Mechatronics is not a specialty within engineering that you come across everyday but as more and more devices are connected to the internet, the significance of increased collaboration between mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering is increasingly pushed to fore. This also shines a spotlight on building an understanding of the interconnected dynamics of these previously isolated departments within engineering.
Part of every device you see around you, mechatronics is at work right from the complex computing systems to your coffee-maker. Simply put, having to do with all electronics that control mechanical systems, it goes without saying that students in engineering need to experience science in the most practical of terms and in the context of technological advances within the industry.
At Bosch Rexroth, my team and I have been working to highlight the importance of building an understanding at the grassroots and also open minds to possibilities presented by such collaboration. Further innovations can be achieved through scaling and combining elements such as mobile applications, machinery applications and engineering, factory automation, and even renewable energies.
With an ever-increasing focus on artificial intelligence, today when it comes to the drawing board, the design of mechanical components within a factory must be performed together with that of the electrical/electronic and computer control aspects that will comprise the complete system. It should be planned knowing that at some point in time the device or machine will serve a purpose beyond function and as a source of information.
The industrial landscape within the UAE is fast evolving, for example, with an increase1 of 290% licenses issued in 2017 over the previous year. As customer/consumer needs evolve a new wave of tailored system solutions and services, the engineer of the future will have the ability of developing the skill to bring together not just the functions but also the coordination of finer details and factors including customers hydraulics, electric drives and controls, gear technology, and linear motion and assembly technology that today can be controlled from a singular source.
Within education curriculum, ready-to-use mechatronic training systems are the ideal platforms to learn how different technologies work together in a real application. With the technology available for it, engineering faculty can today use the modules to put together their own training systems and individual learning paths for students. And the benefit from such an integrated teaching approach that doesn’t stop at the devices, but instead begins there, at the most basic level.
In our proprietary mMS 4.0 platform, we incorporate original industrial components of the modules and stations that guarantees a reliable and robust training system for everyday use, with attention to detail down to the design of the table set-up. One station on the platform can cover the majority of mechatronic topics and can be expanded to an entire plant. Because students are guided through consecutive steps that build on each other, from single modules to mastering the overall functionality, their motivation remains high thanks to continuous small accomplishments.
Recent studies indicate that the UAE’s diversification efforts makes it among the high-potential economies ranked in terms of production readiness. It targets to increase manufacturing’s GDP2 share to 25% by 2025.The Ministry of Education has revealed the results of its “Majors in Demand” Study for 2018 that indicate that engineering specialisations3 came out on top in terms of employment opportunities. As more manufacturing and design becomes localised in the Middle East, it is encouraging to see more and more universities and educational establishments respond to this need, although through rather different approaches. Going beyond project-based classroom learning, with IoT focused training at universities already in motion, engineers are already learning how adding a software layer to what used to be just machines before will bring forth. At an operations level within the manufacturing industry, the IT and manufacturing streams will therefore need to work closely, including the coordination of tasks and the understanding and analysis of data.
Prior practical knowledge of science will equip factories of the future through increased efficiency and a better utilisation of the workforce and resources. It will also help bridge any gaps between academics and management, the operations team and the wider workforce. Mechatronics at institutions also encourage new ideas and greater inter-departmental collaboration and with that further innovation within robotics, control systems, electro-mechanical systems, with shared ideas between specialisms. With a background in mechatronics, engineers can do quite a bit across multiple engineering disciplines and have a solid base from which to grow even further from. Mechatronics training can also support employees to get certified, with the learning methods and contents being at industry level, the gained knowledge can be applied in everyday work immediately.