Automating a welding application with an industrial robot has a number of benefits. Weld quality, productivity, cycle times, and efficiency can all be improved through the implementation of a robotic welding system. While implementing a welding robot is beneficial in and of itself, there are additional measures that can be taken to maximize those benefits and ensure your robotic welding system is fully optimized.
Any robotic system requires routine preventative maintenance. Preventative maintenance involves a serious of tests and tasks that should be completed at specified intervals of time in order to keep an articulated robot running in good condition and to prevent deterioration or system failures. Maintenance intervals can be defined as a certain number of robot operation hours or a certain period of time. For instance, the FANUC Arcmate 120ic requires maintenance every 3,850 hours or every 12 months as specified by FANUC. Maintenance tasks for robotic welding systems include inspecting the robot and controller, removing spatter from the robot and torch, tightening any loose bolts on the robot, assessing torch positioning, replacing robot grease and batteries, and the inspection of all welding equipment. The overall condition of the welding system should be evaluated during maintenance. This allows for any potential issues to be addressed before they cause major malfunctions or breakdowns. Regularly maintained welding systems will keep consistent, high performance levels.
Another measure to take to ensure optimal operation of your robotic welding system is to keep the weld torch free of any spatter. Spatter produced during welding can build up inside the torch. When this happens the operation of the weld torch can be hindered causing poor quality welds and the potential malfunction of the torch. To avoid this, torches must be frequently cleaned. Torch cleaning can be done manually or automatically with a torch cleaner, also called a robotic reamer. Torch cleaners can be integrated with robotic welding systems to automatically clean torches at specified intervals. The Yaskawa Motoman MA1400 can have its torch cleaned after every 5 parts with a reamer, preventing spatter buildup and ensuring optimal performance.
Adding a robotic vision system to your welding robot can enhance its accuracy and precision, especially for complex welds. Arc welding robots integrated with vision systems are better equipped to detect weld locations, part changes, and torch positioning. Welding robots can make adjustments to weld paths while in operation, avoiding stoppages for reprogramming. Welding robots with vision can automate processes with a high mix of parts as visual feedback allows for adjustments when parts change. The FANUC Arcmate 100ic is a welding robot that can be integrated with vision.
Integrating your welding robot and equipment into a weld cell is the ultimate method to optimize your robotic welding system. Robotic weld cells can consist of one or multiple six axis robots in addition to all welding peripherals and safety equipment needed. Weld cells provide a barrier between the robotic system and workers, allowing welding robots to operate at their maximum speeds. Faster operating speeds increase throughput and productivity. Weld cells ensure continuous operation as operators can load and unload parts simultaneously while the robot or robots weld inside the workcell. Weld cells boost the efficiency of a robotic welding system.
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