Valk Welding was asked this summer by Hydrospex, a hydraulic heavy lifting systems producer, to deliver a welding robot with a short lead time.

Valk Welding was asked this summer by Hydrospex, a hydraulic heavy lifting systems producer, to deliver a welding robot with a short lead time. The company needed to weld a series of 800 tubular products for a new developed system in just a few months, a task that would involve temporarily employing 15 extra welders. A welding robot would be able to get the job done in 17 working days under fully continuous production. Managing Director Tjerko Jurgens wanted a welding robot cell straight away and could not afford to wait 3 months. Valk Welding was able to meet this demand and delivered an M3100 preferred welding cell, ready for use, within 1 week. The M3100 is a complete welding robot cell based on an H-frame concept with two 3m work stations, process control and full CE protection.

Hydrospex, The Heavy Lift Company, specialising in heavy transport, has developed into one of the world’s biggest suppliers of hoisting, raising and lifting systems. Without this company’s products and expertise the London Millennium Wheel would never have been put in place and the Russian submarine Kursk would probably still be resting on the seabed. At the establishment in Hengelo some 100 people develop solutions and build them for the world’s most widely ranging hoisting, lifting and tackling projects. Hydrospex recently delivered the control system and hydraulic components for the world’s biggest crane, which was comprehensively covered by the TV programme RTL Transport on 12 October 2008.

All disciplines under one roof

The fact that the hydraulics, mechanics and electronics disciplines work in close partnership at the company makes it possible for Hydrospex to quickly gear the various technologies to each other. Each department is therefore well equipped and uses the latest CNC equipment for fast, efficient and high quality work. Production is organised in small series ranging from 3 to a maximum of 10 articles. At the steel construction department, all of the construction sections are welded by hand by 30 people working in 3 shifts.

First large series

The requirements for heavy transport are becoming increasingly stringent. Tjerko Jurgens: “Whereas the maximum used to be a few thousand tons, it is now around the 10,000 ton mark. The systems needed for that are getting bigger and bigger, but because of the far-off destinations they still have to be transported in sea containers. For that reason we build large systems such as these in smaller, transportable sections. Since you need a lot of small parts to build something big, the number of articles is increasing, and so are the series sizes.”

New system

This is clearly illustrated by one of the new concepts currently being developed by Hydrospex. It is a new hoisting system consisting of hexagonal, tubular parts with a length of 1m, which are hydraulically lifted one by one up to a total height of 70 m. The concept is unique in terms of transport and fast construction at the location. 800 tube sections are needed for the first prototype.

Saving of 3 hours per product

Welding the tubular sections by hand takes about 3.5 hours, including welding on the top and bottom plates. The welding robot takes 30 minutes for the same task. With two stations, the M3100 welding robot cell makes it possible to clamp a product on one side while the robot welds the other. In the meantime, the operator can pre-attach and preheat the next sections in order to absorb the tension in the material during the welding process.

Good investment

Tjerko Jurgens does not expect the welding robots to be set aside once this project is finished. If the new concept catches on, the production could run up to 1 a month. “You can rest assured that now that Hydrospex has a welding robot, it won’t be long before it is used for more products. A good investment and a valuable addition to our production process.”



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