By popular demand

When competition really hotted up for time on two Festo PLC-controlled workstations in Tresham Institute's mechatronics laboratory, the institute didn't think twice and invested in a third, to meet demand.

Tresham Institute

Tresham Institute is a Further Education College that combines a business-like approach with a strong commitment to putting the individual student at the heart of all strategic planning and decisionmaking.

It’s a philosophy that clearly works well – today the College has an annual income of over £21 million and over 2,200 full time and 14,000 part time students on its five campuses in Corby, Wellingborough, Kettering (two campuses) and the Rutland College in Oakham. Tresham is striving consistently towards equal opportunities for students and staff, and seeks to provide a place where both can achieve their  maximum potential.

In recent years, it has invested substantially in engineering training support within its Engineering Department with impressive current facilities: for example, students at the Corby campus have access to two computer suites, advanced CAD/CAM workstations, an industrial rapid prototyping system – and a mechatronics laboratory.

Popular simulations

In 2003, as part of a £45,000 investment partly funded by East Midlands Technology Initiative (NTI), Tresham bought three Festo Modular Production System (MPS)stations, and two Festo PLCcontrolled workstations.

This range of Festo equipment offers the student at Tresham the opportunity to  develop and grow their engineering expertise. The MPS stations enable ‘real world’ industrial automation systems to be modelled at various levels of complexity; they are universal, modular and open to further system expansion, which means they can be adapted readily to reflect students' current state of knowledge.

The PLC-controlled workstations help to familiarise students with real-life industrial control systems and processes. They employ a wide variety of pneumatic, electropneumatic and hydraulic actuators, together with their associated control valves, and are backed by powerful simulation software.

According to Pete Lillyman, Senior Lecturer in Tresham Institute’s Engineering Department, demand for time on the PLC-controlled  workstations in particular soon outstripped supply. “The increasing popularity of our engineering courses means that the workstations are heavily used, and students often have to wait at popular times, until they can gain access to them.”

When a second, £25,000 allocation of funding from the East Midlands NTI became available in 2005, “we jumped at the chance of installing a third PLC-controlled workstation for the Engineering Department”, explains Pete Lillyman, adding: “The addition of a third workstation will allow us to meet demand – I know it will prove an invaluable resource for our engineers of tomorrow.” 

Open the entire story in .pdf by clicking here TIA_5_UK_popular_demand.pdf


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