The beam on the workshop floor seems endless. The back hurts already at the mere thought of having to weld in the same position for the next few hours. Take up position, put on, weld off, put down, slide forward. Unfortunately, it is unavoidable that over time the welding seam is not as good as it was at the beginning. Or maybe it can? Automated welding provides a remedy ... for poor weld seam quality of long, repetitive welding tasks, for welding errors, but also for monotonous and painful joints.
Less rework, reduced costs
Welding faults happen again and again in production. In every welding process. The probability that they occur more often is higher with increasing monotony and stress on the body. The longer a welder has to weld in a - often compulsive - position, the more this stress affects the result of the weld. The consequences are costly reworking, because the welder is blocked for the next job according to the effort involved. In addition, the visual appearance also suffers if welds have to be reworked with a brush, an angle grinder or even a gouging torch. Depending on the quality requirements, complaints can also arise.
Automated welding reduces the need for expensive reworking because welding errors are reduced to a minimum from the start. Furthermore, automated welding relieves the burden on the welder himself.
Automation: SMEs under pressure
The strong competition in the automated market is forcing companies to produce larger quantities at more and more favourable prices and in increasingly faster times. Many small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) are looking for solutions for their welding processes in order to withstand this constantly growing pressure. This also concerns those who previously only employed manual welders and have now reached a point where something has to change in the process. Automated welding offers a wide range of solutions and possibilities - on the one hand to relieve the welder and on the other hand to be able to meet the high quality requirements of the components.
However, not everyone sees automated welding in a positive light, as it is often placed in direct relation to a robot.
Take away fear of job loss
Every change is initially viewed with scepticism. If a manual welder is suddenly confronted with automated welding, the first reaction is usually rejection: "Am I going to be replaced now?" The introduction of automation in welding processes is often associated with fears for their job. Even if the company does not immediately invest in industrial robots or robotic systems because the batch sizes are still too small or the processes do not allow this, the fear of job loss is there. It is now in the hands of those responsible to turn these fears into conviction.
What is automated welding?
Automated welding does not mean that entire manual welding workstations are replaced by robot cells. Automated welding really means that the manual welder gets technical "helpers" to support him in his work. This could be a Cobot for welding, for example, which can be used to weld small and medium batch sizes with repetitive processes faster and more efficiently. This can be a mechanised torch guide, which is equipped with an optical seam tracking sensor to ensure that the welding torch finds the exact gaps and places the seam at the right place. This could be a pipe-welding robot that can weld even thick pipes up to 1.50 m in diameter quickly and with the highest precision. It can also be a welding tractor, where a welding torch is clamped in, welding a long fillet weld for the welder, so that the quality at the end of the seam is the same as at the beginning.
There are more such valuable "little helpers" for automated welding and they all have one thing in common: they do not replace the welder! The comprehensive know-how of the welder is still in demand and can be used even more specifically in combination with automated welding.
Meanwhile there is also the possibility to combine automated welding with integrated welding fume extraction - for example, the new robotic extraction torches from ABICOR BINZEL, due to their small design, have almost no impairment in terms of accessibility. This also guarantees the health protection of all employees who work in the production hall, too.
Four essential advantages of automated welding:
- Enables more efficient production without loss of manpower
- Guarantees consistent quality of the weld seam
- Reduces rework and minimizes welding errors
- Offers work relief for the welder during monotonous welding work and creates free space for individual tasks
Man and machine – working together
We cannot close our eyes to automation any more. Man and machine - i.e. automation - will move closer together in the future, also in automated welding. The handling of an automatic unit that supports humans in their work is an essential point to be accepted by the user.
We must open the doors for automated welding. Then we will be more efficient in production, we will remain competitive and we will be able to use the manpower as well as the knowledge of the employees in a more targeted way.
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