Phase 3 of the Alabama Robotics Technology Park, a proposed $10 million project, remains on the table, even though its official announcement was delayed last week.
State Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, said Gov. Robert Bentley’s postponed announcement last week was because of scheduling conflicts. Orr told the park’s executive board this week the state Economic Incentive Fund committee has not met to approve $7 million for the project. Bentley also was busy campaigning for Tuesday’s Republican primary race, which he won.
The state’s Capital Improvement Trust Fund commission approved a $3 million appropriation last August to fund engineering and architectural drawings for the third phase. This will allow construction to begin almost immediately.
“We’re ready to leave the train station,” Orr said. “It’s just a matter of scheduling an announcement.”
An announcement has not been rescheduled. Phase 3 is planned to be a 50,000-square-foot facility.
Rick Maroney, project manager for the Alabama Industrial Development and Training Institute, said half of the building will be for training for robotics painting and more.
“They will learn to apply paint, sealer, glue and other kinds of adhesive,” Maroney said.
Interim park Executive Director Bob Parsons said students will learn a virtual spray-painting program similar to the virtual welding program Calhoun Community College uses.
They will have to learn to use a manual sprayer, so the building will have an area that requires a ventilation system. Students will need the safety gear and masks necessary for spraying.
“This won’t be a collision repairs class, but they will learn to manually spray-paint vehicles,” Parsons said.
The other 25,000 square feet will be an open, high-bay area. While the second phase is a research and development facility, the third phase is for integration of existing technology.
Maroney said a company can use the area to set up and train before moving the robotics technology to its plant.
“This allows them to save time and money by reducing the amount of plant shutdown time,” he said.
©2014 The Decatur Daily (Decatur, Ala.)