AIDT announces comprehensive upgrades to Alabama Robotic Technologies Park to stay at cutting edge of workforce development
TANNER — Alabama Industrial Development Training (AIDT) joined with local leaders Tuesday to announce a comprehensive advancement of the Robotic Technologies Park (RTP) in south Limestone County.
The upgrades, which AIDT Director Ed Castile labeled “RTP 2.0,” are aimed at making sure Alabama remains able to meet the demands of modern manufacturers.
The RTP is a facility that trains Alabama workers for modern industrial jobs. It is a partnership between the Alabama Community College System and AIDT, and robotics industry leaders. AIDT is an independent agency housed within the Alabama Department of Commerce.
The three main speakers at the event were AIDT Director Ed Castile, State Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) and North Alabama Industrial Development Association President Brooks Kracke.
All three speakers brought up the necessity for Alabama workers to be prepared for jobs during what is referred to as “Industry 4.0.” Industry 4.0 is the common term for what economic observers see as the fourth industrial revolution.
AIDT has identified “automation & robotics, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, virtual reality, data analytics and 3d printing” as elements of Industry 4.0 that will make an impact in Alabama.
According to Castile, their goal is to “help us help our manufacturers enter the manufacturing future.” The AIDT director says he and his team went to every manufacturer they could and asked – “What do you see? What is coming?” – and they based the new upgrades to RTP based on the responses they received.
“With all that’s going with these companies, whether its missile defense, aerospace or automotive. … The technology they’re building into their products, the various materials and tooling involved. We have to have our workforce ready to work in that environment” Castile added in regards to where RPT 2.0 workers would be placed.
Castile said that in factories “the technology is changing as fast as whats in our phones is changing.”
“Too many times across state government we start something, then we allow it to get stale and less effective,” Orr warned in his speech before saying how glad he was that Ed Castile and the AIDT team had not let that happen to the Robotic Technologies Park.
“Senator Orr truly is the champion of economic development and workforce development,” remarked Castile.
Brooks Kracke, a widely respected figure in North Alabama economic development, said “This center helps us tremendously. … We now have a facility in place, a training program in place, that can help Mazda-Toyota, and help other companies come in.”
“We have companies in Alabama that make state of the art, world-class products” mentioned Kracke. “This issue we have is to keep training our people.”
Janette Hostettler, Mazda-Toyota Manufacturing’s vice president of production, confirmed to Yellowhammer News that the facility provides a significant benefit to the MTM factory.
She told Yellowhammer that RPT 2.0 “takes us to the next level in terms of digital, and virtual, for example, we’ll be doing virtual reality training for our maintenance members.”
“We won’t have our robots installed until the middle of next year, so it gets us ahead of the curve,” said Hostettler. “They’ll be able to go into a virtual training module … we hope they’ll get more efficient and more knowledgeable before we even have a product.”
“I’m really excited about it,” she added.
Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.