Welding Robots in the Automotive Industry
Welding automation plays a critical role within the automotive industry. Discover how the car manufacturing process leverages welding robots. Learn more here.
Automotive manufacturing is starting to regain its pre-pandemic numbers in the United States. With a market size of $86.2 billion, the industry gained back 4.3% of market growth last year.
Robotics are critical to many facets of the automotive manufacturing sector today. Labor still plays a significant role in building cars. Yet, as technology grows, welding robots have become essential.
Robotic welding is transforming the manufacturing landscape. Read this guide to learn how the industry is making welding automation a vital player.
The Welding Robot System
World’s Top Industrial Welding Robot Manufacturers for welding application are Comau Robot, ABB Robot, Yaskawa Robot, Kuka Robot, Fanuc Robot and Nachi Robot.
Within a manufacturing environment, two types of welding robots generally get used. A semiautomatic and automatic welding robot system each have a role.
The semiautomatic robotic welding system relies on human control for smaller-scale jobs. The controller will set the parameters for the robot to perform a simple operation. When complete, the person in control will handle the finished part.
In automotive manufacturing, a more intricate system is critical for uninterrupted flow. Welding robots get a series of commands to keep the assembly process moving. The automatic robotic welding system involves the machine in the entire line function.
The robot gets programmed to pick the part, place it on the welding platform, and perform the weld. The customized machines will then upload the completed task to the assembly stage. With this type of welding automation, robots perform a repetitive tasks.
In some cases, a human controller needs to be present to ensure the quality of work. But with reprogramming, it is often the case that welding robots will work independently.
Robotic Welding in Automotive Industry Technology
For several reasons, the automotive industry has moved to more use of robotics to build cars. The main factor is to reduce the chance of human error. Yet, that does not mean the human element is obsolete.
Personnel is crucial to maintaining quality standards and for machine calibration. Technicians will also perform repairs on faulty machines. But repetitive tasks can get performed with greater speed and efficiency with robots.
The average car has over 5000 parts welded together. Welding automation takes on these tasks with more precision through programming. Plus, a welding robot system will affix parts the same way each time and faster.
Different welding robots perform a variety of functions in automotive manufacturing. From a spot weld on a large piece of body panel to an intricate computer part, robotic welding is vital. Welding robots also receive programming to collaborate on larger jobs in line assembly.
Types Of Robotic Welding
With so many components that go into making a car, almost every form of welding is crucial. Spot welding robots have an enormous capacity to perform work on large metal sheets. These machines are prominent on the assembly line floor for attaching car panels.
The resistance spot welding process uses pressure and electricity to fasten metal pieces. The heat of combined molten metals creates a tight permanent fit when the weld cools.
Smaller arc welding automation robots perform precise, high-quality welds. Tungsten or metal inert gas welders repeat the same task each time to exact standards. Guage arc welding performs with less burn to maintain the metal’s appearance.
The welding robot system goes beyond the assembly floor. Plasma arc welding is a crucial part of automotive manufacturing. Many car parts now include computer motherboards where small, precise welds are critical.
Laser welding has existed for more than thirty years. The intense heat of the beam melds two pieces together to form a joint. This robotic welding system is highly efficient and fast in creating a uniform appearance.
Challenges To Using Welding Robots
As with any technology, there is an initial cost involved. So automotive manufacturing has been implementing greater use of robots over time. Of course, people need training for every new system to maintain efficient operation.
Another limitation is a robot’s ability to make decisions. With human control, adjustments to a process will happen quicker. New advances in AI technology will help robots make decision changes during manufacturing.
Robots are generally one-dimensional in their work. For example, welding robots can perform a single task with better efficiency. But a robotic welding system cannot learn to extend its capabilities. Welding automation takes a lot of floor space to operate.
Automotive manufacturing is generally performed in large plants. Yet, the size of some welding robots can restrict smaller businesses from using them.
Advantages of Robotic Welding
Many reasons to use welding automation far outweigh the cons for automotive manufacturing. Increased efficiency is a significant advantage for reducing costs. Welding robots are more productive and precise in the completion of repetitive tasks.
As a result, fewer errors are made, and less valuable material is wasted. There are fewer quality issues which save automotive manufacturing the cost of recalls. Then, less time to complete each task results in faster production and more output.
Floor space can have more efficient use with fewer people. Instead of many assembly workers, there are a few control people to maneuver. The robotic welding system has more room to operate on the production floor.
Yet, the most significant advantage might be safety. There is less likelihood of injury with fewer people on the assembly floor. Exposure to chemicals or other elements may harm humans and not welding robots.
Welding automation never tires of performing the same tasks over and over. Human resources are more efficient with less stress and fatigue as a result.
All these benefits combined add up to enormous cost savings for automotive manufacturing. Better products in less time and made in a safe environment resulting in less downtime in production. Labor then can learn to transition into more complicated processes.
The Future of Welding in Automotive Manufacturing
More companies will rely on a robotic welding system with advances in technology. EV vehicles and self-driving cars will need even more precise assembly. As a result, manufacturers will need welding robots for more processes.
Robotics is already an integral part of manufacturing in many industries. Yet, auto manufacturing is still one of the most prominent in the world. Companies expect technology to evolve with their needs.
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