Automation Alley Opens $10.5M Innovation Lab at Oakland University


Troy-based Automation Alley, a non-profit technology business accelerator, today showed off a $10.5 million laboratory designed for product demonstrations at its technology center on the campus of Oakland University in Rochester Hills.

"Our focus is not only on advanced manufacturing, but how to maximize the traditional manufacturing process," says Alex Violassi, director of the technology center. "In other words, how we can apply the coupling of traditional manufacturing with advanced manufacturing to further spur innovation, obviously helping southeast Michigan manufacturers to be more competitive."

At 1,500 square feet, the Innovation Lab will provide product demonstrations for new technologies used in the product concept, testing and validation, manufacturing, simulation, and service and disposal stages of manufacturing.

Automation Alley's training center, which opened last February in OU Inc., a business accelerator that provides resources for startups, will work with the Innovation Lab to provide training in product lifecycle management; modeling, simulation, and visualization; and digital manufacturing. 

"Our new lab was really created to support our current training efforts, but, more importantly, to expose our members to some of the emerging advanced manufacturing technologies that you may already be reading about, as well as future technologies that aren't even on our radars yet," Violassi says. 

Products from companies such as Wenzel, Delray, Makerbot, and more will showcase 3-D printing and scanning, collaborative robotics, design and modeling, computer aided analysis, data management, and manufacturing analytics in the lab.

"Our Innovation Lab is always in motion, and we will continue to involve," Violassi says.

The lab will also allow students at Oakland University to work in a collaborative effort for various projects, such as coding Baxter, Automation Alley's robot from Data Speed, which is able to perform low volume, high mix production jobs.