Cobots Boost Production 200% on TIG and MIG Welding and 600% on Machine Tending for Metal Fabricator
01 The Short story
02 The Business Transformation
Watch how UR cobots enabled Raymath to significantly expand production
03 How They Did It
After the success of its first MIG welding cobots, Raymath took on more complex TIG welding
CEO of THG Automation, Matt Hendey (left) invited Raymath President, Greg LeFevre to bring parts he needed welded to THG. It only took LeFevre four hours to learn how to program 20 points on THG Automation’s UR cobot based MIG welding system. He wrote a purchase order the same night.
The dexterity of the 6-axis UR cobot has dramatically increased the speed of the TIG welding process. “Before, the welder had to manually rotate and manipulate the fixture,” says robotics specialist at Raymath, Nick Ogle. “Now the robot moves instead of the part moving, which means we can weld anywhere from two to six times faster than doing it by hand.”
Beyond welding, Raymath also turned to UR for its machine tending automation needs, adding the UR cobot-based ProFeeder machining cells from ProCobots to its two 3- and 5-axis Hurco CNC machines.
Nick Ogle (right) programs the UR cobot based TIG welder from THG Automation, developed by THG CEO Matt Hendey (right) and his team. “Ogle, a manual welder by trade, found the system easy and intuitive to use. “I simply move the robot arm where it needs to be for the weld, and at the correct angle, then use the teach pendant to save the point,” he says, adding that UR and THG is the first time he ever used collaborative robots. “I was very surprised at the ease of use.”
The welds Raymath produces with the UR cobot based TIG and MIG weld systems from THG Automation can vary from linear welds to circle welds to weave welds, uphill, downhill, and horizontal with the thickest material being up to about half an inch. “You can really do any position or kind of weld that you need to,” says Nick Ogle, robotics specialist at Raymath. “We can do circle welds now without stopping.”
With the UR cobots deployed in four weld cells, Raymath can have fewer people attend multiple units. “Other robots we looked at we had to fixture it to the nth degree, but we couldn’t justify building fixtures for all the different parts we have,” says Raymath President, Greg LeFevre. “With the UR cobots, we can simply put them on a weld table with minimal manual fixturing.”
Larry Dare, CNC machining supervisor at Raymath had no prior robotics experience. “The programming itself is straightforward,” he says. “The robot has a general path that it follows to take the part into the machine. All you’re teaching it is from that point to the vise and where to place the part in the vise.”
- Expanded production to meet customer needs
- Ability to automate high mix/low volume production with frequent change-overs
- Automated third-shift in lights-out production setup, addressing labor shortages
- Complex MIG and TIG welding previously done manually now automated with cobots 2x-6x faster
- Operators able to fixture and operate several welding cells simultaneously
- Productivity in machining cells increased by 600% due to added machine uptime
- ROI in less than 12 months
- Fully integrated CNC machine tending
- Automated TIG and MIG welding
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Cost-effective, safe and flexible collaborative robots - or cobots- are making automation easier than ever, even for the small and mid-sized companies.