What is Mechatronics? By reading this article, either you are looking for a definition of Mechatronics or, like me, you are interested in the latest paradigm used in the teaching of industrial maintenance technology curriculums. Either way, I hope you find this Mechatronics Technology article useful.
Mechatronics has become a major player in many manufacturing processes. Mechatronics is the integration of the Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Computer Engineering fields of study. These disciplines combine and work together in the planning, commissioning, operation, maintenance and repair of computer controlled manufacturing processes. I believe the study of Mechatronics will increase because of the high rate of automated processes being put into place in manufacturing facilities. Due to this increase in automated systems, there is sure to be an increasing demand for qualified workers, technicians and engineers in the field of Mechatronics Technology. As a result, a large number of vocational and engineering schools have introduced a Mechatronics curriculum in the past couple of years.
A Mechatronics system is a “smart system”. A smart system is a process that is monitored by various sensors which feed data to a Programmable Logic Controller which in turn uses a program to make decisions about what actuators to activate. This is called a “closed loop system”. You can use driving your car as an analogy. Your brain is the Programmable Logic Controller (PLC), your decisions about speed, acceleration, braking, turning, etc. is the program and your eyes and ears are the sensors feeding data to your brain which in turn uses this input data to make decisions about what actuators, your feet for acceleration or braking for example, to activate.
Since an automated manufacturing process uses mechanical actuators, digital electronic sensors and a PLC (basically a computer), it goes without saying that skilled workers will be needed to operate and maintain these automated systems. Someone who desires to work with an automated system would do well to start out by studying a Mechatronics curriculum. The student will need to choose a program of study that includes training in mechanical actuators to include both pneumatic and hydraulic systems, digital electronics such as sensors and systems interfacing and Programmable Logic Controllers.
Even though it is very important to learn all aspects of each of the Mechatronics subject areas, I feel that you cannot spend too much time in the PLC area. Just about all potential employers are looking for graduates with a solid foundation in PLC’s. The program of study will also contain robot training, both computer based and programming a real robot. Spend some time doing a little research before picking a Mechatronics school to attend and I am sure you will do well.