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Purdue Calumet moves packaging industry fast-forward
:: 13 October, 2009
Anything that's bagged, bottled or boxed and runs on a conveyor built will be produced a lot more effectively and efficiently as a result of technology developed at Purdue University Calumet.
Purdue Calumet's School of Technology and more than a dozen packaging machinery manufacturers from around the country have partnered to develop a campus-based mechatronics laboratory equipped with $200,000 of the type of high-speed, complex machinery used in the packaging industry.
Mechatronics is a new term for the discipline that combines mechanical engineering and electronics.Purdue leaders and a pair of graduate students who work in the lab took Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville, on a tour of the laboratory Monday.
Visclosky, who had lots of questions on the process, said he could see how the high-speed application will move the packaging industry forward.Industry leaders say there is a need for trained technologists to operate the complex equipment that drives the $6 billion packaging industry. Purdue Calumet introduced the program last fall that focuses on the emerging field of mechatronics engineering technology.
The mechatronics lab is designed to provide hands-on experience in the electrical and mechanical areas of designing, installing and troubleshooting equipment that produces and packages various items consumers buy daily.
"Within this new mechatronics lab, our students will learn advanced programming techniques, interfacing automated equipment, sensor design, machine design and troubleshooting," Purdue Calumet Dean of the School of Technology Niaz Latif said.
"Students will become prepared to design, install and troubleshoot this type of equipment, making them very valuable to employers," he said.
Maria Ferrante, senior director of training and development for the Virginia-based Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute, said she is one of the many business leaders working with Purdue Calumet faculty, focusing on the needs of the packaging industry.
"The technology that Purdue has developed is going to make the packaging industry more efficient and effective. There will be less waste, and it will be environmentally friendly," she said.
Graduate students Gautam Agarwal, 23, and Mohammad "MD" Rasheduzzaman, 27, showed how the conveyor belt and the electrical controls operate.
"This has provided a great opportunity to us as students to be able to work on the equipment," Agarwal said, demonstrating how the conveyor belt could automatically reject a box.