Is automation worth the investment for welding applications?December 4, 2014 REDWIRE is news you can use from leading suppliers. Powered by FRASERS.
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Automation is not just for high-volume part producers. Even companies that produce small batches of different parts are able to take advantage of automation with the advances in technology made available in recent years. A complete cell can be more affordable than you might think, and in most cases, can show a return on investment in just six months.
But the benefits don’t end there, according to Lincoln Electric, a company that designs and manufacturers, among other things, automated welding solutions.
“An automated system can help you remain competitive by decreasing manufacturing costs, increasing throughput and increasing weld quality,” the company says. “Automation can be two to five times faster than traditional welding methods, increasing both productivity and efficiency.”
Robots, for example, can easily take on the burden of tedious, repetitive jobs and free up skilled welders to work on complex weldments that are not suitable or cost-effective for robotics.
“Because the supply of welders is less than the demand, automating some processes with robotic welding can help fill the gap,” the company maintains.
Another misconception is that some shops are too small to automate. Lincoln Electric says that’s simply not true.
“While conventional wisdom has long pointed to automation as a solution for long runs of repetitive parts, more flexible programming and digital communications between the welding power source, robotic arms and positioning equipment have changed the game. It’s now economically justifiable for manufacturers of any size to incorporate robotic welding into operations, thanks to new programmable cells that support smaller part runs and more specialized applications.”
But the company warns that the investment in robotic automation for welding, in particular, may not be for everyone.
“While robotic welding is right for some applications and operations, it isn’t a cure all for every welding process or challenge,” the company says. “The welding team needs to work together to determine which processes are suitable for automation and which are better served through semi-automatic and manual welding.”
But if your goals are to decrease manufacturing costs and increase weld or cut quality, robotic automation is worth considering. It may be simpler than you think to justify the investment.