How do you keep the quality high when numbers increase?
Tekla, the Polish manufacturer of boilers, is benefiting from the rising demand for boilers that comply with the latest environmental standards, but ran into production problems in their process. Where do you get qualified welders from and how do you keep the quality high when numbers increase? It's a problem faced by many companies in the European metalworking industry. Together with the specialists from Valk Welding, owner Krzysztof Tekla took the step towards welding robots with the aim of securing a substantial increase in production and above all high welding quality.
The Polish market for boilers grew strongly in the period between 2006 and 2010. Changes in legislation led households in Poland and surrounding countries to replace their existing boilers en masse with modern low-emission systems. Assisted by European subsidies, many small companies entered the market, resulting in strong competition. Krzysztof Tekla says, “We have a strong market position with the Tekla brand in Poland as well as in the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary. Our boilers comply with environmental standard EN303-5:2012, while our wide-based portfolio satisfies most requirements on the market. But how do you manage to maintain your position amongst dozens of competitors?”
Welding robot versus hand-held welder
With production numbers increasing to up to 6,000 items per year, two questions play a critical role. How do you achieve the necessary increase in production capacity, and how do you guarantee quality in the process? According to Krzysztof Tekla, “It was impossible to achieve the increase in production due to a lack of qualified welders. The use of welding robots was the only solution. I came across Valk Welding while researching the market. Their concept immediately appealed to me. Moreover, they were able not only to supply the system but also to train our people and support them in the start-up phase. Having visited reference companies and spoken with users, we quickly became convinced that Valk Welding was the right welding robot integrator for us.”
Absolute leak tightness required
The heat exchangers form the heart of the Tekla boilers. For safety reasons, these must be 100% free from leaks. Says Krzysztof Tekla, “Not a single weld can be interrupted, and we are talking about welds of up to 50 m in length. The Panasonic robot TL-1800WG3 now applies the weld to each workpiece with the same parameters and with a clean and spatter-free appearance. We can therefore be sure that each heat exchanger is 100% leakproof.”
Directly visible advantages
“Production has gone up by 40% since the welding robot system was put into operation. Our company’s problem with undercapacity has therefore also been solved, which means that we no longer lose any customers to the competition because of delivery time or quality. Apart from a higher and above all consistent weld quality, we have less friction on the welding wire, wire tips and gas nozzles and we use less shielding gas, due to the use of Wire Wizard components. We no longer have any rework of products either. If a manually welded heat exchanger is not 100% leakproof, the whole process has to be repeated,” explains Krzysztof Tekla.
Investing in robots opens up perspectives
“Automated production is an initiative that you have to carry out with an eye on long term approach. You have to look not only at the costs but above all at the possibilities a robot offers. I can see us using several robots in the future, not only for the welding process,” concludes Krzysztof Tekla. www.teklakotly.pl
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