Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and other state officials recently cut 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 a collaboration of the worker training agency AIDT, nearby Calhoun Community College, and robotics companies. It serves companies in the manufacturing, automotive, aviation/aerospace and defense industries.
The RTP is one of Alabama’s biggest economic development assets, according to Ed Castile, AIDT director 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,” said Castile.
Phase 3, which represent a $9 million investment and is 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.
Companies can also 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 at Phase 3 of the RTP.
The first two phases of the RTP were:
Phase 1: Maintenance and Automation Training Facility – This 60,000-square-foot facility provides industry-specific training in areas including safety, OSHA regulations, automation and robotic material handling.
Phase 2: Research and Development Facility – This 43,000-square-foot facility includes a 1-mile outdoor test track and provides space for four individual companies to research, test and implement robot/automation technologies.
Since Phase 1 opened in 2010, more than 200 companies and 3,000 employees have used 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 Honda Manufacturing of Alabama. “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.”
Science Application International Corp. uses the RTP to collaborate on a national level with other companies and teammates in the field of robotics.
“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,” said James Winchester, SAIC systems engineer. “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.”
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