Increasing production efficiency at Chemet S.A.

The CHEMET Group, which includes CHEMET S.A. in Poland and CHEMET GLI SAS in France, is Europe’s largest supplier of a full range of products and services for the LPG and other liquid gas markets. Today, the company is the largest European manufacturer of LPG storage and transport solutions, covering almost the entire LPG distribution chain: from stationary domestic tanks to cylinders, large storage tanks, LPG station modules, tankers and rail tank cars. The CHEMET Group has nearly 80 years of experience in designing, developing and manufacturing pressure vessels for various hazardous media (LPG, LNG, ammonia, chlorine, hydrogen). CHEMET provides its services both to multinational and individual customers.

Chemet S.A.

In the beginning, there were concerns

The introduction of the new robotic welding technology initially raised many concerns. Welding parts for rail cars requires extremely strict standards and the maintenance of tight tolerances. The bar is also raised by the all-important fact that these are tank cars used to transport hazardous materials. “After an initial analysis of the parts, subassemblies and assemblies that we felt had the greatest chance of success, we began discussions with Valk Welding to identify all of our requirements, as well as the potential risks that could arise during the project. The implementation of robotic stations for welding assemblies and subassemblies of tank supports and car frames was an extraordinary challenge,” said Artur Lepszy, welding technologist at CHEMET S.A.

Implementation of a robotic workstation in manufacturing

“To increase confidence in the success of implementing a new robotic welding technology, it makes sense to draw on the experience and expertise of professionals. Our choice was obvious. The equipment was purchased as a complete station including implementation in production. To see if the supplier met our requirements, we performed welding tests on our workpieces at Valk Welding. The tests carried out enabled us to fine-tune the specification parameters of the individual workstations to fully meet the requirements and objectives of robotizing the entire process.” - Says Michal Majzner, senior design engineer responsible for the welding robot implementation process at CHEMET S.A.

CHEMET adapted robotic welding under an already existing production process. Welding jigs were also designed to clamp the welded parts in the form of frames, making the entire process as repeatable as possible. Valk Welding programmed the complete welding process for the parts selected at CHEMET for the robotic station. This allowed production to start almost immediately.
Virtual offline robot programming is an extremely useful feature for such large and complex programs. As a result, changing or improving a working program takes only minutes instead of hours.

Tasks for welding robots at CHEMET

Robots make it possible to significantly speed up the production process, eliminate repetitive and lengthy human tasks and, most importantly, ensure high and reproducible quality of welded joints. Currently, robots weld bushings and support pins for LPG tanks, elements of wagon frames as subassemblies and large elements of wagon frames (so-called tracks) on which pressure vessels are mounted.

Large dimensional deviations - can the robot handle that?

“Designing new tooling has helped to reduce deviations, but we cannot reduce them to zero. Therefore, the robot must be equipped with a full suite of sensors so that it can self-monitor the position of the workpiece and automatically correct the motion trajectory. This includes the use of touch sensing technology for the welding wire. The uniqueness of the touch sensing of the Valk Welding welding robot lies in the increased detection voltage, which significantly increases the accuracy and repeatability of detection, even on highly contaminated workpieces,” said Paweł Kałuża, chief welder at CHEMET S.A.

Changes brought about by robots

The company’s target criterion before the introduction of the robotic workstation was to increase production capacity by at least 50%. But above all, quality was also significantly increased thanks to the total repeatability of the entire process. “The process of robotization is a continuous process where technology is constantly being developed and problems are being solved that were previously not considered relevant or even noticed. Nevertheless, so far we are very satisfied with the robotization of selected workstations, as it not only makes production more flexible and faster, but also increases the quality of products manufactured by CHEMET,” said Katarzyna Głowik - Technical Director of CHEMET S.A.

Why Valk Welding?

Cooperation with the robot installation supplier does not end with the purchase of the robot, but is planned as a continuous process. It starts with the joint development of the concept of the most optimal booth, followed by the selection of suitable tools, then the comprehensive and efficient implementation of the project in reality and ends with the training of the employees who operate the robotized plant. The technical implementation of the programs at the start-up of the station is one thing, another - equally important - is the supplier’s approach to post-sales support. The team at Valk Welding provides support in creating new programs and taking over the robot to work on realizations for new product groups. “What was decisive for our decision was Valk Welding’s experience in welding huge structures, their programming knowledge and access to DTPS software for virtual offline robot programming in 3D.”- said Artur Lepszy CHEMET S.A.

Future plans

“Based on the acquired knowledge and skills, we are constantly thinking about expanding the number of robot installations in our organization. We already know that there is a very high probability that in the near future we will be able to write again about a successful implementation of more robots on our production line.” - said Michal Majzner CHEMET S.A.


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