Why robotic welding is highly beneficial for SMEs

May 27, 2021

Robots offer a wide range of benefits for various applications and various company types and sizes. As a result of the safety and efficiency challenges attributed to manual welding, robotic welding has become one of the most common types of robotic automation. Welding robots have been largely deployed in production lines all over the world especially within the last few decades. Hence, it is a tried and tested technology used by several manufacturers to generally optimize welding process while enhancing the quality of the welded parts. Although robotic welding has several advantages, most small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) still perceive this technology as costly and only applicable to large companies. However, recent technological advancements have reduced the overall cost of robotics, consequently making robotic welding more affordable and beneficial even for smaller companies.

Robotic welding can be advantageous for small and medium sized companies in the following ways:

1. It increases productivity and efficiency

Individual welds require approximately the same amount of time irrespective of if the welder is a human or a robot. Therefore, the idea that robots always weld faster is generally a misconception. However, manual welding requires a high level of skill and good concentration in order to achieve high quality of your welded seams repeatedly. Robotic welding, on the other hand, can run continuously, performing the same weld cycle round the clock in a precise manner. Furthermore, there are various robot peripherals that contribute to reducing robot downtimes while welding. Nozzle cleaning stations, for instance, clean debris and dirt off the nozzle of the welding gun thereby minimizing weld defects and enabling robots to weld more efficiently all day long. Robots can also save production cycle time by being able to move quickly between weld joint positions and this leads to a substantial increase in output. Since robots can weld with high quality round the clock, this means that even a single robot cell deployed by a small or medium-sized company could be a game-changer in increasing the overall productivity and efficiency. Also, for small batch sizes, where you have to reprogram your robot quite frequently, the first solutions conquer the market to drastically increase productivity and reduce downtimes. Wandelbots Teaching is one of those increasing efficiency by guiding the user with an intuitive app through the teaching process to run the robot again within minutes.

2. It enables cost savings

One of the common challenges experienced by manual welders is overfill. To create a better weld, manual welders often deposit more weld material than required thereby forming a thicker weld bead. This constantly leads to a waste of time and material. For instance, a weld bead which is just 1/8-inch thicker than required can cost up to twice the amount of filler metal. This may seem small until you calculate the amount of unnecessary filler metal wasted in an entire year. Beyond just wasting filler metal, overfill can cause distortions on a welding part thereby leading to rework and wasting even more resources. This is a challenge that is easily solved by deploying welding robots since they are accurate to a very high degree. Due to the consistency of robots, robotic welding cells use only the resources required to weld a part, thereby eliminating the possibility of wasting materials through overfill or other manual welding mistakes. However, the robot must be properly programmed otherwise, the same mistakes may occur even on a broader scale.
The cost of robot programming is another major challenge that often counters the cost savings on robotic welding accuracy. However, a modern technology like Wandelbots is already solving this problem with an easy-to-use solution that enables everyone to teach robots to weld without writing a single line of code. Compared to hiring robot programmers, this solution is relatively more affordable for small and medium-sized companies. Furthermore, to ensure that robots weld the desired parts properly, the existing manual welding experts must be well equipped to train/teach the robots the desired welding application. In the past, this also implied huge costs for small and medium-sized companies since most manual welders usually have no programming knowledge. This is another challenge that Wandelbots solves. Since Wandelbots Teaching is easy to use, little to no training is required for manual welders to be able to teach robots on their own. Therefore, this training cost is also eliminated making the return on investment (ROI) on robots much higher for SMEs, as well.

3. It enhances workplace safety 

Workplace safety is highly important especially for small and medium-sized companies which may be subject to higher insurance costs with an increasing number of workplace accidents. Some of the greatest benefits of robotic welding are experienced by manual welders who work in unhealthy and unsafe environments. In welding factories, manual welders are often faced with the risk of inhaling toxic welding fumes, exposure to ultraviolet light, or welder’s flash burns to their eye’s cornea. Welding robots usually have specific mechanical barriers and sensors which prevent workers from getting close during welding processes that may be dangerous to their health. Safety also leads to higher efficiency since safer operations create fewer liabilities from accidents.

4. It helps to overcome the ‘lack of skilled welders’ problem

According to the American welding society, the US alone is expected to be short by up to 400,000 manual welders by 2024. Also, according to wagecenter, welding is among the top 20 shortage occupations in Germany. Evidently, the shortage of skilled workers for our current and future workforce needs is an increasing challenge, especially in the welding industry. Robotic welding plays a huge role in enabling SMEs to bridge this skill gap and make up for the shortage of manual welders. It is beneficial to channel the company’s limited human resources into other creative tasks within the organization such as planning, controlling, supervising, or even generating new innovative ideas for your welding processes and use robots to perform the monotonous tasks. This provides SMEs with opportunities for growth within their current markets and expansion even to new markets.

The secret to maximizing the benefits of robotic welding as an SME is choosing the right welding system that suits your business needs. This includes the right robot brands, the right robot peripherals, the right robot teaching solutions, and so on.

Wandelbots Teaching solution empowers everyone to weld with robots, regardless of prior robotic knowledge. Once the software runs on a robot, it enables countless possibilities to operate and optimize robotic welding applications easily. This means that with Wandelbots, deploying and training welding robots becomes easier even for small and medium-sized companies. Watch a Wandelbots product demo now to find out more about our solution and how it can help you maximize the benefits of robotic welding.

“The shortage of manual welders in the US alone will reach a deficit of 400,000 workers by 2024.”

American Welding Society

About the author

Dikachi Chizim

Content Marketing

 

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