Robot offers local business a helping hand

A Staffordshire University student is working with a local company to drive forward their business – with a helping hand from a robotic arm

Student Shruti photographed next to a robotic arm

Shruti Chakraborty is using innovative robotic technology to help a local business

I would like to work in an industry where I'm using robotics to help automation or improve a process in the real-world. This project was a perfect example of such a role.

Shruti Chakraborty, MSc Robotics and Smart Technologies

Shruti Chakraborty, studying MSc Robotics and Smart Technologies, joined forces with Promtek Ltd for a three-month internship through Staffordshire University’s prototyping and product development programme, SAMPID.

Shruti, 21, from Kolkata in India, said: “I would like to work in an industry where I'm using robotics to help automation or improve a process in the real-world. This project was a perfect example of such a role and that was one of the main benefits – being able to live that experience and collaborate with the company, with academics and with the technical staff.”

Funded by Staffordshire University and the European Regional Development Fund 2014-2020, the SAMPID programme helps businesses develop new to the market products or components utilising cutting edge equipment. Brindley Ford based company Promtek Ltd signed up to explore whether robotic automation could help improve ingredient handling processes for clients in the manufacturing industry.

Charles Williams, Director of Promtek, explained: “We work for companies that manufacture products like biscuits, animal feed, fire extinguisher powders, oil blending. So, it's really important that they are manufactured correctly using the right materials and the right quantities.

“I personally have always wanted to use robotics. It’s not that common in our solutions and certainly in our industry - customers don't generally use robots - but I always felt there was an opportunity for that.”

Currently, operators in manufacturing industries often weigh out small amounts of ingredients by hand which is prone to human error and can include toxic or corrosive materials which could be harmful to their health. To improve accuracy and assist operators, Shruti has been using Staffordshire University state-of-art facilities to investigate whether a robotic arm can be programmed to weigh out ingredients instead.

Charles commented: “I see Staffordshire University as a go-to resource for us when we're looking for either new ideas or talent that we want to bring into the business. All the success of the project to date is really down to Shruti and her approach and so she gets full credit for that. It has been a real pleasure to work with her.”

As Shruti nears the end of her Master’s degree she believes this experience will help kickstart her career in robotics and encourages other students to take up the opportunity to get involved with the SAMPID programme.

She said: “You not only gain more technical experience but also build a relationship with the company and learn how to communicate and interact in such scenarios.

“You get to use the lab facilities which is great, and you get to learn a lot more than you would just by doing your course. I think I would definitely recommend people to enrol and sign up!”

SAMPID offers bespoke, fully funded support for SMEs across the region to innovate their business by providing access to student talent, a dedicated academic expert and cutting-edge equipment. 

Find out how Staffordshire University can support your business or discover more about our range of postgraduate courses online or at an Open Event.

 

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