Increase of quality and productivity
After several years of experience with robot welding, the French supplier ROBIN was searching for possibilities of increasing both quality as well as productivity. This lead to the investment in a Valk Welding robot installation with offline programming, suitable for MIG and TIG welding. “The new robot welding installation had to be suitable for a wide range of products and materials and furthermore feature 100% offline programming. With their technology, unique solutions for seam searching and offline programming, we felt that Valk was a step ahead in robot welding,” ROBIN’s CEO states.
The family business situated in the French Vendée department supplies industrial sheet metal products for various industry sectors from agricultural machinery to steel structures and from street furniture to industrial vehicles. 65 employees work in the 9,000 m² workspace that is equipped with machinery for laser cutting, bending, welding and assembly. The volume sizes range from prototypes to serial production using steel, stainless steel and aluminium.
Long-term experience with welding robotization
ROBIN has been utilising welding robots since 2000, of which until last year three systems were still used in production. “The issue was that the existing welding technology did not provide the expected quality with stainless steel products. Due to the outdated technology, we encountered problems in regard to seam tracking (searching). Moreover, we were only able to perform MIG welding, while we also have a requirement for a large amount of TIG welding,” Mr Robin explains.
Higher quality required
The new welding robot system must be suitable for both MIG as well as TIG welding. “The product requires both welding processes, for this reason it was necessary to be able to quickly switch between both processes. Therefore, we wanted to achieve a higher welding quality with stainless steel and a better repeatability during the production phases. We had already researched into the technology and the concept of the welding robot systems offered by Valk Welding for a few years. A relationship built on mutual trust had been established in the course of this period. We felt that Valk was a step ahead with their technology and knowledge of robot welding. A visit to a number of references and their head office in the Netherlands confirmed this,” Mr Robin states.
Panasonic arc welding concept
Valk Welding uses Panasonic arc welding robots in their robot systems. Panasonic has developed these specifically for the arc welding process and produces all components and the software in-house. Welding robot, power source, controller, wire feeder, positioner and software are all optimally tuned to each other. Panasonic has become one of the most innovative manufacturers in this field.
Complete installation on a single frame
The entire system, comprised of a Panasonic TL-1800 WGllI welding robot and two workstations with a length of 3,500 mm each and capable of handling loads of up to 1000 kg, is built on an E-shaped torsion-free frame construction. Because all components are built on a single frame, this facilitates the achievement of savings in the area of logistics and the required floor surface. Moreover, less programming and no calibration work is needed. The frame can be moved in its entirety and immediately taken back into operation without the need for programming changes.
Offline programming makes it possible to program the robot installation without having to interrupt ongoing production, resulting in increased productivity. With more than 750 users, Panasonic DTPS software (Desktop Programming System) is one of the most commonly used offline programming software systems for welding robots in Europe. “Two of our employees have been experienced in programming for several years, working on our welding robot cells, which have been especially intended for the welding of steel components. The week before the arrival of the new welding robot, they attended a two-day training course at Valk Welding and furthermore an additional two days following the start-up of the installation in our company. After we had taken the installation into operation for several months, we also scheduled three additional training days in order to complete the training. First, we wanted to familiarize ourselves with both the hardware as well as the TIG process before we continued with the training,” Mr Robin explains.
Quickly change between MIG and TIG
One of the advantages of the Panasonic system is that both MIG as well as TIG welding processes can be used with the same power source, cables and wire feed system. Only the polarity of the power source has to be reversed. Thanks to the quick coupling on the gooseneck of the Valk Welding robot torches, the changing of the welding torches is very simple. It only takes a few seconds. Moreover, the robot does not require recalibration when the welding torches are replaced.
In daily practice, the Panasonic welding robot offers a marked progression of the quality of the weld seam, reduction of the weld splashes and a constant welding arc. The high speed of installation both during the movement of the welding robot as well as during welding, enables a substantial increase of productivity. Furthermore, the searching of the weld seam with gas head searching or with the welding wire (Quick Touch) ensures a reliable process and a high degree of repeatability. The simplicity of use, including the calibration, enables operators to perform their daily work in an autonomous manner.
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