Increasing output by deploying the latest technology

That you can significantly increase productivity by using the latest technology is proven by two projects at the Belgian companies Limeparts-Drooghmans and KS Metaalwerken, where Valk Welding supplied a welding robot in a standard setup last year. Although the applications were very different, the similarity between the two projects is the low threshold with which the welding automation could be used in practice. “The welding robot has become more of an operator function, simple to program and easy to operate,” judges Koen Vandersmissen, managing director of Limeparts-Drooghmans.

KS Metaalwerken

A hot item during the first wave of the Corona pandemic was the disinfection pole with hand dispenser. Many entrepreneurs responded to this sudden acute market demand. KS Metaalwerken received an order to make 25,000 foot pedals for it. A part that required turning, milling and bending as well as welding. Owner Kris Swerts: “A monotonous job that would take us far too long to complete manually. Deploying a welding robot was the only way to get the numbers up in a short time, but how do you get that done so quickly? Outsourcing turned out not to be an option, because of the long delivery times. A colleague advised to contact Valk Welding. Thanks to their quick intervention, a welding robot could be delivered within 3 weeks, including programming”, says Kris Swerts. “In the meantime, we received training at Valk Welding and made the welding jig and shielding ourselves.”

Ready for other applications

“From day 1, we were able to deploy the welding robot immediately, which meant that we had the order ready within 2 weeks of full-scale production. This gives us the opportunity to now look at other applications. Although welding is not one of our core activities, we see an opportunity to broaden our market. In any case, we no longer have to outsource welding work. If something comes our way, we can weld it with the robot”, Kris Swerts looks ahead.


Supply chain activities support own product

Koen Vandersmissen of Limeparts-Drooghmans also saw the productivity of the welding production rise sharply after the introduction of a Valk Welding welding robot according to the latest technology. The company, which specializes in facade construction, spends half of its business on subcontracting. “However, our current Valk Welding welding robot was technically behind after 20 years. As a company in which we prepare everything in 3D, we also wanted to be able to program the welding robot offline. Given the good experiences in recent years with their service and support in general, Valk Welding is among our preffered suppliers. The service is close by and the response time is short”, says the CEO.

Trade-off between manual and robotic welding

Koen Vandersmissen continues: “For us, the series size always determines whether the product can be put on the welding robot. Since we program offline with DTPS, the work preparation takes less time, so that we can also run smaller series sizes on the welding robot. Another aspect that has accelerated the innovation is the limited availability of skilled workers. This has forced us to focus more on automation, but it must be low-threshold. We therefore leave the programming to our CAM specialists. They control the basic process parameters with which they can make the offline programs for the welding robot. The operators are welders we have trained internally. They can assess the welding quality and solve minor problems themselves. The welding robot has thus become more of an operator function, easy to program and easy to operate”.

Supply and facade construction

“We weld all products on two Sigmund tables, so basically an H-frame but with fixed tables. The frames we weld with the robot are a recurring product, of which we produce 25,000 to 30,000 annually. Because of the supply, we are able to use production power for the construction of facades as well. As a result, we are also competitive in this area and can deliver a high standard of quality. Thanks to the use of the latest technology in the field of welding robotization, we have seen a sharp increase in overall productivity over the past year,” Koen Vandersmissen reiterates.

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