Robotic welding becomes a must at Burel Group

The shortage of welders, the economy, flexibility, agility and quality of work of a Valk Welding robotic welding cell prompted agricultural machinery manufacturer Burel Group to expand its cooperation with the Dutch supplier.

In the agricultural sector, Burel Group, with 300 employees and total sales of over 65 million euros, was founded in 1936. With three sites in France and one in Italy, this family-owned company specialises in the design, manufacture and sale of tractor-mounted machinery for tillage, seeding and fertilising. The workshops supply 4,000 speeders, fertiliser spreaders, harrows, discs and tines to the whole world every year, as over 60% of the machines are exported.

In Chateaubourg (35), the Burel Group has a 20,000 m² factory inaugurated in 2011 for the production of its machines.
The plant operates in 2x8 hour shifts with the possibility of working in 3x8 hour shifts for assembly, on certain presses and welding robots.

“At the Châteaubourg plant, several activities are performed: forming with bending, punching and preparing the elements for welding. After welding, the assemblies are sent to the painting department with blasting and surface treatment. Once finished, the parts are fed to the assembly lines,” explains Eric Massard, welding and production engineer.
“While maintaining a small footprint, robotic welding is necessary because it is difficult to find qualified operators, especially for welded assemblies that require special visual attention or high added value. More recently, we have been considering the installation of a flexible and manoeuvrable system well suited for small runs with quick tool changes. The system is equipped with a double reel to change wire in less than two minutes,” he continued.

In spring 2021, the Burel group invested in a fully equipped workroom (vapor handling, overhead crane coverage, digitizing) to house the robotic welding cell designed by Valk Welding.

The unit includes an L-type rotary positioner with two stations for loading/unloading parts into the cell while the robot welds. “The six-axis robot welds on one side while the operator cleans and removes the completed assembly on the other side. After that, the operator loads the next part onto a jig and fixes it, before switching the two stations.”

The system, combined with the positioner, which has two rotary axes, one vertical and one horizontal, contains a total of eight axes. The cell is equipped with rapid mould changeover using three zero-point centring units. These options reduce non-productive times to less than ten minutes during changeovers. The cell is completely enclosed so that the heated workshop air is not extracted. A supply of outside air allows the treatment of vapours and saves energy associated with heating the building.

The economical, robust and reliable Valk welding cell currently processes 15 different parts with cycle times ranging from 1.5 minutes to 55 minutes. Among other things, the cell produces a complex welded assembly, a weighing hook. This part, which is used intensively, must always be dimensionally stable and regular, as it provides the instant weighing function on the range’s manure dividers.

“We design our implements in-house. After the offline programming phase (DTPS), the tools are validated and then integrated into production,” explains Marvin Hillion, production welding methods technician at UAP. “The welds must be absolutely controlled with no porosity. Indeed, we noticed that some rust was coming out of the welds. So, we remain vigilant on their quality by avoiding sharp edges and by removing the smallest hole where cataphoresis cannot enter at the risk of starting a corrosion point,” he continued.

Indeed, since 2019, the Burel Group has offered its customers a seven-year warranty against corrosion. And as with welding, the preparation of parts before painting is very meticulous for a result that must meet this requirement.

What we appreciate about Valk Welding is their great mastery of the trade and their genuine support, as they are welding specialists rather than roboticists. Thanks to this cooperation, we can machine sheet metal from 1 mm thick to sheet metal up to 35 mm thick for chassis and structures,” Eric Massard concludes.


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