Sandusky County

Robots boosting business

Kern Center provides custom robotics training


Terra State Community College

In today’s industrial world, robots are an integral part to businesses and are being used for a wide variety of applications. One company may be using a robot to pick up razor sharp blades and placing them in packaging to be vacuum-sealed. Another may be utilizing one on an assembly line to move a product into a certain position to apply spray paint. Unfortunately, even with the benefits of robots in the workplace, there is a misconception in the world today that robots are going to take over.

“There is a sense that robots are going to replace human beings,” says Steve Hillard, executive director for Workforce Development and Corporate Partnerships for the Kern Center at Terra State Community College. “If a robot does take the place of a person at a business, most companies have a place to move that individual. What needs to be understood is that people are still needed to program and provide maintenance to the robots. There are many different applications that will still need human interaction to complete.”

As more and more industries begin to utilize robotics, the need for training is becoming paramount. The Kern Center at Terra State is a great resource for industries to use to ensure their employees are able meet the needs as robots become more commonplace. “The Kern Center possesses a wide-variety of robots that can provide training for a wide range of applications,” says Hillard.

Small “tabletop” robots train in programming. Two FANUC M-10 robots teach individual robot programming and programming two robots to talk to each other.

“This is important because it teaches how to program the robots to operate in a cellular format,” Hillard points out.

The Kern Center also recently purchased a FANUC CR-7iA/L collaborative robot that has the ability to interact with humans.

“This particular FANUC is capable of being programmed to cease operation when a human gets too close,” says Hillard.

Besides programming, robot maintenance is another training program the Center is setting up. Students can be trained in disassembling a robot then reassembling it. The FANUC M-10 also has a special training feature built into them, which allows faults to be set so students have to figure out what to do as part of their programming experience. “They can be set to cease operating to allow a student to figure out why it stopped, says Hillard. “This allows students to gain experience in what I like to call “latter-logic” thinking. This concept teaches a student how to trace backwards through a process to find an issue.”

The Kern Center can provide training to meet any company’s need.

“If a company needs very specific training, we can customize it,” Hillard says.

The benefits to customized training include the availability of credit and non-credit courses, flexible scheduling, grant opportunities and the training can be offered at the work site, at Terra State or a third-party location. Open enrollment courses are also available.

“If several companies are looking for the same training, the Kern Center can offer open enrollment courses,” says Hillard. “This type of course eliminates the need for a company to completely fill a class. Other companies with a similar training need can take part by sending employees. This can assist in keeping courses affordable and not removing too many employees from the workplace at one time.”

Companies interested in learning more about robotics or other training options through the Kern Center can visit, call 419.559.2464 or email


Pat McCauley is public relations specialist for Terra State Community College, 419-559-2382.