As one of the larger European manufacturers of boilers, the Czech company Benekov s.r.o. had to deal with a shortage of skilled manual welders, while the demand for their boilers increased significantly.
This was a reason for the company to work on robot automation. Valk Welding supplied a turn-key welding robot installation, equipped with 2 stations each equipped with a two-axis drop-center positioner. Benekov now welds three-quarters of all types in a fraction of the time and at a lower cost. This year the company expects to produce between 3.5 and 4 thousand boilers.
Benekov develops, produces and sells heating boilers that work on solid fuels, such as wood pellets and coal. The company invests heavily in the development of modern automatic boilers and is one of the pioneers in Europe with its biomass boilers. A subvention scheme created an explosive increase in the demand for new Ecodesign boilers in middle European countries. Owner Leopold Benda: "Already in 2012 we considered the use of
robots for welding production. However, the right impulse was lacking. We had sufficient manual welders and the investment was also a ‘thing’. Until in the period 2015-2016, production quadrupled and we ran into a shortage of manual welders."
Turn-key concept from Valk Welding appealed
Ever since Benekov started to study the possibilities of welding robotisation in their firm, contacts with Valk Welding CZ took place. Daughter and marketing director Klára Seitlová: "We have expanded our focus on the market, all the more because it was a major investment. But we wanted the best for our company. The turn-key concept of Valk Welding was the best solution. They not only build the complete cell, but they could also make the welding program for the product that we were going to weld on the robot. They also provide the necessary support in the start-up phase. We saw that as an important plus point. A visit to the Valk Welding headquarters in the Netherlands confirmed our image of a professional and stable organization and a far-reaching specialization in welding robotisation."
Welding robot on E-frame and 2 stations
At the end of 2015, the first welding robot system was delivered, consisting of a 6-axis Panasonic TL 2000WG3 welding robot on an Eshaped frame construction. The welding robot moves over a track to work on two workstations with 2 axis positioners. Based on the complex shapes of the inner and outer shell of the boiler housing, a drop center positioner was chosen. This allows the workpieces to be rotated in all positions so that the welding robot can optimally reach all positions to be welded. With the choice of 2 stations, the welding robot can continue to produce directly at one station, while the new workpiece is changed into the other station.
Valk Welding supplied the welding program for the production of one component, for which the welding robot was deployed for the first 10 months. Kamil Kubeša, CTO: ‘’We are now welding about 10 different parts on the welding robot. A competent employee has learned relatively quickly to program the workpieces for the welding robot. The operator previously worked as a welder.’’
Extra production capacity
Owner Leopold Benda: "The welding robot is now used in a 2-shift service for about 20 hours a day. This enabled us to create an extra production output, which would otherwise require 6 manual welders. In other words, 2 welders produce the same volume with the welding robot as 6 professional manual welders and deliver a consistently high welding quality."
Only the best manual welders on the robot
Klára Seitlová: "Four employees now work with the welding robot. We only let the best-trained manual welders work with the robot. Welding knowledge is a requirement for proper programming of a welding robot. A professional knows exactly in which position the robot torch needs to be programmed and in which order the best heat distribution in the workpiece is programmed."
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