How do manual welders and welding robots work together effectively?
Aleš Pokoj: “Short preparation time and fast execution make the difference”
Sheet metal processing is one of SixPointTwo’s core activities. Welding is an important part of that. SixPointTwo deploys welding robots as well as skilled workers for this purpose. The combination of humans and robots has a clear added value, according to Production Manager Aleš Pokoj: “It allows us to meet our customers’ requirements quickly.”
“For each job, we think about the best way to execute it: manually – or using a welding robot”, Aleš explains. “We use the two welding robots for large production series. Our team of manual welders mainly works on single pieces and small series.”
Own welding jigs for greater efficiency
The welding process is completely set up to ensure efficiency. All the tasks of the welding robots, for example, are programmed offline on the PC, and consequently the welding robot never has any idle time. Another time-saver: “We design and make all welding jigs, both for the welding robots and the manual welders, ourselves. This makes us very flexible when we plan and execute orders. Because we are not dependent on others, we can respond immediately to customer demand. This saves us a lot of time.” Some recent examples illustrate the short lead times: “We delivered 500 components to a new customer in intra-logistics. This included the making the welding moulds; we completed this order within two weeks. For a new customer in agribusiness, we recently made five items, in series of 250 to 500 pieces. This order took three weeks, which included three days for preparing the welding moulds.”
Besides efficiency, quality is obviously a priority. When designing welding jigs, SixPointTwo uses the poka-yoke principle for good reason. “Each welding jig is designed to ensure that the welder cannot position the materials incorrectly.” It also employs state-of-the-art equipment from renowned companies. For instance, the welding robots are from Panasonic. Both manual welders and operators of the welding robots use Siegmund welding tables, which guarantee short preparation times. Cloos welding machines are also used.
Methods and materials
SixPointTwo has eight welding boxes and three sanding booths. “We can guarantee consistent quality since the eight welding boxes are identical.” The modern work areas are fully equipped in conformity with the requirements for safe and healthy working. The techniques used are MIG/MAG welding, and TIG welding with and without filler rod. The materials welded are steel, stainless steel and aluminium. “For example, our manual welders have worked on the aluminium frames that form the basis for Boat Lifts.” Components for cars are also manually welded. “These components have to meet specific requirements. We conduct penetration tests according to a checklist, to verify that the components are watertight.”
Investing in people
SixPointTwo’s two welding robots are operated by well-trained operators. SixPointTwo’s manual welders are selected with great care. “They must have the right qualifications, but that is not all. We also ask applicants to perform a trial job. The leader of the manual welders’ team puts together the trial job and assesses how the candidate performs the trial. He then decides whether or not the manual welder can be hired.” If the welder is hired, he is intensively supervised and familiarised with instructions and working procedures for the first few months. “The team leader also participates in this process; in fact, he is responsible for onboarding the new employees.”
The in-house advantage
The welding department contributes to SixPointTwo’s competitive edge in sheet metal processing, Aleš concludes. “Welding is something we do totally in-house. In the same manner, laser cutting, powder coating and assembly are also done in-house at SixPointTwo. The fact that we use manual welders and welding robots and design and make the welding jigs ourselves is a major advantage in this regard. This ensures that we are fast and flexible. Moreover, we need very little preparation time. If we have a good 3D model or a clear drawing, we can get straight to work.”
Wondering what SixPointTwo can do for your company with welding? If so, please contact Iman Landheer, tel +31 6 4224 3466, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.