Tanner, AL — There’s a new state-of-the-art tool in Alabama’s worker training efforts. The Alabama Robotics Technology Park opened in 2010 and represents an $80 million investment.
Gov. Robert Bentley and other officials are cutting the ribbon on Phase 3 of the Robotics Technology Park, an $80 million, 85-acre campus in Limestone County where employees from Alabama companies receive training on the latest equipment from top industrial robot makers and automation software firms.
The RTP is one of Alabama’s biggest economic development assets, said Ed Castile, director of the worker training agency AIDT and head of the Alabama Department of Commerce’s workforce development office.
“The third phase of this world class training complex represents Alabama’s full commitment to advance training opportunities for its citizens and our commitment to helping companies expand in our great state,” Castile said.
Opportunity for Training
Since Phase 1 opened in 2010, about 200 companies and 3,000 employees have used the RTP, which is a collaboration of AIDT, nearby Calhoun Community College and the world’s leading robotics companies.
It serves a wide range of firms in the state, including those in manufacturing, automotive, aviation/aerospace and defense.
One such company is Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, which builds the Odyssey minivan, Pilot SUV, Acura MDX SUV and Ridgeline pickup in Talladega County.
Honda says it is a strong supporter of the RTP.
“Since its inception, the RTP has provided an opportunity for training for many of our Equipment Service Associates and engineers,” said Ted Pratt, spokesman for the automaker’s Alabama operations. “Because the RTP has many of the same robot brands that we use at HMA, we are able to schedule specific classes for Honda associates at the facility.”
Alabama robotics park
More than 200 companies with Alabama operations have used Robotics Technology Park.
Another user is Science Application International Corp. The company’s Huntsville-based operation uses the RTP to collaborate on a national level with other companies and teammates in the field of robotics, said James Winchester, SAIC systems engineer.
“By using this facility, SAIC is able to work collaboratively with our current customers and expand our customer base, which ultimately helps to grow Alabama’s economy,” he said. “As an example, SAIC specifically used this space to support a developmental effort for the U.S. Army. Thanks to the ability to use the RTP facility, SAIC was awarded a follow-on contract by the Army.”
Winchester said SAIC’s partnership with the RTP also has allowed the company to attract internship talent from Auburn University, the University of Alabama, the University of Alabama Huntsville and Calhoun Community College to participate in its growing robotics programs.
The RTP also supports SAIC’s work at Redstone Arsenal, for which the company works to define and identify key roles for robotics in ordnance disassembly and maintenance. And most importantly, the RTP has helped SAIC gain exposure for its brand and capabilities, Winchester added.
$9 Million Investment
Phase 3, scheduled to officially open in late spring or early summer, is the Integration, Entrepreneurial and Paint Dispense Training Facility.
Companies can use the 52,000-square-foot facility to build, install and adapt automation equipment for new and existing manufacturing processes. They also can train their employees before installing the equipment in their plants.
Elsewhere in Phase 3, companies can send their employees for training on new and existing manual and robotic dispense techniques for paint, adhesives, sealer, epoxy and other materials, as well as dispense process research and testing.
Total investment is the phase is about $9 million.
Phase 3 follows two existing facilities in the RTP.
Phase 1, the Maintenance and Automation Training Facility, covers about 60,000 square feet and provides industry-specific training in areas including safety, OSHA regulations, automation and robotic material handling.
Phase 2, with 43,000 square feet and a 1-mile outdoor test track, is the Research and Development Facility. It offers space for four individual companies to research, test and implement robot/automation technologies.
Alabama Robotics Technology Park
The third building at Alabama’s Robotics Technology Park a $9 million investment, will open in late spring or early summer 2016. (Image: AIDT)