In the past welding automation has exclusively involved traditional six-axis industrial robots. Now there is a new type of robot automating welding applications and that is the collaborative robot. Manufacturers are automating welding applications with cobots in order to achieve greater flexibility to keep up with varying production volumes, parts, and consumer demands. The Universal UR10 along with other cobots can be used to automate laser, MIG, TIG, and plasma welding. Welding cobots provide a number of benefits which is fueling their rise in welding automation.
- • Elimination of Safeguarding Equipment - Traditional robotic welding systems require safeguarding equipment such as safety fencing, area scanners, light curtains, pressurized mats, etc. Cobots are designed to safely operate around humans and other peripherals without any barriers. They feature built-in sensors that detect people and objects, slowing or stopping their operation when either is in their work area. In addition, their rounded exterior and no pinch point design softens any impacts in the off chance they occur. Automating welding with the FANUC CR-15ia means no extra equipment is needed.
- • Save Space - The compact size of cobots along with the elimination of safeguarding equipment can save manufacturers a significant amount of space. The small footprint of cobots means less space is needed than most traditional welding robots. With welding cobots there is no need for robotic workcells that can consume large amounts of floorspace. The small size of cobots also allows them to be easily relocated should production needs change.
- • More Affordable - Automating welding applications with collaborative robots can more affordable than traditional welding robots. The elimination of safeguarding equipment adds to the affordability of cobots. Traditional robotic welding systems involve additional equipment besides the articulated robot which adds to the overall cost.
- • Intuitive Programming - Cobots feature intuitive programming through hand guidance which makes them easy to setup, operate, and redeploy. Users can simply guide the arm of the Universal UR16e through the steps of a welding application to program it. Hand guidance programming allows anyone to be able to operate a cobot regardless of technical skill. Cobots are an excellent option for those new to robotic automation.
- • Automate Low Volume/High Mix Productions - The intuitive programming of cobots makes them suitable for automating low volume and high mix productions. Cobot programming can take place in just minutes as opposed to hours with traditional welding robots. Users can quickly redeploy cobots on demand when parts change.
- • Better Weld Quality - Like six axis robots, collaborative robots can significantly improve weld quality. Cobots provide a precise, continuous, and steady motion when welding for smoother, stronger weld seams. They are also able to produce longer welds without multiple stops and starts which also helps improve weld quality.
- • Increase Productivity - Cobots can assist welders with repetitive or time consuming aspects of a welding application. Welders are then free to focus on more custom or complex welding tasks. While welders and cobots work simultaneously on different aspects of a welding application, productivity can significantly increase. Research has shown adding a collaborative robot can boost productivity by up to 85%.