Of all the work that goes into making metal items, welding is perhaps the most complex process. That is why it’s often not easy to make sense of. While many companies spend millions trying to automate their plants with systems such as the WeldSaver, some of them ignore the welding process. Many companies still rely on manual welding in their firms. Only a few of them are willing to invest in both welding systems to increase product size and quality to create more revenue.
Basic Types of Robotic Welding
Robotic welding can be broken down further into two basic types: semiautomatic and fully automatic that uses the WeldSaver device. When using the semiautomatic welding process, the operator loads welding parts into the welder. In the process, welding parts stillness and torch motion is checked by the controller based on the preset program. The process is done all over again once the weld is complete and the finished item is removed.
The entire welding process is programmed in fully automated welding systems. This is done using a preset program, where a single robot or a series of robots load the workpiece, position the torch, weld, check the workpiece quality, and unload the finished item. Based on the welding, an operator may be needed. Automated welding is not always good for all kinds of welding operations. Robotic welding is vital if the quality of finished products needs to be very high or if the finished items need to be the same.
Some of the items that need to be welded in the same way include light bulb elements, batteries, capacitor cans, solenoids, pipe fittings, nuclear devices, medical metal items, motor parts, relay enclosures, fuel filters, among others. Semi-Automatic is ideal for plants that make items that don’t create accurate and crucial welds. Since weld accuracy is not needed, operators can control the welding process using a welding water saver system.
Pros of Robotic Welding Systems
Using robotic welding systems in a plant comes with many benefits. But the four common ones that companies look at include high-quality welds, reduced scraps, increased output, and low human labor cost. In welding, two factors affect weld quality: repeatability and weld integrity. Weld integrity is achieved in robotic welding through electronic weld process controllers. Unlike manual welding, where precision is not assured, robotic welding produces high-quality welds by fusing part motions with the electronic recall of welding with the mechanized torch.
This results in high-quality control. Moreover, defects are sensed and seen when a weld is made once. When performed by hand, humans “smooth over” a mistake with the torch. Lack of penetration or a flawed weld is hidden by smoothing over these mistakes. In some instances, vision testing systems and leak testing such as the WeldSaver are fused fully into the robotic welding system. This fusion provides extra quality control.
The weld process controller and machine motions bring about precise welds. To achieve this, robotic welding is needed in input paras. If the controller functions as wanted, the robot arm needs to use specific welding tolerance to position the welding torch or parts. The human factor is removed in fully automatic welding systems. This pushes up output in production. It is not the operator who sets the production weld speeds but the max percentage of the preset machine program. This brings about minimal setup time and higher weld speeds, unlike manual welding.
There is no room for human error because machines replace parts, and torches or part motions are automated. In this type of welding, a weld will only take place once the welding needs are met. Fatigue in manual welding leads to increased weld rejects. The cost of welding parts that arrive at the welding plant will determine if this type of welding is needed. Machine welding also cuts down the risk of sending faulty parts to customers.
Low Labour Cost
The company’s labor cost increases when it decides to rely on human welders. Plant managers must look at the time human laborers take when producing welds. A semiautomatic welding system produces twice as much as a skilled human welder. In an automated shuttle, twin welding positioners in robotic welding can be built in a fully automatic welding system. While welding occurs in such a system, loading and unloading parts can go on in another station. This means that the fully automatic system works four times faster than the semiautomatic system and eight times faster than a skilled human welder.
Lost opportunity costs are reduced in welding water saver systems. When a skilled welder fails to report to the station, it pushes up the company’s variable costs. Since the skilled human welder works for eight hours a day, it means that eight hours of production time is lost. A challenge is also created when there is a lack of skilled workers in a manual welding system. Compared to skilled welders, general machine operators are cheaper and often available.
Cons of Robotic Welding Systems
Robotic welding systems have many benefits, no doubt. There are two sides to a coin, meaning a few setbacks come with robotic welding systems. To overcome the drawbacks, they should be pointed out before the welding project begins.
High Investment Cost
The first con of a robotic welding system is that the initial investment cost is quite high, unlike in manual welding systems. The power supply of a modern manual welding system costs less than $5,000—the cost of power in a semiautomatic welding system costs around $30,000. If you intend to have a fully automatic welding system, then your company should be ready to part with $175,000 to $250,000 for power cost only.
It’s Not Flexible
Another drawback of using robotic welding systems is that it’s not flexible. There is an adverse relationship between machines and the degree of automation. Specialized tools only cater to one niche of production. A manual welder is more flexible because it can be moved from one part to another. The company needs to strike a balance between flexibility in a process and accuracy, repeatability, and precision welds.
Shifting is Hard
Shifting from manual welding to robotic welding needs crucial evaluation for the transition to go on smoothly. It is not an overnight job. Although a machine can do welding work of eight manual welders effectively and efficiently, you have to consider proper maintenance. Failure to perform proper equipment maintenance may lead to a costly downtime once a welding machine breaks down. The maintenance routine should include lubrication, cleaning, calibration, and replacement of consumables based on the machine’s complexity.
The product’s life cycle also has to be considered when you want to shift from the manual welding system. If your company is planning to produce high-quality weld items in large quantities, robotic welding will pay off in the long run, even though the initial cost of investment is high.
Welding, whether robotic or manual, is a demanding venture that requires total dedication. As you have read in this article, there are various benefits that come with the WeldSaver welding systems. However, there are also a few disadvantages of this system. Before deciding which welding system you want to set in your plant, evaluate your company’s requirements first and then purchase a welding system from a reputable manufacturer.