Robotics & Mechatronics


The challenges and opportunities in robotics

First Quarter 2021 Robotics & Mechatronics

With the high levels of unemployment in South Africa, it is essential to identify where there are skills shortages and to encourage learners to study in those fields that present employment opportunities. An industry such as robotics is calling out for more engineers; however, there is a concerning trend taking place at school level.

Mathematics and science – the two crucial disciplines required for a foundation in engineering – have seen a rapid decline in the number of students writing and passing these subjects in matric. According to the Department of Education, the number of students taking maths in Grade 12 declined from 263 903 in 2015 to 222 043 in 2019, while physical science declined from 193 189 to 164 478 in the same timeframe.

According to Yaskawa Southern Africa chairman, Terry Rosenberg, these two subjects are the minimum requirements to get into robotics. Subsequently, you also need some form of tertiary education in electronic and/or mechanical engineering to open doors in the field.

“It’s important that students differentiate between the manufacturing of robots and the use of robots, because our country generally specialises in the latter,” Rosenberg explains. “Most robots are manufactured overseas, but you do require knowledge of how robots are made and how they work so that you can understand where they can be utilised and how to program them for certain applications.”

Compared to global standards, Rosenberg believes South Africa has a long way to go in terms of the quantity and quality of the skills levels required, and an intervention needs to start at grassroots. To achieve this, however, both the public and private sectors need to play critical roles in skills development.

In terms of the former, it is important to provide the basic educational tools while encouraging and channelling students into the engineering environment. If the students do not have foundations such as maths and science literacy, it is difficult for them to progress in the engineering field. At the same time, the private sector can provide specialised training and certifications to suitable candidates.

“As a company, we take training extremely seriously, hence the setting up of our training facility and academy,” Rosenberg says. “We take the steps to offer training courses for our clients and their staff, taking them through the essentials of robotics and how to use the products they buy. Our training programmes are based on our European counterparts’ standards and range from one to six weeks. The learners come away with an internationally recognised certification and an improved knowledge of robotics.”

Rosenberg adds that it’s just as important for companies and institutions to work together in addressing the skills gap. Instead of waiting for either party to act and make the first move, they can support each other through knowledge sharing and other means.

“The South African Institute of Welding is doing a good job of training people on how to weld,” Rosenberg says. “We donated a robot to the institute and offer advanced training for welding robots. We believe this can only be beneficial to the welders in training, allowing them to develop new skills and experience the world of robotics first-hand. And this could inspire them to upskill and embark on a journey into our industry at some point.”

Ultimately, for anyone wanting to get into the robotics field, it is important to bed down the basics first. Students need to investigate the requirements and criteria for their desired career paths, ensuring they are studying the right subjects and meeting the necessary standards. There are opportunities out there for determined and diligent pupils, but it is important that they also lay the seeds for their future success.

For more information contact Brenda Herrero, Yaskawa Southern Africa, +27 11 608 3182,  brenda@yaskawa.za.com www.yaskawa.za.com




Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

The benefits of collaborative robots
Second Quarter 2021, SMC Corporation South Africa , Editor's Choice, Robotics & Mechatronics
While robotics led the way for the rapid growth of automation, cobots are the democratisation of robotics technology. They eliminate the cost and complex programming that robots usually require while providing much greater flexibility.

Read more...
Robots in the workforce
Second Quarter 2021 , Robotics & Mechatronics
No, the machines aren’t taking over.

Read more...
Streamlined food deliveries
First Quarter 2021, Omron Electronics , Robotics & Mechatronics
It’s part of a larger experiment called the Six City Strategy ‘New solutions in city logistics’ project, which is looking at possible options for last mile deliveries in Finnish cities. It’s looking for ...

Read more...
Selecting a mobile robot for heavy loads
First Quarter 2021, Omron Electronics , Robotics & Mechatronics
Five questions to ask when selecting autonomous material transport technology for industrial applications.

Read more...
Changing the automotive industry with robots
Fourth Quarter 2020 , Robotics & Mechatronics
When it comes to industrial robotics, there’s no doubt that its greatest impact is in the automotive industry. The technology has given manufacturers a competitive advantage – improving the quality of ...

Read more...
The role of pick and place robots
Fourth Quarter 2020 , Robotics & Mechatronics
As automation became widely accepted and implemented throughout various industries, robotics took it one step further with robots designed for specific applications, such as handling, packaging and ...

Read more...
Mobile robot with 1500 kg payload capacity
Fourth Quarter 2020, Omron Electronics , Robotics & Mechatronics
The 1500 kg payload capacity enables transportation of large automotive components such as car chassis and voluminous pallet size payloads − items that would have traditionally been moved using forklifts. ...

Read more...
Reducing business downtime with robots
Third Quarter 2020 , Robotics & Mechatronics
In a world that is always connected and moving at a blistering speed, businesses cannot afford to have extensive periods of downtime. As efficiency becomes a primary driver of business, industries are ...

Read more...
Gimatic builds on its mechatronics expertise
Third Quarter 2020, Gimatic , Robotics & Mechatronics
Gimatic is a leading global manufacturer of pneumatic and electric grippers for End Of Arm Tooling used in industrial automation. The company specialises in the production of vacuum cups (flat and bellow), ...

Read more...
The future of collaborative robots
Third Quarter 2020, Omron Electronics , Editor's Choice, Robotics & Mechatronics
Collaborative robots (cobots) that can work safely in the same environment as people have an important role in enabling flexible manufacturing and creating a competitive advantage for companies. A new ...

Read more...