CHENNAI: A machine to skill-up humans in the age of robotic automation. That is the idea behind Chennaibased startup Skillveri Training Solutions, which is transforming shop floors of top industrial houses such as TVS, Murugappa Group and Ashok Leyland by turning novices into experts in manufacturing processes like welding. It is a rectangular box containing a computer and fronted by a touchscreen. A sensor-embedded welding torch hovers over the touchscreen, sends inputs to the computer on the holding angle, deviation, and distance from the screen.This creates appropriate visual effects such as intermittent sparks if it’s kept too far and a steady shower if done right. The system also lets out sounds based on touchscreen sensors, which also measures the speed of welding. The machine can train and assess 300 people a year and costs between Rs 8 lakh and Rs 14 lakh. Although it doesn’t beat the real welding experience, it can cut training costs involved in welding, which will require Rs ..
The inventors, after showing their prototypes to shop floor managers, have made the interface simpler.
“There are alternatives one can import, but the price is much higher and they are difficult to use for a non-matriculate you need to select 20 options before putting the torch on the screen. It (Skillveri’s device) does not need any consumables, or even a trainer. It’s LearnIt-Yourself,” said Sabarinath C Nair, co-founder and chief executive of the two-year-old company.
A 32-year-old computer science graduate with a disposition to build things than code, he had bounced off the simulator idea with Kannan Lakshminarayan, his boss at Vortex Engineering and a serial entrepreneur. With Lakshminarayan on board as founder-director and IIT-Madras professor Ashok Jhunjhunwala mentoring, Nair had begun work on the prototype in 2012, but successive iterations had pushed the product into April 2014.
The company has done 20 installations, after testing it out at IIT-Madras with about 500 students.
“The accent on manufacturing is so apparent with the Make in India campaign that companies such as Skillveri are bound to come along,” said Raman Kumar, chairman of Ador Welding Academy, a sister company of Ador Welding.
The academy bundles Skillveri’s product with its training curricu lum to offer courses in welding, which are lapped up by corporates looking to partner for social responsibility spending. Names such as ICICI Foundation and Ambuja Cement Foundation have partnered with the Ador academy for rolling out welding training programmes for which Skillveri’s simulator will do the hand-holding.
Gas metal arc welding, a widelyused metal fusion technique in automotive, shipbuilding and aviation industries, is the method of choice in Skillveri’s simulator.