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.
There are many reasons to consider integrating automation equipment into your welding manufacturing processes. Whether you’re already engaged in welding operations at your facility or expanding your capabilities to include it, welding is especially well-suited to being automated, often through robotics.
By providing a high-quality, consistent product you build brand loyalty and reputation, on which most manufacturers pride themselves. But, quality costs time, money, and staffing resources. What’s more, in many industries (e.g. food and beverage, pharma, automotive/aviation), quality is critical to safety so you can’t afford to make inspection errors.
As a consumer you probably wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it. And you probably wouldn’t buy a new pair of shoes without first trying them on and walking or jogging in them at the store. You need proof a product meets your needs before you make a purchase, and the best way to do that is to test it under real-world conditions. It’s how you’ll discover a sluggish transmission or inadequate arch support or another deal breaker before you buy.
It seems obvious that a robotic arm can’t perform a specific task until an end-of-arm tool (EOAT), sometimes called an end effector, is added. It might seem as simple as buying a tool for the task, but it’s actually a complex decision with several interconnected factors to consider. These are the top five: