A successful Australian Railway Bogie Manufacturer that produces large railway bogies carrying bulk raw materials between cities across the country recently faced difficult and intensive welding challenges amidst the current Skilled Labour Shortage.
This Australian Railway Bogie Manufacturer produces large railway bogies that carry bulk raw materials between cities throughout Australia.
The undercarriages of these railway bogies are constructed from large mild steel structures MIG-welded together by skilled tradesman.
This repetitive and intensive task consists of long weld seams that must be traced consistently and accurately across sections - some up to four metres long - to achieve secure, strong and reliable welds.
The arduous nature of this task requires prolonged concentration and physical strain, leaving the skilled tradesmen heavily worn out and requiring large break-times throughout the process in order to maintain work standards, and minimise risk to health and safety - inherent with the use of live welding equipment.
Many parts can require several hours of welding each to complete. Strain injuries are unfortunately quite common as a result of the prolonged concentration and physical exertion required.
The Bogie Manufacturer took on three skilled welding staff to handle the task, however given the difficult nature of the work and the continuing skills shortage, staff turnover was high and it soon became increasingly difficult to keep the positions filled.
With the developing re-staffing issue this created, a bottle-kneck began which had a follow-on effect that threatened production and impacted the entire manufacturing cycle as a result.
- MOTOMAN HP20-6 (extended reach version of HP-20 robot)
- MOTOMAN COMARC arc-tracking and touch sensing options
- OTC DP500 Digital inverter pulse welder
- MOTOMAN MT1 1000 servo-powered 2-axis Positioner
- Robotic Automation servo-powered Traverse Track with 4 metres travel
- Robotic Automation Safety Guarding System
- Robotic Automation Torch Cleaning Station with pneumatic spatter-cleaner and wire-cutter
After consulting closely with the Railway Bogie Manufacturer, and understanding the manpower problem they were facing, Robotic Automation's engineering team developed an integrated robotic welding solution with a fully synchronised 2-axis work-piece positioner and a 4-metre robot traverse-track.
Together, these machines provide three external axes of movement orientating the part to the robot's proximity with the part as it performs each weld.
In addition, the 6-axis body of the robot enables it to position the torch at optimum angle constantly.
The MOTOMAN NX-100 controller synchronises the entire process, this machine itself capable of controlling 27 more axes of movement - or a further three synchronised robots - if required.
Possibly the most important part of this robotic soltuion provided by Robotic Automation is the fact that the MOTOMAN HP20-6 extended reach robot, MOTOMAN MT1 1000 positioning system, and the MOTOMAN NX-100 controller's memory are flexible enough to handle a varying series of undercarriage parts welds performing detailed, difficult and labour intensive work without the need for a break or the intrinsic health and safety risks encountered by their human counterparts.
Advanced robotic functions specific to this production task enable the Robotic Automation solution to respond to the various welding challenges presented by the shape and surface variance of each individual work-part.
Touch sensing enables the MOTOMAN HP20-6 extended reach robot to confirm weld seam position before commencing, thereby ensuring weld quality throughout each weld from start to finish.
MOTOMAN COMARC arc-tracking allows the MOTOMAN HP20-6 extended reach robot to detect and respond in real time during the weld to any defects or variances, however slight, in the surface profile of each work-part.
The OTC DP500 digital welder uses Synchro Short-Pulse - a shorter, rigid arc to allow the MOTOMAN HP20-6 extended reach robot to weld at higher speed, with a more consistent droplet transfer, minimal spatter and better bead profile.
The Robotic Automation Torch Cleaning Station with pneumatic spatter-cleaner and wire-cutter enables the MOTOMAN HP20-6 extended reach robot to regularly spray-clean its torch head and gas nozzles to keep them free of any spatter and ensure they are flowing freely.
The station also trims the welding wire precisely to ensure the perfection of the next weld-start.
- Longer welds
- Continuous welds
- Consistent welds
- Improved weld appearance
- Higher weld quality with greater strength
- Improved staff health and safety
- Improved productivity
- Reduced costs and lost time due to weld error
- Elimination of costs associated with OH & S
- Elimination of cost and lost production time associated with staff breaks
- Reduced labour costs and associated management/admin costs