Modern Notion of Manufacturing
Manufacturing systems have changed over recent history. The big first step of manufacturing was mechanization. Human power replaced machines, allowing for more production in less time.
The following industrial revolution brought mass production, supported by electric power systems. As a result, large quantities were produced with the same labor, resulting in cost savings. The third wave of the industrial revolution was ushered in by later digitalization and powerful computer-assisted technology. In terms of modernity, that was a significant turning point. Mass production combined with digitalization made it easier to do quality checks; sustain and monitor productivity.
Finally, the fourth wave brought together human abilities with robots. The production can be controlled with computers while assisted by humans in the end. It can be done with either fully automated systems, robots, or human-robot collaboration known as cobots. This last wave of manufacturing enables companies to benefit from artificial intelligence and get the creative parts of human work. Therefore, this unique combination moves production systems and industry into another evolutionary step.
In the modern notion of manufacturing, success is not only determined by monetary terms but also by growth rates, quality of work, consumer loyalty and retention, efficiency, productivity, and many more. Therefore, companies must have distinctive strategies to succeed in such a dynamic environment where success includes multiple requirements. One of these necessities is highly skilled workers. In many fields of modern manufacturing, skilled workers are in high demand. Especially for the industries that require craftsmanship, it becomes enormously critical such as the welding industry.
What is welding?
The electrical or flame-heated technique of melting and uniting metal components is known as welding. Welders are indeed expected to be involved in the process from beginning to end. To begin with, they must plan layout and procedures, take measurements, and determine which equipment and methods to use based on the needs. They will then be expected to perform actual welding, including assembling components, repairing holes, and cutting materials using special welding equipment, repairing machines, inspecting surfaces and structures, and protecting equipment. It gets more challenging to maintain consistency as tasks become more repetitive.
Moreover, considering welding involves the intensive use of gases or electricity to process metal surfaces, safety is always a significant concern. As a result, the welding industry is looking for highly skilled welders to assure quality and fulfill the evolving demand. Operators need to have physical skills, math skills, and be detail-oriented. There is no doubt that humans can perform all of them, but can it be done more efficiently?
What does the welding industry need?
The answer is clearly yes! Thanks to modern technology that enables us to do it efficiently with cobots. In simple terms, cobots, or collaborative robots, are human-robot teamwork. Unlike robots, cobots are designed to collaborate with humans and assist them with advanced programmed systems. This technology brings operators with robots and allows them to work in harmony!
Welding cobots are having a big impact on welding as a whole. The welding industry has repetitive tasks and creates a dangerous environment, leading to hazardous results for operators. Unfortunately, a significant number of welders are injured at work each year. Many of them return to work after treatment, while others face long-term consequences or even death. Working in welding for a long time can also cause life-altering health problems for welders.
The welding tasks are frequently repeated. As a result, after long hours of work, welder productivity will be decreased, and quality will be difficult to maintain. The welding industry needs these two essential requirements to be satisfied: consistency and safety. Welding cobots deliver solutions to meet the welding industry’s demands. Cobot welding refers to the process where welders work with cobots through intuitively guided programming. However, the question remains as to how the welding cobots will meet these industry objectives. What advantages does a welding cobot have over manual welding?
Consistency in Broader Terms
The first answer is about consistency. Manual welding is not fully capable of assuring consistency. Yet, the welding industry needs consistency of the welder’s work. And here, consistency needs to be applied in different areas. For example, companies need to have consistency in the welder’s performance. However, in manual welding, a welder will be less productive after long hours of work.
The welding cobot, on the other hand, will produce the same amount of output over time. Unlike humans, whose productivity drops over time, welding cobots will continue to work at a constant level if they are connected to a power source and programmed. It will perform the same amount of work according to what has been programmed for the task, regardless of how long it runs or how difficult it is.
Companies also require the same quality in all their work and consistency in output level. Due to long working hours, the welder’s welding quality will decrease eventually. For welding cobots, they will do the same quality of work based on commands given by the welder!
And finally, welding requires patterns that need to be the same at the end of each work. It might be hard to go over and over the complicated pattern with the same result in manual welding. Perhaps, highly skilled workers can deal with it in a considerable amount of time, but eventually, the quality will drop. The welding cobot will keep welding the exact same weaving pattern for as long as needed without any drop in quality over time.
Is safe welding possible?
The second aspect that a welding cobot solves, is safety. For a welder, success is not just about the quality of work but also about staying safe while working. Some different methods are used during welding performance; however, each contains many health risks bounded.
The most common welding injury is respiratory injuries from toxic fume inhalation. Welders inhale toxic metals and fumes during welding. European Agency for Safety and Health at Work reported severe health problems among welders due to exposure to gases and nanoparticles. These health problems might end up as lung diseases, chronic bronchitis, asthma, or even lung cancer. All these health problems are lifelong and make life harder for welders afterward.
Another common health problem is eye injuries. Unfortunately, these types of injuries happen so quickly and have painful consequences for the welders. Although doctors can mostly cure it with some medicine after a few days, it causes immense pain for the welder.
Electrocution injuries are not seen commonly. However, it is worth mentioning as it has one of the most hazardous results. While working with high voltage, this type of injury may happen. Depending on the degree, welders may experience paralysis, which can be lifelong, or heart attack.
There are other risks that welding has, such as burns, radiation exposure, and hearing loss. In addition, each year, welders face hazardous results from welding. According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), more than half a million workers in the United States are at risk of welding-related injuries.
Is there a solution for welders to be safer while remaining highly operational?
Just “hire” a welding cobot, it will be the simplest! Cobot welding does not require the welder to be close to the surface while actual welding is happening. They can step behind far from gases and other nanoparticles. As a result, they will be considerably less likely to experience toxic material inhalation, burn, or other welding-related injuries. They will benefit for the rest of their lives if they do not breathe close to the machine while welding; they will be free of diseases from exposure to gases and nanoparticles.
Overall, a welding cobot can help your company enhance its consistency and safety. Long working hours will reduce the productivity of workers as well as quality. Manual welding causes major injury risks for the workers.
Welding with a cobot is less dangerous and more approachable for the welder. Also, in cobot welding, the jobs are more varied, and the risk to the welder is lower. Nevertheless, these are not the only advantages of a welding cobot.
A welding cobot features plenty of other advantages that can help you take your business to the next level!
Learn how cobot welding can help you grow your business by reading our article about how cobot welding can help companies overcome the welder shortage.