The golden link between small and large series production.
Until now, there have been two main methods of welding in manufacturing: robot welding cells and manual welding. A robot welding cell is ideal for the production of large batches but lacks flexibility and requires strict safety conditions. This makes it an inefficient and costly solution. In contrast, hand welding is a good solution if small, changing batches need to be welded by certified personnel.
However, what if your production company falls between these extremes? For example, if you produce a series of 100 to 1,000 pieces and these series are often different product types? AWL has developed a perfect solution: Qube – the cobot (collaborative robot) welding cell.
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Stephan Pruiksma (Innovation Manager at Omron Benelux) and Tom Vrugteveen (Development Engineer at AWL) will explain to you why Qube is the golden link between small and large series production.
This cell resembles an ordinary robot welding cell: a robot with a welding torch enclosed by four walls, a turntable with two working sides, and a welding fumes extractor. However, there are two important differences: the integration of a manual turntable and the cobot that does the welding. With this cobot welding cell, you can weld different types of metal, such as steel and aluminum, with MIG/ MAG. Due to the size of the turntable, various parts of different sizes can be connected. There are three key benefits to Qube: flexibility, efficiency, and safety.
Due to the rapid (up to 45% faster than a traditional robot) and simple programming of the cobot, no specialist programmer is required. Instead, a certified manual welder can program the cobot. A production employee can then safely continue production, and the welding expert can move on to the next product. With the increasing scarcity of qualified welding personnel, this is an important advantage, especially for smaller production companies. The cobot welding cell is ideal for welding different, rapidly changing products using the same cell.
Qube can be used flexibly. As it has a small footprint, it takes up little space on the work floor. It’s easy to transport due to its weight: the cell can be lifted by a forklift truck or an overhead crane for flexible use in the workplace.
The rotary table allows the welder to work simultaneously with the cobot, which can lead to cycle times that are up to 50% shorter. The cobot welds with a repeating accuracy of one-tenth of a millimeter, ensuring consistent product quality – more consistent than welding by hand. The chance of rejected parts is therefore smaller.
Everything has a fixed place within the cell, so the cobot can be moved around freely during programming. The welding expert can learn and assess the new weld in the cell together with the cobot, without the welder being in danger. After programming, any other employee can continue the welding process and only needs to control the supply of products to be welded. Working with the cobot welding cell is safe due to the shielding and safety equipment. It has CE approval for every product that is taught.
As an independent system integrator, AWL integrates various brands of robots into machines, as we do with Qube. Still, we see a lot of potential in the OMRON cobot. Due to the graphical representation of the cobot, it is easy to program for almost everyone. OMRON and AWL have joined forces and chosen to enter into a global partnership to develop and distribute the first and only truly mature solution in cobot welding: Qube.