The Alabama Robotics Technology Park (RTP) near Decatur was envisioned as an educational, research, entrepreneurial and training robotics park that would enhance Alabama’s economic and workforce development efforts.
With a third and final facility now being added to the campus, the $73 million RTP represents nothing less than a leap into the future for Alabama’s worker training efforts. The project is a collaboration between Alabama’s worker training agency (AIDT), Calhoun Community College and the world’s leading robotics companies.
RTP’s Phase I building, called the Robotic Maintenance Training Center, opened in November 2010. In this 60,000-square-foot structure, trainers from top industrial robotics companies instruct technicians on how to work on automation equipment. The facility houses around 40 industrial robots and features an automated welding lab and an automated manufacturing line.
The 43,000-square-foot Phase II building, named the Advanced Technology Research and Development Center, is home to companies testing cutting-edge robotics/automation technology used in defense, space exploration and advanced manufacturing. The building has a test track for unmanned vehicles designed for military applications such as clearing mines and for civilian uses including first response.
Construction on RTP’s Phase III building – the Integration, Entrepreneurial and Paint Dispensing Training Center – began in October 2014. The 50,000-square-foot facility, which opened in late 2015, was designed to let employees train on new equipment and software before a company installs it in a factory. It includes an area for training employees to use robots and manual spraying to paint vehicle parts or other products.
RTP can provide training for as many as 2,000 people a year, at no charge to the companies that send them as long as they have operations in Alabama. It has partnerships with the world’s leading industrial robotics companies, including Fanuc, ABB, Kuka, OTC, Cloos, Kawasaki, Mitsubishi and Motoman, which place their equipment at the facility.
RTP also has a mobile robotics training lab that uses an instructional tool to stimulate interest in careers related to industrial automation and robotics.