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Olympus Games at Olympus Controls

Alexandre Pare
by Alexandre Pare. Last updated on Jan 04, 2016 12:24 PM
Posted on Dec 24, 2015 7:00 AM. 3 min read time

From December 9th to December 11th, I was lucky to visit Olympus Controls head offices in Tualatin, Oregon. Olympus Controls is one of Robotiq's partners in the western USA. Our 3-day visit happened to coincide with Olympus's Christmas event called the Olympus Games. Do you remember the years in college where you spent day and night finishing projects? Well this is sort of what happened at these games!


When asked about how the idea of the Olympus games started, Silas Robertson, VP of sales and Marketing at Olympus, helped me discover that it started about 5 years ago with only 1 or 2 teams competing. Over the years, the event grew and this year 6 teams were competing and each of them had a different challenge. How the games work is really simple. Olympus employees form different teams composed of tech support staff, administration, suppliers, engineering and so on. Once the teams are formed, each team is given a set of requirements for their project. Basically, each team must use different products from Olympus' linecard. Seriously, there is no better way to train on these products than the hands-on experience gained during the games. By looking at the skills of the people involved in the competition, there was no surprise for me to see why Olympus Controls and their customers develop such a strong relationship. IMG_0504.jpg

The projects varied so much from team to team. Some teams were using Adept scara robots along with an electric linear actuator from Parker  and made automatic loading/unloading CNCs! Others used the Adept Mobile robot and had the robot move around to do some RFID Inventory checks. Our team's challenge was to use 2 Universal Robots, 1 Natchi robot and a Parker linear actuator to perform an assembly task. Because all team members had their Christmas spirit full on, we decided to assemble a Christmas tree Lego ornament. The concept was that the UR5 would assemble the Legos to make the tree, the UR3 would then assemble the Legos for the gifts to be set under the tree, the linear actuator had to carry both assemblies to a human operated station where the human would assemble the Christmas ornament. Once done the human would place the ball in a special holder where a Sick proximity sensor would signal the presence of the ball to the UR5. The UR5 then grabbed the ball and placed it on the Natchi to display the final product!

It was some crazy, exhilarating 48 hours of programming and hardware setup to make this project work. The result was surprising. Thanks a lot to the easy programming of Universal Robots and Robotiq Grippers, which enabled us to get started on path and grasping techniques right from the start. The time saved there was used to program the linear motor, the Natchi robot, and some fancy moves. After successfully trying some harder picks, we could now enjoy a nice team outing for diner! This is always good for the team spirit!

The main goal of the games, of course, is to make your project work, but more importantly to have fun and learn stuff! So based on this I would say that the games were a great success. I really recommend this approach to fellow companies involved in technology. It really builds team spirit and it is one of the best training sessions I have ever experienced. People used each other's knowledge on the different components so everyone was a winner at the end of the day!


Enjoy my homemade iPhone video of the tree assembly by the UR5!


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Alexandre Pare
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