Selecting the Right Welding Robot
Automation has become very popular in the modern world. A lot of welding facilities are also looking at automating their processes by installing welding robots. Welding robots offer efficiency and flexibility to the welding process. The robots also prevent injuries common in manual welding processes by handling dangerous tasks. Additionally, collaborative robots can be redeployed to other production areas once a specific task is complete. Here are a few factors to consider when selecting a welding robot.
Identify Your Kind of Welding
A welding robot will be efficient than manual methods. However, you will need to identify what kind of welding you do before settling on a welding robot. Complex aspects will play a significant role in your choice of a welding robot. These aspects include parts to be welded, gaps required between the parts, and clamping methods used.
Welding robots are ideal for easy clamping systems and standard gaps between parts. If your clamping system is complicated or the gaps between parts are large, you should stick to traditional welding methods.
Work closely with a robot integrator when determining which welding robot you need. You will be able to choose the most appropriate welding robot with the help of this information. A CAD blueprint will enable a robot integrator to pick a perfect welding robot for your work. The integrator will also know what tools and other support systems need to be integrated into the working cell.
The upstream part flow should be accurate to eliminate all bottlenecks and production problems in the facility. A welding robot will not be optimal if you cannot integrate other support systems such as clamping systems and quality input parts into the system.
Plan the Automation Process
A welding robot will significantly increase production. You must be ready for this significant change, and therefore the decision to move to robotic welding should be arrived at after a tremendous amount of reflection. Don’t be tempted to rushing into purchasing a welding robot without proper planning. Automation is an expensive investment, and you should make appropriate considerations beforehand.
All inputs parts and support systems should be available to eliminate any downtime in the facility. It would be best if you also determined whether your customers need high production volumes. Additionally, you need to plan for the installation, programming, maintenance, consumables, and material ordering.
Determine Human Resource Needs
You will need to determine whether you have the right staff to operate a welding robot. Are the staff in the facility skilled enough to achieve the robot’s quality and maintain it? An employee with adequate experience with welding robots is crucial to the automation process. Depending on the output needs, the welding robot will need to be reprogrammed and recalibrated from time to time. The process should also be quick to avoid any downtime.
Staff training is the key to a successful transition. Manufacturers should provide on-the-job training for approximately one to three weeks. On-the-job training is the best and fastest way to get the facility working after such automation. Also, remember to get your staff continuously trained to be up to date with software updates and new programming methods.
Cost Benefits of the Welding Robot
Welding robots have a lot of advantages, including efficiency, fast, and safety. However, you will need to do a cost-benefit analysis before getting a welding robot. Evaluate the benefits of reduced wastage, savings in labor, and the number of parts that the robot can weld in a given time frame.
Analyze the benefits of having the robot over using traditional welding techniques. Finally, calculate the entire payback period to determine whether purchasing a welding robot is the right move for your business.
The Welding Robot’s Features
A basic welding robot has two subsystems. The first is the welding equipment that delivers energy from the power source to the workpiece. The second system provides the relative position of the workpiece and the heat source.
Most industrial welding robots have six-axis. Three-axis are on the lower arm and three-axis on the wrist. The six-axis enable the robot to achieve all the positions that are necessary for three-dimensional welding. The axis makes the robot flexible enough to move the welding torch attached to the wrist.
However, a more advanced welding robot will have seven-axis. An additional axis is added to the lower arm. The axis will provide additional flexibility hence save the floor space required for the robot to work.
It is common to incorporate workpiece manipulators as part of a robotic welding system in the production environment. Workpiece manipulators extend the robot’s working range and its accessibility. Workpiece manipulators are essential when welding large and complex geometries.
To have a simultaneous and synchronized control of the two, the manipulator is integrated with the robot. The integration allows coordinated motion, which increases the welding speed and maintains optimum welding positions.
Robotic welding is challenging. There are high demands for flexibility, productivity, and improved quality. Modern systems require robots that are adaptive and precise. To achieve these, welding robots need high-class sensor technology.
Sensing technologies are essential elements for achieving the desired control of a welding robot. The sensors act as the input sources for the control system by observing and measuring the process parameters. Although modern sensing technologies for welding robots are available and reliable, it is still challenging to use them in some applications.
The sensors in a welding robot are classified into two. The first is process sensors and are used to measure process parameters that determine the process’s stability. The second sensors measure the geometry of the weld joints, such as gap sizes, orientation changes, and deviations from the nominal path. A welding robot uses geometry sensors for seam tracking, weld searching, and real-time adaptive welding.
Automating any business process has a lot of advantages. However, the transition needs a lot of planning and considerations for it to be a success. Selecting the right welding robot for your facility is the key to a successful change.