If anyone says manufacturing is a business of the past, they will be met with a “not at all” confirmation from David Zunis.
Zunis is the Director of Services and Applications Engineering at Absolute Machine Tools in Lorraine, which has been importing and selling CNC machines for 35 years.
Recently, the company has been predicting the future of the industry and ramping up its automation and robotics divisions.
And they’re doing this, in part, to fill gaps in the workforce.
“We are pushing more and more towards automation because people are not there,” Zunes said. We do not replace jobs, we fill vacancies.
“And when you’re in the world of automation and robotics, you still need people to fix and program the robots.”
To keep pace with advances in automation, and to ensure employees have the necessary skills, Zunes said Absolute Machine Tools has turned to its long-term training partner, Lauren County Community College.
“We count on LCCC to bring our workforce up to speed with the skills we need in today’s manufacturing world,” he said. “You need good mathematical skills and good cognitive abilities. You have to understand the data.”
In fact, Zunis and Absolute Machine Tools have done more than rely on LCCC to prepare their employees for the growth of automation; The company had a hand in designing the college’s latest program focused on automated equipment.
Zunis represented Absolute Machine Tools among a group of local employers who helped design the LCCC’s Bachelor of Applied Science curriculum in Intelligent Industrial Robotic Systems Engineering Technology.
The LCCC launched the program in the fall of 2022 in response to the rapid development of disruptive technologies that are shaping advanced manufacturing in Northeast Ohio.
It is the second Bachelor of Applied Science degree launched by LCCC, and it piles up seamlessly with the LCCC Associate of Applied Science in Automation Engineering Technology degree.
“It really amazed me that we have a community college that offers a four-year degree program in its ranks,” Zunes said.
One of the first students in the program is Emily Gravin of Lorraine.
The 19-year-old is an automation engineer at Absolute Machine Tools.
She started with the company as an intern while attending Lorain County JVS, and now, Zunis sees her as someone who can help lead the company’s automation-focused future.
“Emily is learning things that we are literally in the middle of working on right now with our clients,” Zunes said. “She’s learning exactly what we need you to learn, so it’s an immediate payoff.”
Graven grew up with an appreciation for the craft and knew since she was ten that she wanted a practical career.
“A lot of my family is in the auto business,” Graven said. “I used to watch my dad and brother work on an engine and then I put them in a car, and now this car works. I thought it was pretty good.”
After touring JVS’s Precision Machine Technology Lab, Graven said she opened her eyes to the possibilities of manufacturing.
She also participated in the LCCC Professional Technical Education Partnership Program with Lorain County JVS and received college credit for two semesters.
By her first year, Graven had her internship with Absolute Machine Tools.
“At that point, I didn’t know I wanted to make robots,” Graven recalls. “I didn’t know what automation was.”
But as Graven learned more about Absolute Machine Tools, she began to see how automation would expand within the company, along with the entire manufacturing industry.
Zunes said the division’s growth over the past four years has been the result of strategic planning.
“We looked at where we needed to be in terms of selling CNC machine tools and our services,” he said. “We asked what would make us more profitable in the future, and what would put us ahead of our competitors. And automation was a big part of that.”
Zunis said the company’s automation division may be its smallest, but it’s the fastest growing.
It provides another opportunity for Graven to thrive, and perhaps become a leader, within a company that taught her everything she knew about manufacturing.
“I learned a lot on the job, but college has opportunities to teach me new things that I can put back on the job,” Graven said.
Her favorite class so far was the PLC course where she learned to write ladder logic.
She has also received full robotics training and obtained the Mitsubishi Electric Robot Maintenance Technician certification.
She is now gaining experience with FANUC arc welding robots.
“After this class, I will have mastered every robot we sell at Absolute,” Graven said.
While Graven has received tuition reimbursement through Absolute Machine Tools, the program’s community college tuition rates for the four-year degree make it among the most affordable in the state.
Given LCCC’s ongoing relationships with industry, Zunis is confident that as employer needs evolve, so will curricula.
“The LCCC is always reaching out to the community to make sure they are doing what they need,” Zunes said. “This is the community college.”
Spring registration is open for the Bachelor of Applied Science in Intelligent Industrial Robotic Systems Engineering Technology program with classes beginning January 17, 2023.
#Absolute #Machine #Tools #turns #LCCC #automation #robotics #training #Morning #Journal