While others decided to produce cheaper in China, the Belgium manufacturer of aluminium climbing materials, Solide, chose to optimize the production and keep it in-house.
The result: extension from 2 to 4 welding robot installations, of which the last one equipped with the AWP (Active Wire Process) for aluminium welding. Production manager Jan van Aerschot: ‘’Our 7-rung scaffoldings are now welded 30% faster with it.’’
Solide is a well-known brand in the field of aluminium scaffoldings, step scaffoldings, and basic scaffolding. Jan van Aerschot: ‘’With the brand Solide, we focus on the professional market, that is why our scaffoldings can withstand intensive use, to which we add 10 years of guarantee on manufacturing defects. Solide scaffoldings and scaffolding are exclusively sold via retail trade in surrounding countries.’’
PRODUCING MORE FLEXIBLE AND FASTER
Solide sticks to the strategy to only focus on the retail trade, and in that way keep the quality as high as possible. To be able to produce that profitably, Solide wanted to increase the flexibility and speed where possible. That is the reason the welding production of the 7-rung scaffoldings was taken over to a Valk Welding system, using a Panasonic robot. Until recently, these scaffoldings were welded with a Reis robot. The aim was to decrease both the welding time and the changing time.
3 WORKSTATIONS IN LINE ARRANGEMENT
With Valk Welding, which installed the first arc-welding robot at Solide in 1992, a concept was made based on a Panasonic TM-1800WG3 suspende welding robot on a gallow construction and 3 workstations in line. The welding robot moves over a 12 m HLVP-VP-12000 track and one workstation is equipped with a quick exchange change system.
With this concept, Quick Touch wire searching was used for the first time for Solide, to check up front if the programmed position of the welding seam matches the actual situation. Jan van Aerschot: ‘’With Quick Touch, the robot scans the welding seam with the end of the welding wire, with which any deviations are automatically corrected by the welding robot.’’
USE OF ACTIVE WIRE FOR ALUMINIUM
Because the melting point of aluminium is lower than steel and stainless steel, the heat penetrates in the material fast at the start, which causes a higher risk of deformation. That is why Valk Welding used the Panasonic Active Wire Process System (AWP) for aluminium at Solide. Active Wire makes it possible to weld thin-sectioned materials quicker and without spatters. For that, the welding wire makes high frequency retracting movements during MIG welding, causing a very stable drop transition without spattering, and is obtained with much less heat input. For this welding technique, a welding torch with an integrated wire engine is used, and Active Wire software, which causes the wire movements. Solide uses 1.2 mm ø Aluminium welding wire from Valk Welding.
WELDING TIME GREATLY DECREASED
Jan van Aerschot: ‘’Thanks to the shorter changing times, the use of Quick Touch wire searching, and Active Wire, we could decrease the welding time by 30%. In addition, we now have to do less post-processing because of the smooth welds, and the accuracy has improved drastically.’’ Because we have high volume and constant products, offline programming has no added value for Solide. That is why Valk Welding took care of the entire programming for the cell. In order to prevent the operator entering the wrong program, the program was made in a way that the welding robot sees which product is in the fixture.
ALL GENERATIONS PANASONIC WELDING ROBOTS
While the first AW80W from 1992 at Solide is still operating, in the past 26 years respectively a VR006 (2000), a TA-1900WG2 (2010), and last year a TM-1800WG3 were installed at Solide. Jan van Aerschot: ‘’With those, we experienced the entire evolution regarding digitization. Every next generation has made an even shorter welding time and an improved quality possible.’’
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