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Tyson foods TMAC Exterior.jpg Tyson Foods Inc.

Tyson's new facility to develop automation, robotics

Robotics, automation and vision technology to help make food production plant jobs easier and more efficient.

Tyson Foods Inc. has created a new state-of-the-art facility designed to help the company develop more automation and robotics for its food production plants.

The Tyson Manufacturing Automation Center (TMAC) officially opened in downtown Springdale, Ark. The center provides space for the development of new manufacturing solutions and collaboration with the company’s information technology team and equipment suppliers. It also serves as a location for team member training on new technology, Tyson said.

The investment is part of Tyson's focus on continuous improvement. The development of new technology and processes will help improve efficiency and workplace safety, it said.

“Innovation has been a fundamental part of our success for almost 85 years,” Tyson president and chief executive officer Noel White said. “This facility represents our commitment to creating the next generation of manufacturing solutions through advanced automation, robotics and machine learning.”

The two-story, 26,000 sq. ft. facility features four main areas: a machine vision technology lab, a lab that simulates a food production environment, training classrooms and space for team members to train in automation and robotics technology.

Tyson said the center is in a building that was previously used to service vehicles for its poultry business. Reclaimed wood from the company’s original headquarters was used in the renovated building.

Tyson has invested more than $215 million in automation and robotics in the last five years.

“The key to TMAC’s success will be the collaboration of world-class talent bringing expertise from all aspects of processing,” Doug Foreman, Tyson director of engineering, said. “Their skills and the resources within this facility will allow us to create solutions that will make a difference in the lives of our team members and create value for our business.”

Foreman will manage the day-to-day operations of TMAC with assistance from Marty Linn, who spent 34 years at General Motors, 18 of those as the principal engineer of robotics and the manager of advanced automation.

“The creation of the Tyson Manufacturing Automation Center is a key enabler for the company to collaborate and bridge the suppliers in the automation industry with their production facilities,” said Jeff Burnstein, president of the Association for Advancing Automation. “Tyson Foods’ drive to implement robotic and machine vision automation technologies will help them be more competitive on a global scale, provide a safer environment for their team members and more efficiently provide safe, quality food to people around the world.”

Tyson said it will also engage with local schools participating in robotics competitions to further drive awareness and the importance of educational opportunities in areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

TMAC’s first collaboration is with Springdale’s Don Tyson School of Innovation, a technology-rich STEM school. It embraces flexible and blended learning, allowing for a fast-paced and project-based learning environment that promotes student success.

The Don Tyson School of Innovation’s robotics team will travel to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Oct. 24-27 to compete in the FIRST Global Challenge. The annual, international, Olympics-style robotics event brings together youth from around the world to share in their passion for STEM.

The company announced a $15,000 gift to help offset travel costs and ensure that the entire team can participate in the competition.

TMAC marks the third major development project Tyson has completed in downtown Springdale since 2015. In July 2016, the company opened a 28,000 sq. ft. facility on Emma Ave. named the Tyson Foods JTL Building, which houses the Tyson Company Store and approximately 75 team members. In November 2017, it opened a 56,000 sq. ft. building -- also on Emma Ave. -- named Tyson Emma, which houses approximately 300 information technology team members.

In 2015, Tyson presented a $1 million check to the Downtown Springdale Alliance to support the organization’s effort to develop infrastructure and green space in the area.

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