Technologies in the Lab


During the summer of 2009, The Sower Business Technology Lab received $145,000 for an upgrade. As a result, new equipment and technologies were added to the lab. The OM faculty recieved training on all of the technologies. Following are all of the technologies that are currently housed in the Sower Business Technology Lab. The lab has also benefited from contributions made by former students, faculty, and companies through monetary and in kind donations.



Mentor (Photo on Right) was the first technology in the lab. Mentor has been in the lab since 1992. This robot under went a major rebuild in 2006. The rebuilding was funded primarily by faculty members and former students (Contributors). Mentor has been used in work cell demonstrations for undergraduate and graduate courses over the years.



Thanks to the generosity of a variety of donors--many of whom are alumni who worked with Mentor when they were students--we raised over $33,000 which we used to upgrade Mentor and to purchase a companion robot, SCARA, and some new RFID equipment. SCARA is a combination servo/pneumatic robot which the Fall 2007 MGT 560 class commissioned and programmed.
Several Technologies are integrated to create a line balancing simulation for undergraduate classes. Both Mentor and Serpent are used in this simulation. Mentor is used with the conveyor belt and gauges for quality control and Serpent is used to sort items. The simulation also incorporates barcode readers and RFID as well as the digital scale.
mentor 2

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

We have incorporated RFID technology into our research and teaching, and we set up a simulated distribution center in the lab to illustrate the benefits of using RFID in warehouse applications to our students.

Using a simple web program running on the server and accessible from multiple workstations, we are able to simulate the distribution of our "products" (actually, Lego toys with barcodes and RFID labels on them). We are able to manage inventory items, enter orders, and print pick lists using the web program. Then students can use handheld devices to fill pick lists.
barcode reader
Simulations are run using barcodes and using RFID to show the incremental advantages of each technology. Finally, shipments are verfied using a portal with red and green lights that will indicate if the items are correct.
The lab's inventory of Auto ID equipment includes 2 handheld RFID readers (one with GPS capability), 2 RFID printer/ encoders, a barcode printer, an Omron compliance system, a wireless barcode reader and several wired barcode readers. The lab also includes a docking station with Alien RFID equipment.
handheld unit
printer encoder
3-D printer

3-Dimensional Printing

We have a uPrint three dimensional printer that has the capability of creating solid objects out of ABS plastic from a file. These objects can even have moveable parts. All of the parts are "printed" in place.

picture 1picutre 2
We also added a three dimensional scanner to give us the capability to create three dimensional digital files from actual objects. These files could then be used in the three dimensional printer to make a copy of an actual solid object
K. Li
digital scale


Metrology equipment in the lab includes a digital scale, calipers, digital height gauges, handheld computers, and a printer.


Other simulations are used to demonstrate how RFID technology works. One or our favorite ways to illustrate how it works is to set up RFID antennas on campus and have students throw frisbees past the antennas.

Of course, we still have the two robots that have been in the lab from the early days. We also have metrology equipment and other items that can be used to illustrate OM concepts. The technologies in the lab are truly a valuable resource to our students, and they allow us to give hands-on experience for many important topics.