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Festo Didactic, Hartnell College collaborate on advanced training

Nov. 30, 2021
Partnership brings Industry 4.0 job training to the college

Hartnell College utilizes the Industry 4.0 capabilities of a custom Festo Didactic Cyber-Physical Factory for its new manufacturing and produce processing and packaging training program. Source: Hartnell College and Festo Didactic 

Hartnell’s community college students will receive a customized Cyber-Physical Factory learning system from Festo Didactic. The simulated Smart Factory includes integrated logistics, communication, mechatronics, robotic assembly and troubleshooting capabilities.

The learning system is fully networked and virtually integrated with a human-machine interface (HMI); programmable logic controllers (PLCs), and data acquisition, collection and analysis (SCADA) and wireless connection networking. The factory also utilizes material handling robots with infrared vision capability for advanced robotic training.

“Festo’s cyber-physical training system emulates what it’s like to work in a modern industrial setting,” said Tony Oran, vice president of Festo Didactic North America. “The hands-on experience, with exposure to advanced automation and related technologies, is invaluable for students and anyone looking to upskill in order to qualify for Industry 4.0 careers.”

The partnership is in response to the need for skilled workers in the agricultural sector, as produce processing and packaging becomes a highly automated work environment.

“We need 1,000 people right now that we don’t have,” said Clint Cowden, dean of academic affairs for Hartnell College. “The mechanical innovation is here, but who’s trained to use it?”

After touring modern manufacturing, produce processing and packaging facilities, Cowden and the Hartnell team began seeking out the type of learning equipment needed to educate and train students for the future of work. “Instead of focusing on price, we focused on who can fulfill the skills training and build the biggest and best product. We knew we needed a partner who was up-to-speed on Industry 4.0, then we found Festo,” Cowden said.

Hartnell received crucial seed funding from Taylor Farms in 2019 to help jumpstart its Manufacturing Technology program. Rio Farms also made long-term investments to impact Hartnell’s graduate pipeline.

“We know what we need, and we know that Hartnell can provide the education we need as an industry,” said David Gill, Partner at Rio Farms. “We need additional training, we need technicians, we need automation, we need students who have software knowledge - and our equipment today is more technical than ever.”

Looking ahead, Cowden added: “We’re trying to work with middle school and high school teachers to show them what we’re doing and expose them to Industry 4.0. We need to work together to build a strong student pipeline of future graduates who will enter into these programs.”

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