshops were organized at strategic locations to maximize outreach and impact. The workshops were held at the VGBO office in Bundoora, Holiday Inn Dandenong, Rydges Geelong, and Mercure Ballarat. These sessions aimed to raise awareness and provide hands-on experience with collaborative robots (cobots), a foundation of modern industrial automation and other Industry 4.0 technologies such as AR, VR and wearable sensors.

The workshops attracted operations managers, CEOs, CFOs, and other key decision-makers eager to understand the practical applications and benefits of cobots in their respective fields. Accompanied by my ACC colleague, Dr. Anushani Bibile, we used the easily portable and cost-effective UFactory xArm6 cobot to demonstrate cobotics functionality.

The workshops commenced with an introduction to collaborative robots. Unlike traditional industrial robots, which often require extensive programming and are confined to specific tasks, cobots are designed to share a workspace with humans. Their ease of programming, adaptability to various tasks, and advanced safety features make them suitable for dynamic and evolving industrial environments.

To illustrate these points, we demonstrated a program involving the stacking of four objects. The objects were placed in predefined positions, and xArm6 was tasked with picking each object and stacking them. This exercise highlighted the cobot’s ability to perform repetitive tasks and its intuitive programming interface. Using Blockly, a visual programming language, participants observed how quickly and easily they could teach the cobot to execute tasks.

Following the demonstration, participants had the opportunity to interact with xArm6. They used Blockly to program the cobot for a simple pick-and-place task. This exercise allowed them to experience the user-friendly interface and the cobot’s responsiveness. The feedback was positive, with many participants noting how quickly they could learn to program and operate the cobot.

The hands-on session helped to remove common misconceptions about the complexity and inflexibility of industrial automation. By the end of the workshop, participants had a better understanding of how cobots can be integrated into their operations to enhance productivity, safety, and cost-effectiveness.

The workshops also emphasized the cost-effectiveness of cobots. Unlike traditional robots that require significant investment in programming and setup, cobots like the xArm6 offer an affordable solution without compromising performance. Their advanced safety systems, which allow them to operate safely alongside human workers, make them a viable option for businesses of all sizes.

Specific feedback from participants highlighted the positive impact and value of these sessions. One attendee noted, “The workshop provided a great insight into how Industry 4.0 can better impact our business and automate our processes.” Another participant appreciated the practical demonstrations, stating, “It was great to see the practical applications during the demonstrations.” Many attendees emphasized that the hands-on experience was invaluable, with one remarking, “Cobots demo was very stimulating. Thoroughly enjoyed the workshop.”

Before the workshop, common reactions included uncertainty about the complexity and applicability of cobots in their operations. After the sessions, many participants expressed confidence in integrating these technologies into their workflows, recognizing the potential for improved efficiency and innovation.

Overall, these workshops effectively bridged the knowledge gap for attendees, providing them with the tools and understanding necessary to embrace Industry 4.0 technologies. As more companies recognize the benefits of automation, the demand for cobots is set to rise, paving the way for a more efficient and innovative industrial landscape.


About the author

Jagannatha Pyaraka is a PhD researcher based at Swinburne and his project is part of the Biomimic Cobots Program. Jagannatha received his Bachelor of Engineering degree from GITAM Deemed University in 2018 and Masters degree in Mechatronics, Robotics and Automation Engineering in 2021 from Swinburn ... more