Robot welding at Olympic level

As one of the leading international suppliers of industrial sealing technologies, the German company EagleBurgmann supplies products that meet the highest quality requirements. Pressure vessels are used in many systems, of which the welding of the final assemblies is a technically sophisticated process. Years of knowledge and experience ensure success. EagleBurgmann has recently taken the first steps towards robotized welding. Because the process has to be extremely reliable and most of the welding work has to be TÜV approved, the manufacturer first goes through an intensive start-up phase. "First go and then walk. The first careful steps have now been taken," describes Michael Bourhenne, Operations Director at EagleBurgmann Germany GmbH & Co. KG, the process.


EagleBurgmann in search of optimal robot welding of pressure vessels

EagleBurgmann Germany belongs to the Freudenberg Group, a global group with 5,800 employees. With high quality, local service and a high innovative strength, the group provides a comprehensive product portfolio for almost all industrial processes and applications. The pressure vessels manufactured in Erausburg (Upper Bavaria) are a crucial component of sealing systems for the petrochemical and oil and gas industries in particular.

High quality welding process

8 Certified welders master the TIG multilayer welding process with supply wire down to the smallest detail. The pressure vessels thus meet the highest quality requirements. "After all, we have to be able to guarantee 100% reliability for our customers. Our TIG welding is part of the Olympic discipline in this process. Much is demanded of our colleagues. In addition to the skills needed to weld the saucer-shaped bottom parts with 100% penetration, it is also important for the operator or welder to be able to spatially imagine how the product or part is to be welded and how the robot moves.
However, the manual process is difficult and monotonous. If you want to make work easier and increase production capacity, robotization is the only solution. Using robots also offers the advantage of continuity. Unfortunately, robots lack the flexibility of a welder," explains Ludwig Gaar (Operations Manager Manufacturing Supply Systems Machining / Welding).


Selection based on competence

In order to find a welding robot integrator that could robotize this high-quality welding process, EagleBurgmann spoke with various suppliers at the Schweissen und Schneiden trade fair in 2017. "Based on their competence in both robot and welding and Panasonics All-in-One concept (all components are controlled by 1 CPU) we decided to continue with Valk Welding," says Michael Bourhenne. Tailored to the requirements of Eagle Burgmann, a concept was developed based on a turntable solution with 2 C-manipulators and freely programmable turning and tilting functions. The TL-1800 WG3 welding robot has been set up at a working angle to make clamping the large pressure vessels and assemblies as ergonomic as possible.

Looking for optimum

The pressure vessels are made in project-specific series of approx. 30 pieces (engineering to order). Although the basis is always the same, the number of variations is large. Depending on the wall thickness, the bottom parts are welded up to 3 layers to the ø 220 mm round vessel with weld seam preparation. Both parts are always pre-attached in the same position, so that the welding robot can take this into account. Ludwig Gaar: "The challenge is that the temperature of the first weld seam must not be too high before the next layer can be welded. You can take advantage of the cooling period by turning the table and welding on the other workstation. In this way, we are constantly looking for the optimum. The intention is that we can use the welding robot system 10 hours a day at the end of the year and in 2 shifts next year.

Learning and testing phase

All welds are visually inspected in house before being inspected by TüV welding experts. "That process may take a long time, but we had factored it in. We still have a lot to learn and the processes need to be optimized. Here we say: 'First go and then walk'. We are fortunate that our welders are also very interested in the new robot technology. This is a positive sign for the implementation in production, even if it is a subject that still requires change management," concludes Michael Bourhenne.

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