Welding robots have been largely deployed in production lines all over the world especially within the last few decades. Manufacturers use robots to 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. Robotic welding 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 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.
2. SMEs can save production cost with robotic welding
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 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 but imagine how much unnecessary filler metal is typically 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 which 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.
Keep in mind that 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, Wandelbots is 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.
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. 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. Welding with robots 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 less liabilities from accidents.
4. Robots help to overcome the ‘lack of skilled welders' challenge
According to the American welding society, the US alone is expected to be short by up to 400,000 manual welders by 2024. Also, wagecenter mentions welding as one of 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.
5. Robotic welding is beneficial for small batch automation
When automating with small batch sizes, you may have to reprogram your robots frequently. This makes small batch automation a no-go option, especially for SMEs that are not able to hire an in-house robot programming expert.
With no-code robotics solutions like Wandelbots Teaching, manual welders can teach robots new skills within minutes, without any programming knowledge. This not only saves time by getting the robot application running quickly but also saves the cost of hiring a robot programmer whenever a new application is needed. Hence, no code robotics makes small batch automation beneficial for SMEs.
To maximizing the benefits of robotic welding as an SME, it is important to choose the right welding system that suits your business needs. This includes the robot brands, the robot peripherals, the 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 optimise robotic welding applications easily. This means that with Wandelbots, deploying and teaching welding robots becomes easier even for small and medium sized companies.