The latest in industrial robots has arrived in Adelaide, with a clever 19kg ‘worker’ called Sawyer reaching out to innovative local companies to pave the way to advance manufacturing in South Australia.


Sawyer, the next-generation smart collaborative robot designed by US company Rethink Robotics, has been purchased by southern surburbs manufacturer REDARC as a demonstration and training model at Flinders at Tonsley at the former Mitsubishi innovation precinct.


Its 1260mm sensor-loaded arms are designed to accurately conduct sometimes difficult or dirty repetitive work in a tight space similar to one human working space.


Sawyer joins Baxter at the robotics lab at Flinders at Tonsley as one of the first education models installed in southern Australia from the world-leading Rethink Robotics founded by Flinders University graduate, robotics expert Professor Rodney Brooks.


The collaborative robots are designed to be programmed to conduct work safely next to people in factories on often repetitive, dirty or more dangerous production.


Sawyer’s main market will be in China and other countries with high demand and shortages of some production workers.


Here in Australia its capabilities provide valuable insights for advanced manufacturers to investigate new technologies and innovation, says REDARC managing director Anthony Kittel.


“Manufacturing is not dead in South Australia,” says REDARC managing director Anthony Kittel, who is a board member of Flinders University’s School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics based at Tonsley.


“As an advanced manufacturer, we invest significant sales revenue back into research and development and staff training to drive growth and reach new customers with high-quality products and new capability.


Mr Kittel says REDARC staff will gain valuable insights into ‘smarter’ Sawyer robotic technology to assess continuous improvement opportunities for business efficiencies.


Community alliances, including sponsorships and strategic projects with Adelaide’s tertiary sector, is also key.


“Strategic cooperation between industry and universities will provide SA with a talent pool of scientists, engineers and workers with expertise in manufacturing disciplines to adopt emerging technologies and support innovation in a competitive marketplace,” he says.   


“Our future success relies on leveraging talent from our universities, and Sawyer and older Baxter robots provide important resources for research, learning and innovation.”