As if the past two years didn’t bring enough trouble – a global pandemic, supply chain disruptions, record inflation, soaring gas prices – we are also facing a welder shortage. While many industries are struggling to find and keep good talent, there is a critical need for welders. It is estimated that the industry is expected to need more than 336,000 welders by 2026, due in part to an aging workforce and industry growth. Like many companies, we are supplementing our skilled welders with robotic welding.
With robotic welding, the welding process is automated with the help of a programmable robotic arm. An engineer creates a program with part identification that tells the robotic arm where and how to weld the part. Each part has its own program. Some robotic welders use positioning tables to flip or turn a part to weld the other side. Loading and unloading the parts and starting the welder can be done by any trained associate. The database can store thousands of programs, so a reoccurring order only needs to be programmed once, saving time.
A typical workflow of a robotic welding cell might look like this:
- An associate sets the part in the fixture and securely clamps it into place.
- The associate selects the appropriate program (which was created by an engineer specifically for the part) and pushes the start button.
- As the first part is welded, the associate loads the second part and sets up the second station.
- When work is completed on the first station, welding will begin on the second station.
- The associate collects the finished part and reloads the station with the next part.
Benefits of Robotic Welding for Our Customers
A top benefit of robotic welding is repeatability. Manual welding leads to labor fatigue over time, which can lead to errors even with the most experienced welder. Robotic welders can run nonstop, and each weld is precisely placed and perfectly produced every time.
In addition to improved quality and reduced scrap, throughput is increased. We’ve seen a 30 percent increase in throughput. We currently do not have skilled welders on the midnight shift, so the robot gives us eight additional hours of welding capacity, allowing us to move jobs through the shop even faster.
What Can’t Robots Do?
With the benefits of increased throughput with excellent quality, companies might be tempted to replace all welders with robotics. At Tusco, we need and appreciate our skilled welders. Our robots are programmed to perform MIG welding on ferrous materials. They are also best suited for larger quantities or large pieces – we don’t want our welders to risk injury trying to flip an 8ft piece of steel while they are welding it. Our skilled welders are needed for TIG welding, spot welding, grid welding, smaller-sized projects, and non-ferrous materials – jobs where they can put their skills and experience to good use. By taking away the burden of repetitive welding, our skilled welders can perform to their highest level.
Applications For Robotic Welding
The repeatability and increased productivity achieved with robotic welding have made it popular across many industries with applications for appliances, metal cabinets, electrical housing, enclosures, and more. It is well suited for welds with predictable actions that don’t require changes in the welding process. It is also useful for welding curved surfaces.
Work with a Fabricator that Values The Art and Science of Welding
Welding is both a science and an art. At Tusco, we incorporate the science of sophisticated robotic welding with the unmatched expertise of skilled welders who have honed the art of proficient welding. With the best of both worlds, we can provide the best solution for your challenging sheet metal fabrication projects.
We are more than welders. As a one-stop-shop, we take your project from design using sophisticated technology through shipment, providing you lower costs and fewer vendors to manage.
Contact us to quote your next sheet metal project.