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.
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:
If you’re like most small to midsize manufacturers investing in automation, you spent time at the very start of your project carefully choosing an automation integrator. That’s the best time to identify companies that are not a good fit in terms of budget, experience or specialization, even personality clashes or things outside everyone’s control like schedules that just won’t mesh. And as a result, hopefully your final choice will deliver a custom machine for you as planned. But what if things start to change once the project is underway?
If you’re like most small to medium sized manufacturers, you spent, or plan to spend, a large amount of time and careful consideration choosing an automation integrator. Don’t neglect putting the same degree of thought into appointing a team from your company who will work with them. After all, you’re making a sizeable investment in a custom machine that your staff will rely on each day, so it makes sense to develop a partnership with the vendor as it’s being created.
We are pleased to announce that Stephen Layman has joined the Force Design team as an Applications Engineer. Stephen brings experience with automation design and installation to his new role in concept and proposal development. His work will include assessing client needs, designing and developing automation solutions, creating 3D concepts and simulations, presenting proposals to clients, analyzing costs, and working with equipment vendors. As part of the Force Design leadership group, he’ll also participate in strategic planning, growing client and vendor relationships, and leading concept development work with our design and engineering staff.
Since our beginning, Force Design employees have enjoyed a culture of teaching and learning. With just a handful of employees, open communication and information sharing was easy and necessary. As Force Design added team members, we continued to actively share knowledge and learn from each other. We saw the value of this trait and made the commitment to nurture it as we grew. Today, we recognize this trait as one of Force Design’s core values: Mentorship. Employees at all levels of experience, teach, and learn from each other.
How would you know if automation could ease some of your manufacturing frustrations? If you recognize any of the following six conditions, your processes could very likely benefit from a custom automation solution.