Table of contents
- What is Robotic welding?
- Benefits of welding automation via robotic welding
- Cobots vs industrial robots
- Robotic Welding Cobot Use Cases
- Let us help you
What is robotic welding?
First, welding is the important phase of any form of assembly. This process ensures that all metallic parts of the product are joined. Robotic welding is the automated process of welding that can enable many benefits to a business that integrates one or many of them in their production process. The welding process of a robotic welder makes use of a robot to perform the weld. A robotic welding system can have the ability to do several different types of welds if the equipment is available and compatible.
Robotic welding is another step in advancing automated welding where welders control and supervise the welding (process). A trained welder can pre-program a weld path and type to their robotic welder to perform welds for their projects.
Robotic welding’s important component aside from all the hardware components is its software and how easily it can be programmed with that software.
Benefits of welding automation via robotic welding
1. Increased Productivity
A robotic welder can operate continuously, maintaining the same speed, rate, and weld paths over and over.
Yields can increase as you batch the welding process. Instead of having welders work 8 hours or 12 hours, have the automated welding setup with a robotic welder work through the later hours for a batch of welds. This can be achieved when a system is in place to move parts through with repeatable part placements and routines set for the robotic welder. This is streamlining your production process allowing for increased production.
Automating some processes will reduce the time from customer order to product delivery, allowing your company to become more competitive
2. Consistent High-Quality Welds
Many industries are moving toward automation so that they can focus on more technical or complex tasks. For businesses that are looking into improving weld quality, you’re not the only one thinking of getting a robotic welder. Systemizing a welding process with a robotic welder requires planning but there are immense benefits.
Different robot arms have different tolerances, and you have to consider your specifications to ensure your welds are within the precision you want them to be. Using a robot to automate your welds allows them to be consistent. It can take a project that has a large number of repetitive welds and batch them into a whole automated weld process through a welding cell. A robotic welding cell, also referred to as the robotic welding unit is made up of several components that (work together) to complete a welded structure. Such control and repetition can be done on pre-planned programming that operates the robotic welding system.
3. Efficiency and versatility
Reprogram the robot to do different welds each time a project is completed so that you don’t have to continue reprogramming. Once you complete a batch process, replan, set up your system, and modify the program to weld for a different project.
The welding team can focus on higher-level challenges while robotic welders work on the more dangerous and/or repetitive tasks.
The capital expenses include the equipment, testing, and training of your welding team to operate the robotic system. You’ll need to plan out how you will be automating the welding process. Consider analyzing the current welding production operating costs and whether your current equipment is compatible with the robotic system. This all ties into safety and not having safety measures has major costs.
Even though robotic welders can create a safer environment, there can be some other dangers outside of welding involving robots, and precautions, training, and some advisory knowledge need to be known and aware of.
There are safety measures placed on the robotic welder. Still, there should be some training and precautions to be aware of to ensure maximum safety when working with a robot or when robots are working with other robots. You do not want equipment hitting each other leading to costs for repairs. You’re not trying to make a battle bots arena out of your expensive equipment.
5. A reduction in operating costs
Labor costs are rising but robotics prices are decreasing from when they were decades ago. There is a significant upfront cost to obtaining a robotic welder in addition to the necessary accessories, training of staff, and testing.
For small to medium manufacturers, you probably have requests to do projects at certain capacities, and you wonder whether your team can do them or whether your team would want to do them.
Some projects may come with complications because of the type of welds to be done or the amount of work to be done over a period of time and they could eventually get sick of it going at it day in and day out.
A combination of robotic welding and building up the skills of your manufacturing team can help you take on such projects. Customers will love you; you’ll know your team can handle it, and your team will love you. Satisfied staff members will have less overtime because of the capability of automating the process, meaning that your automated workflow can finish up the work.
6. Reduction of Waste and Rework
Filler material and weld wire are used more economically, and less wastefully, with robotic welding thereby reducing the overall cost to produce a product.
Over-welding will be a thing of the past. Robots will use precisely what it is programmed to use in terms of fill rate and welding speed. It will stay to within specifications and prevent over-welding and therefore waste of resources.
Cobots vs industrial robots
Which type of robotic welders is right for your business? It really depends on how your business operates and its needs. Take a look at the table below for a quick comparison:
|Collaborative robotic welder||Industrial robotic welder|
|Can be programmed without much training||Complex coding usually required to program it|
|Customized products close to customer demands||High volume production with repetitive tasks|
|Meet customer requirements with greater product variety in smaller batches||High volume manufacturing of the same products in large batches|
|Minimized up-front cost through quick in-house integration and ease-of-use||Requires a large upfront cost for a system integrator and operator training|
|Smaller footprint to floor real estate||Larger footprint to floor real estate in addition to greater safety requirements|
Read more about the benefits of cobot welding in our article the looks more at that specific topic here.
Robotic Welding Cobot Use Cases
We can help you turn your welding process into a supervised automated welding process that can help increase any of those metrics above with your current labor force and some additional training in the usage of our robotic welding system.
Many companies worldwide have faced the difficulty of finding new qualified welders to hire and even more so, retaining such talent. Summarizing our case study with Vattholma Mekano AB, we were able to help them with welding large repair work that was repetitive and time-consuming by providing them with an automated welding solution that solved their issue of having work available but a shortage of welders.
Robotic welding and robotic automation in general are not here to replace humans. They are here to aid in working collaboratively with humans by taking over the aspects that are dangerous and require acute attention for your welding specialists so that they can spend their time on higher-level tasks for their project rather than doing repetitive tasks. Planning work for a project can be better maintained and documented.
There is no one size fits all type of process for every job and every manufacturer, however, streamlining operations and finding the right balance between production methods should be a focus, and automation via robotic welding can help with streamlining such operations involved in production facilities.
The transformative benefits of automating your welding process primarily are an increase in productivity, consistent quality, and a reduction in overall operational costs.
On a bigger picture, strategic planning for projects will be what your team will be focused on, accepting projects based on requirements, and letting your customers know whether you’ll be able to fulfill demand within an acceptable period of time. Thereby giving you happy, satisfied customers and greater business. All because you know you can turn your production process into an automated one if done right.
If you have a large enough space, then creating a workflow for getting the welds done would be completely automated. You can go from an 8-12 hour work day to 24 hour work day of supervised automation. If not, then at least you have an increased quality of work and a less fatigued team of welders.
Let us help you
Have you ever wondered if your small to medium-sized production company can increase its productivity, improve performance, reduce costs, and scale up its operations while retaining your current labor force?
At Smooth Robotics we work solely on making robotic welding easy and accessible for businesses that look to optimize their welding. Our SmoothTool welding kit for Universal Robots is a UR+ certified cobot welding solution that pairs an intuitive user experience with extreme flexibility when it comes to integration options.
Automated welding systems will increase production, cut down cycle times, and net you quality products. If you’re a small to medium production business that can use robotic welders or have some curiosity about these systems, contact us to learn more about how we can help provide solutions.