More and more businesses are turning to automation these days, and the welding industry is not an exception. According to The Future of Jobs Report, 50% of employers are set to increase the automation of jobs in their companies, and this trend is projected to grow.
What is welding automation?
Even though welding is a complex manufacturing process that requires good manual dexterity, there are some welding processes that can be performed by robots. Thus, welding jobs carried out by robots fall under welding automation.
Benefits of welding automation
A robotic welding system can enhance operational efficiency and improve the quality of welds while also saving the business owner time and costs. And while some businesses are already reaping the benefits of automation in their everyday welding processes, others are only considering it.
If you rely on welding in your manufacturing business and are looking to automate some of the welding tasks, ask yourself these four questions before investing in a robotic welding system.
4 Questions to Ask Before Getting Started With Welding Automation
1. What type of parts am I producing?
There are several types of robotic welding machines such as Gas Metal Arc Welding, Gas Tungsten Arc Welding, Thin Gauge Arc Welding, Plasma welding, Laser Hybrid Welding etc. The first step in determining the right robotic welding machine is understanding the workflow involved in making the end product and how a robotic welder can integrate into that workflow. Aside from the robotic welder itself, a number of other equipment needs to be taken into account, such as contact tips or wire cutters, in order for the robotic welder to achieve a good quality weld.
Another aspect to keep in mind is that trying to automate the entire production chain at once will not bring the desired results. Consider automating the production one step at a time starting with simple parts first and moving to the complex ones. It is also important to understand that it is easier to automate large volume production and the parts that require low sophistication and precision.
2. Do I have the right people in place?
Launching a robotic welding system does not mean no human intervention is required. Robots perform automated tasks but they cannot judge or spot the production flaws and stop. In fact, a professional welder is needed to judge and recalibrate the robotic welding machine. Integrating a robotic welding system into the production workflow means skilled welders can be freed of monotonous time-consuming tasks and can focus on doing more valuable tasks while working with their traditional mig welding machine. Welders are trained to operate the robotic system and work with the software that goes with it. This is a great opportunity for them to learn new skills and even step on a new career path.
3. What results am I looking for? What is my end goal?
It is important to analyze what stage of the welding fabrication needs improvement and understand the ways in which automation can benefit it. By tackling one specific production issue, automation helps to improve the overall production process. Look what issue in the welding process you want to tackle and select a robotic welder accordingly. Are you looking for high-precision welds with minimum mistakes? Get a TIG welding system. Thinking of automating the production of large volumes of simple parts? Get an arc welding machine.
Also, with robotic welder integration, many other processes involved in production will be taken to a new level too. For instance, robots producing parts 24/7 will require continuous material supply to ensure constant production throughput. Think about how you can make sure this requirement is fulfilled before investing in a robotic welder.
4. Are my upstream processes consistent?
Making sure your upstream processes are in line with the performance of the robot is crucial as failing to do so is lowering the efficiency of the robot and ultimately annulling the investment. This is especially important in the production of large volume parts where repeatability of the production process is the key. Proper part preparation needs to be consistent for the robot to produce quality welds each time. With robotic welder implementation, the increase of production volumes and the expansion of the business are almost inevitable. Review your production processes and make sure they are prepared to handle the new workload.
The current consumer trends drive manufacturing companies to look for solutions to optimize their production processes in order to produce more goods in a shorter period of time. In addition, market competition is another factor influencing business owners’ decisions toward automating their manufacturing processes.
Integrating a robotic welder into the manufacturing workflow is something every business should consider, as doing so will only benefit them in many ways, from improving the quality of the end product to saving time and operational costs.
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Dhruv Mehta is a Digital Marketing Professional who works as a brand consultant and provides solutions in the digital era. In his free time, he loves to write about industrial processes, finance & home decor. Follow him on Twitter or connect with him via LinkedIn.