As the decision process evolves, the vendor and the fabricator will continue working together to determine the appropriate system accessories, including safety devices, the optimal layout for the robotic cell, manpower and training requirements, and service and maintenance requirements (internal vs. outside vendor support).
The robot cell layout must consider not just providing space for the work motion device, power source, robot controller and wire feed package, but how the piece part is delivered to the area, and how the finished part leaves the area. Work flow simplicity characterizes a good cell layout.
Watch Out for Pitfalls
It should be clear by now that the vendor who views the order for a robotic welding system as a one-time-opportunity sale will not provide the total support net that is key to the customer's success. A vendor who understands the fabricator's business, and how to produce that fabricator's product with or without robotics, will provide vital input during the lengthy decision and design phase, as well as essential ongoing support after the system is on-line.
Worker and environmental safety factors give robotic welding systems another edge in the cost-justification process. Failure to comply with OSHA and EPA standards can be expensive. Lastly, developments in electrode technology and welding torches, when combined with automation enhanced with vision systems, permit welding at speeds great enough to achieve overall cost reductions.
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