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EEF’s Technology Hub in Aston – along with the nearby EEF Technology Centre – is the training facility for hundreds of apprentices for manufacturing companies each year. The Hub, completed last year, will soon have an Automation Training Cell. This state-of-the-art system will further enhance the Hub’s reputation as the premier engineering apprentice training facility as it will ensure apprentices can have hands-on training on how today and tomorrow’s automated factories and logistics facilities will operate.


Apprentices using the facility will be able to master a number of skills including robot programming, drive systems, sensing, control and communications, pneumatics, conveying systems and safety controls. The training cell – which will also be used for upskilling of those currently working in the engineering sector – will feature Kuka, Fanuc and ABB robots, as well as wireless communications for part tracking and data capture, aligned with Industry 4.0.

The cell features a dual control system to allow students to become familiar with both Siemens and Rockwell control and HMI architectures. The cell will also feature a “tutor” HMI to enable fault conditions to be created such as disabling sensors and switches and to create a range of failure and recovery scenarios for the students to identify and rectify.

The cell is designed and equipped with a comprehensive range of representative industry standard components from a variety of manufacturers.

The cell will also include the inspection, conveying and robot transfer of component shafts into, and out of, the cell and the robot pick and place of a Jaguar Land Rover donated body panel and new component shaft platen units.


The system is designed for fault scenario creation whereby an instructor is able to insert faults into the system for the learners to identify and rectify. These faults can vary from simple things such as disabling a proximity sensor, to simulating incorrect data coming back from a sensor or RFID system, or even a fault in a communications protocol to a robot. The cell features typical fault identification and rectification test protocols which are then used to assess a learner’s individual performance.

To find out more about the facilities at the Technology Hub, take a tour during an upcoming Open Day.