Keltech excels thanks to the support of Valk Welding

For more than a decade, global supply chains have struggled with a shortage of welding capacity. Companies can barely keep up with the demand for welded products. Some companies even speak of a welding crisis. The always proactive Irish supplier Keltech saw an opportunity in this threat to combine advanced robotic welding technology with old-fashioned craftsmanship. In doing so, Keltech has managed to offer its customers a stable supply. "Our company has experienced record growth in the past 12 months. Without the support of Valk Welding, this would not have been possible," says Seamus Lawlor, Director of Business Development at the company.


Along with Senior Process Engineer Piotr Starosciak, Seamus Lawlor is responsible for the implementation of robotic welding within Keltech. "Our industry has a real welding problem. Lack of skills is the main driver. Welders from central Europe have returned to continental Europe and the younger generation does not see this trade as a viable option. After COVID-19, we took the step to expand by 50,000 m2, with provision for 30 new welding bays and space for state-of-the-art robotic welding systems completely dedicated to welding.

Preferred supplier globally for renowned OEM brands

As a preferred supplier to globally known OEM brands, the company specialises in the production of acoustic enclosures, hydraulic/fuel tanks, cabins, and telecom enclosures. "We produce complex metal structures for Caterpillar, Combilift, Moffett, Manitou, Liebherr and Volvo CE, among others. We have the full capacity here to deliver fully finished and coated products from concept to reality." explains Lawlor.

High mix, low volume

"The new K3 facility needed to be a mix of manual and robotic welding to grow without relying too much on manual welders. The first challenge was transitioning from manual to robotic welding for hydraulic tanks and forklift parts in a high mix, low volume environment. In the years before, we had made contacts with robotic integrators, before eventually choosing Valk Welding as our supplier," says Piotr Starosciak. "They had a different concept and a different way of manipulating and could also provide us with the necessary support."

600 km of welding in 2022, 7.500 tons of steel per year, 800-1000 tanks per week

Support from Valk Welding

Spread over the year, Valk Welding supplied two identical systems consisting of a Panasonic TM welding robot on a track with a drop centre manipulator on which the workpiece is mounted. "Where other robot integrators only explain how their robot works, Valk Welding taught us how to weld a product on the robot. So, we didn't just want to buy welding robots, but also the knowledge. To this end, after the installation of the first robot, two specialists from Valk Welding spent two weeks in-house to guide us step by step through offline programming, fixturing, seam searching and correction. After four weeks, we had gained enough knowledge and experience to start working independently, but we are still learning every day," continued Piotr Starosciak.

Capacity for one customer almost tripled

"Our biggest challenge was to weld the tanks on the robot without leaks. After several adjustments in the programs, we managed to reduce that to a maximum of only one leak which is a huge difference from before. After the pressure test, we can repair this quickly if necessary. Through fine-tuning we also managed to reduce the welding time by 30 percent, which allowed us to increase capacity from 48 to 120 tanks per week for one particular customer."

Flexible production

"When installing the 2nd welding robot, the goal was to be able to robotically weld Over Head Guards for forklifts in addition to tanks. For this, again with the support of Valk Welding, we learned how to program a new product and also how to transfer the welding programs for the tanks from one robot to the other. A stable delivery of high-quality products is what our customers demand. With our recent investments in welding robot technology combined with our skilled workers, we can now meet that," concludes Seamus Lawlor.


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