SAIMC JHB meeting: Reflections and robots

February 4th, 2019, Published in Articles: EngineerIT

The SAIMC Johannesburg branch held its first technical evening of the year on 23 January, in conjunction with the 2019 annual general meeting. At the meeting, branch secretary Cheryl Hird reflected on 2018, which was deemed to have been a very successful year with high attendance for the monthly technical evenings, training events, and the annual golf day. Branch chairperson Ann de Beer also announced that the society is looking to host a female-friendly social event this year; one that doesn’t require the attendees to swing a club. There was also talk of merging some events with the SAIMC Tshwane branch for the improvement of planning and networking. Finally, the 2019 committee was elected (pictured).

SAIMC JHB 2019 committee: (From left) Cheryl Hird, Dean Floyd, Laura van der Merwe, Andre Eybers, Ann de Beer, and Eric Carter

The technical talk of the evening was presented by Frederik Langenhoven from Cobots. He presented on ways to use collaborative robots (cobots) in the manufacturing environment. Collaborative robots are designed to be used uncaged and in conjunction with people on a production line. Use of this technology enables not only big international manufacturing facilities but also small to medium size enterprises to have more reputability, traceability and productivity in their day-to-day activities. Langenhoven undertook a live demonstration of how these robots can be easily programmed to work alongside humans in a factory setting, taking on repetitive tasks and enabling the human to work faster and with higher accuracy. He dispelled many myths surrounding robots, ranging from scalability, to costs, to job security. He said that cobots are not meant to replace people, but to augment them. He also mentioned that a robotic application in a factory doesn’t have to be massive or expensive. Return-on-investment for cobots in South Africa is 18 – 24 months, and they can be implemented in small and medium businesses to huge advantage.

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