We've talked about how robots affect job security – one of the common concerns workers and managers express about automation and robotics in manufacturing. Here we’ll address three more reasons robots get a bad rap: safety, expense, and learning to work with advanced technology.
One of the challenges of planning a new welding automation project is visualizing the equipment layout. There are many configuration options from which to choose. What’s highly efficient in one facility might bog down production in another. It all comes down to your goals and the details of your manufacturing process.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you design your welding cell.
Robot technology is always evolving to take on new tasks and improve production and quality in manufacturing. Once only seen in the largest plants, industrial welding robots are becoming common in small- to medium-size facilities too.
In the last few years, there’s been discussion about welding with the latest iteration of robots: collaborative robots, or "cobots". In fact, last year’s FABTECH show included exhibits of mobile welding systems that can move around the shop to the point of need. Still other examples include cobot arms that can be outfitted with a welding torch, which can be swapped out for a gripper or other end-of-arm tool and redeployed for other tasks.
Electric resistance welding, commonly called spot welding, is an excellent candidate for automation and robotics. It’s common in automotive and vehicle assembly for frames and body components, where the average vehicle can contain thousands of welds.
As automation and robotic technology continue to evolve, spot welding can be done in ever-smaller physical spaces, integrated with other parts of the assembly process, and in proximity to human operators. The result is consistent, repeatable welding output in less time and with high levels of quality.
We can all agree the current COVID-19 global pandemic and the economic, employment, and social upheaval it’s causing is disastrous. So much is uncertain from day to day and it seems the outlook for health and business changes with each new news story. Business leaders might instinctively decide to table many of their plans and focus on maintaining the status quo for the foreseeable future.
To implement automation in welding effectively and maximize your ROI, you need to approach it as a system, not merely a torch-wielding robotic arm standing in for a human welder. Thinking about the flow of parts into the welding cell, how they’re fixtured and welded, and where they’re transferred next may present opportunities to boost efficiency, save space, or open up production bottlenecks.
Collaborative robots, sometimes called cobots, have had a major impact on automation in the past several years. Unlike the large, often dangerous machines dedicated to a single factory task, collaborative robots are generally lightweight, compact, and easy to program for a variety of jobs.
According to recent survey by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), 53.1 percent of manufacturers anticipate a change in their operations due to the current COVID19 pandemic. You may already be experiencing changes to your business as you adjust to the financial impact, worker health and safety protections, supply chain disruptions, or decreases in new orders. At the same time, shortages of specific products including medical devices and protective equipment and related supplies means some manufacturers have new opportunities to expand production or make new items, if only temporarily.
If you’re a small or medium-sized manufacturer and your throughput, labor force, and component quality are optimal and continuously improving, don’t bother reading any further. But if you have any challenges in these areas, and if you’ve ever wondered how to address them effectively, we may have some ideas for you.
Automation in manufacturing isn’t exactly new but companies are finding new ways to apply it all the time. New and advancing technology including sensors, vision cameras, and collaborative robots (or cobots as they’re often called) expand possibilities from aircraft manufacturing to food processing and beyond. Across the board, flexible automation is a priority, along with worker safety and efficient production.