How Essential Skills Profiles can help you!
The essential skills profiles can:
- Help determine, based on skill sets, which career may best suit a particular individual.
- Assist job seekers to write a résumé or prepare for a job interview.
- Help employers to create a job posting.
Employers place a strong emphasis on essential skills in the workplace. Essential skills are used in nearly every occupation, and are seen as 'building blocks' because people build on them to learn all other skills.
Each profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skill is generally performed by the majority of workers in an occupation. The estimated complexity levels for each task, between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced), may vary based on the requirements of the workplace.
Robotics technicians and technologists
This profile has been developed by Skills Compétences Canada.
Mechatronics and robotics is the integration of mechanical, electrical, electronics, and control and computer engineering. Robotics technicians and technologists use computers and electronics to control mechanical systems. They work in areas such as machine assembly, troubleshooting and testing, systems integration, application support, maintenance, component testing and assembly, automation programming, robotic maintenance and programming, quality control, and technical sales and services.
- Read labels on equipment and parts for instructions. (1)
- Read emails from co-workers, colleagues and clients to review project specifications, instructions and company policies. (2)
- Read online catalogues to locate and order products and tools. (2)
- Read data and technical sheets that summarize performance and technical characteristics of materials and parts. For example, to look for specific details about product performance or to compare different products and components for compatibility. (3)
- Read information from websites about new products and to research new technology or technical information. (3)
- Read process and procedure manuals and guides. For example, they read operating instructions and preventative maintenance procedures. They read installation guides that detail procedures for installing new equipment and components. (3)
- Read reports. For example, may read test cases when testing new products to understand how the product is supposed to function, to learn testing procedures and testing results and to gather information for analyzing problems. (3)
- Read articles in scientific journals, professional newsletters and other publications to keep up to date with trends and changes in technology. (3)
- Read textbooks, technical manuals and online forums to increase knowledge of automation processes, materials and components, and to keep skills up to date. (4)
- Read project documentation that range in length from a few pages to several hundred pages to learn about project specifications, such as material specifications. Specifications provide technical details, such as the scope of the work, the type of wiring to use, the method to run the equipment, or the sequence of operation. (4)
- Read regulations, standards and government legislation. For example, they read electrical codes, International Standards Organization (ISO) rules, Canadian Standards Association (CSA) standards, American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards, American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), and Occupational Health and Safety Acts to ensure newly developed or modified products meet regulatory requirements. (4)
- Scan labels on parts and packaging to identify product types and part numbers. (1)
- Locate information in change orders that describe what to do. (1)
- Locate and enter information in timesheets and schedules (often software programs). For example, they enter hours worked and time required to complete individual tasks, and identify work tasks and deadlines. (2)
- Enter and locate information on bills of materials, such as the materials, quantities and costs. (2)
- Locate information in requirement lists that detail what the equipment has to be able to handle, such as load capacities, cycle times, stroke, forces, materials, and temperatures to determine the size of parts. (2)
- Locate information in lists and tables in technical data sheets. For example, they determine if parts are suitable and fit the required specifications. They compare information to see if a part can be substituted. (3)
- Interpret graphs to ensure equipment is operating within tolerances and operating parameters. For example, analyze graphs depicting amount of air flow over time to determine the point during the cycle when the vacuum generator reaches maximum sucking power. (3)
- Interpret and create graphs to compare testing results. For example, use bar, line and scatter graphs, pie charts and Gantt Charts to compare present performance tests to earlier performance tests. (3)
- Refer to and interpret drawings (e.g. assembly, dimensional, exploded) and schematics (e.g. electrical, electronic, mechanical) to follow installation procedures, identify part names and numbers, locate measurements, or troubleshoot a system. Drawings are complex and detailed with multiple design elements. (4)
- Locate information in PLC (Programmable Logical Controller) programs and use ladder logic to program and troubleshoot. (4)
- May keep a notebook to record how problems were solved to use in future similar situations. They write notes during meetings and conversations with clients to keep track of details. (1)
- Write deficiency lists for retrofits which detail items that are incomplete, need upgrading or are deficient. They may determine timelines based on the deficiency list. (2)
- Write emails to co-workers, colleagues and clients to explain or to ask for information, and to update. They may use technical language and attach schematics and technical data. For example, they may be responding to an engineer asking for technical data, such as operating parameters about a specific part, or to a client asking if a part can be substituted under specific operating conditions. (3)
- Write specifications for drawings that detail the materials, equipment, and standards. For example, specifications identify end devices, control panels, control software, and system graphics. The specifications detail how these components will be assembled, installed, tested, and commissioned. They must be clear, concise and accurate. (3)
- May write production reports using a traditional format that includes costs, goals, explanations for non-conformance (NCR), and recommendations for improvements. (3)
- May write user manuals using a template that include step-by-step operating, maintenance and troubleshooting procedures. The information is detailed and written at a level that users will understand. For example, they write work procedures for workers operating the equipment. (3)
- May write proposals using an established format including project name and number, letter of introduction, detailed description of customer requirements and deliverables, costs and technical specifications, such as assembly description and functionality. (4)
- May write progress reports to track projects. For example, they describe progress, completed tasks, identify problems and how they were solved, and make recommendations. (4)
- Write testing reports that summarize completed tasks, describe the tests used and results of those tests, conclusions, concerns, and recommendations, such as recommending further testing cycles. (4)
Scheduling, Budgeting and Accounting
- May calculate expense claim amounts for travel expenses, such as car expenses and meals using established per diem rates for mileage and meals. (2)
Measurement and Calculation
- Schedule repair and maintenance service calls. (1)
- May prepare quotes detailing costs of materials and labour. (2)
- Take measurements and readings using basic measurement tools. For example, use measuring tapes to measure lengths in both SI (metric) and imperial measurement. (1)
- Use electrical and mechanical diagnostic tools. For example, they use multimeters to measure voltage, current and resistance, and oscilloscopes to measure amplitudes, test circuits and locate faults. (2)
- Convert between SI (metric) and imperial, such as millimetres to inches or feet, and pounds per square inch (psi) to bars or kilopascals (kPa). For example, customers may talk in imperial measurement but technical data is in SI. (2)
- Convert between different base numbers. For example, convert between hexadecimal (base 16) and octal (base 8) to see commonalities between controllers and sensors and determine how they are "talking" to each other. (3)
- Use electrical formulae to calculate voltage, resistance, current and power. (3)
- Use formulae (often software programs) to calculate. For example, area, volume, force, flow rates, speeds and feeds in both SI (metric) and imperial measurements. They may calculate force to determine the required cylinder size, or the torque required to close a valve. (3)
- Use PLC Ladder logic (truth tables) for troubleshooting or to develop software for PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers). (5)
- Compare data such as frequencies, speeds, temperatures and transfer rates to specifications and normal ranges. (1)
- Compare product measurements to specification limits to ensure products meet standards. (1)
- Analyze graphs. For example, analyze graphs depicting amount of air flow over time to determine the point during the cycle when the vacuum generator reaches maximum sucking power. (2)
- Compare test results. For example, compare test results of a piece of software to determine if bugs have been fixed. (3)
- Estimate times for completing tasks to meet deadlines. For example, estimate the time to complete maintenance and repairs, taking into consideration the availability of parts and the length of time to complete similar tasks. (2)
- Estimate quantities of materials needed for maintenance and repair, using past experience. (2)
- Speak with co-workers to ask for, provide, or clarify information. For example, may ask a co-worker for help with troubleshooting. (2)
- Speak with workers on shop floor or trades people. For example, ask questions to gather information about equipment malfunctions. (2)
- Speak with technical support to ask for information, help with troubleshooting and problem solving, or to clarify information. (2)
- Speak with suppliers to obtain technical information about equipment, parts and materials, such as electrical components. (2)
- Attend "lunch and learns" with co-workers and colleagues. For example, may present on a topic or be there to learn, such as using pivot tables in Excel or tricks for macro programming in Excel. They ask questions and share information. (2)
- Speak with clients regarding their needs and then communicate those needs to developers. (3)
- Speak with software developers. For example, when testing a product, they may confirm whether components are functioning properly or there is a bug in the software. (3)
- Attend meetings with team members. For example, launch meetings present the overview, goals, and deliverables for projects. They attend meetings to discuss assigned and completed tasks, assign new tasks, discuss concerns, and to brainstorm for new ideas or solutions to problems. For example, they may discuss the need for more testing because some parts of the system are not working as planned. (3)
- May be part of the team presenting a project to clients. For example, may be responsible for presenting the 3D models and electrical schematics. Must be able to respond to questions and present information in a way that is understood by the client. (3)
- Figure out how to meet customer requirements. For example, they find substitute components and parts for customers who request a part that is no longer available. They must be able to explain why the part can be substituted and how it will perform. (2)
- Replace, update or upgrade old systems. They must figure out what the original system could and could not handle and what the changes mean to the system as a whole. For example, may have to make other changes or modifications for a system to function correctly. (3)
- Figure out how to develop test cases for testing software based on the requirements. Have to determine if problems are in the software or hardware based on troubleshooting and testing. For more complex problems, will work with co-workers, software developers and others to come up with a solution. (3)
- Find that equipment is not functioning properly. They use troubleshooting skills to determine if a problem is mechanical, electrical or the computer controlling the process. They use trial and error to make modifications and adjustments to the equipment. They analyze results to identify possible sources of problems and consider multiple solutions. Technical knowledge and experience are required to effectively diagnose problems and come up with solutions. (4)
- Select suppliers, materials and components. For example, they decide when to substitute parts and components by comparing material specifications and performance, customer requirements and cost. (2)
- Decide how to respond to technical support questions and problems. For example, when a customer needs parts that are no longer available for an older product, they locate and explain options. Based on experience, knowledge and available time, they may decide to consult with or pass the customer to an engineer. (2)
- Decide when further testing is required and which tests to use based on test results and recommendations in test reports. (3)
Job Task Planning and Organizing
- Analyze, test and troubleshoot circuits with programmable logic devices (PLC) using techniques, such as ladder diagrams, to diagnose and repair faults. (3)
- Test products using test tools. There are multiple tests for each product. They establish a set of conditions or variables to determine whether the product meets requirements and standards including procedures for testing, review test results to determine if a product is operating to specifications, and may recommend further testing. (3)
- Complete full system tests of programming to ensure software meets the specifications and validate that established criteria have been met and steps have been taken to ensure proper operation. For example, they perform loop tuning to make sure set points for rooms and mechanical equipment are within specifications and mechanical equipment is not over cycled. (4)
Significant Use of Memory
- Responsible for organizing and prioritizing tasks to maximize efficiency and meet deadlines. They often work on several projects or are assigned several tasks at one time, which may lead to conflicting demands on their time and require them to reprioritize tasks. They co-ordinate tasks and schedules with other team members. They seek help from other team members. Some projects are more collaborative than others, such as research and development. Repairing and maintaining equipment requires fitting into the client's schedule.
- May assign tasks to others. With experience, they may take on the role of project lead.
- Remember codes, regulations, specifications, abbreviations and acronyms.
- Recall previous troubleshooting solutions.
- Recall codes, regulations and specifications that are applicable to specific projects.
- Contact suppliers and manufacturers to obtain technical data and other information. (1)
- Ask co-workers, project leaders, supervisors, engineers, and others for help with troubleshooting and problem solving. (2)
- Consult technical data and specifications lists, drawings and other reference documents for information. For example, tolerances, and operating conditions and parameters. They often combine information from several sources. (3)
- Refer to manuals, standards and regulations, trade journals and other materials to locate information. For example, they refer to equipment manuals for installation and troubleshooting information. (3)
- Use programmable calculators and online tools to make calculations, such as flow rates or force. For example, they use engineering software to calculate flow rates or the force on a gripper handle. (1)
- Use communications software. They use email to exchange messages and attached files, such as photos and drawings, with co-workers, colleagues and clients. (2)
- Use the internet. They use internet browsers to locate information and research new projects. They look up product information on supplier websites. (2)
- Access forums and blogs to exchange ideas, ask for troubleshooting assistance and to keep up to date. (2)
- Use graphics software. For example, they may use PowerPoint to develop slides for a presentation including graphs, pictures, tables and animations. (3)
- Use databases to manage information, and track quality control and test results. (3)
- Use spreadsheets, such as Excel. For example, they may monitor budgets or create schedules to track project timelines. They insert formulae. (3)
- Use word processing software. They write reports that include tables of contents, levels of headings, graphics, graphs, tables, and drawings. (3)
- May use statistical analysis software to analyze and compare data from testing. (3)
- Use computer assisted design and manufacturing software such as CAD Electrical. They use drafting and design software to create 2D and 3D drawings and schematics. (4)
- Use programming language, such as Ladder Logic to program PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers). (5)
Other Essential Skills:
Working with Others
Robotics technicians and technologists in large companies usually work as part of a team that may include engineers, other technicians and technologists, sales, production, and tradespeople (electricians, machinists, plumbers, welders). The size of the team depends on the size of the company and the size of the project. Each member of the team is assigned tasks, but team members often work collaboratively to solve problems. They may work alone to maintain and repair equipment, but often work with the client's staff, such as millwrights and electricians. Robotics technicians and technologists with more experience or seniority may assign tasks to other workers or take a more senior role on the team.
Robotics technicians and technologists are responsible for setting their own learning goals. They access online information, forums and blogs to stay up to date with trends, and evolving technology. The field is highly competitive and technology is always changing. They learn on the job and attend training offered in the workplace, such as "lunch and learns" on new and updated products. They take courses on topics such as PLC programming, and attend conferences and workshops. They may decide to complete a degree in engineering. Some companies encourage and support further training. They may or may not belong to professional associations, such as Applied Science Technologists & Technicians of British Columbia (ASTTBC).
Impact of Digital Technology
All essential skills are affected by the introduction of technology in the workplace. Robotics technicians and technologists' ability to adapt to new technologies is strongly related to their skill levels across the essential skills, including reading, writing, thinking and communication. Technologies are transforming the ways in which workers obtain, process and communicate information, and the types of skills needed to perform in their jobs. Change is occurring rapidly in the field of automation and robotics. Workers in this field will be at the forefront of manufacturing and development as manufacturers increasingly rely on automation technology to maintain a competitive edge in the global economy. In particular, Robotics technicians and technologists need enhanced digital technology skills to develop, design, build, maintain, troubleshoot and repair increasingly complex computer-controlled systems and robotic devices used in industrial and commercial facilities. As electronic technologies continue to advance, requirements for digital skills will increase.
Technology in the workplace further affects the complexity of tasks related to the essential skills required for this occupation. Robotics technicians and technologists need the skills to use increasingly complex schematics and diagrams for sophisticated electronic control systems. Workers need to be able to use, install and troubleshoot increasingly complex software applications.