An Interconnected Arc Welding Robot Solution fit for Industry 4.0
Significantly improved robot system performances and an increased ease of use open up new automation solutions, many of which are outside the “classic” applications of industrial robots. Furthermore, robot manufacturers and system integrators are increasingly supplying flexible work cells with standard configurations, which can be rapidly integrated into existing production systems for standard applications. / Case studies from companies that have improved manufacturing performance by integrating robots into smart factory strategies.
An Interconnected Arc Welding Robot Solution fit for Industry 4.0
Mar 05, 2020 — Roboteco SpA recently developed a robotic welding cell for its customer Steel-Tech aimed at improving production and inserting into the production process a new machine that is totally interconnected with all stages of the manufacturing process.
With the installation of the new robotic cell, Steel-Tech aims to unify its processes, interconnecting the machines to increase speed and enable tracking and quality control the production flows in a systematic and reliable way.
Through its production management software, Steel-Tech is able to monitor and manage all the main machines in the factory; transferring production orders, controlling production flow and cycle times and, finally, observing the results.
Panasonic Desk Top Programming & Simulation DTPS allows off-line robot weld program development in a virtual 3D space followed by direct machine upload and interfacing with production management programs.
System interconnection allows parameter and quantity control enabling cycle control and optimisation.
The production management software automatically downloads analyses and saves the data from the welding robot in its own archive. One of the main benefits is having total interconnection of the production process starting from the offline programming, through the control of the production process and the parameters, to the tele-monitoring services in case of fault.
The Arc Welding Robot Solution
The cell developed by Roboteco-Italargon after a preliminary study phase together with the customer is composed of a Panasonic TAWERS TIG arc welding robot model TM-1400 with filler metal and two working stations with turn-tilt positioners.
TAWERS (The Arc Welding Robot Solution) robot is a unique architecture in which a single CPU controls and monitors the robot movement synchronized with the filler metal feeding and welding parameter control – “All in One” welding solution from one manufacturer. Integrated into the weld system is the Human Machine Interface Teach Pendant to facilitate program creation.
A single source software and a user-friendly HMI allow the operator to create and optimise welding programs using the wide range of functions available through the Teach Pendant and utilizing specific subprograms.
For example, the Welding Navigator subprogram assists the operator by calculating the welding parameters through selection of workpiece variables (material, thickness etc.) using data derived from extensive research.
The specific design of Panasonic TAWERS TIG torch simplifies the welding process. The wire is inclined towards the welding pool with an angle of precisely 30° and is pre-heated by passing close to the arc. By means of this special torch configuration the robot programmer can focus on TCP (the tungsten electrode) without having to worry about wire positioning, gaining high flexibility and better torch positioning.
This Panasonic torch design can easily support all robot functions including AVC (Arc Voltage Control), the adaptive software that allows to keep stick-out (distance between electrode and workpiece) constant.
Data Management and Industry 4.0
Roboteco-Italargon and Steel-Tech have agreed to make intensive use of arc welding data management software.
Through adaptive control, the CPU of the robot supplies and controls all process parameters (current, voltage, welding speed, wire speed, wire feeder servo motor’s electrical consumption etc.) and arc welding data management software allows the user to set alarm ranges, to view them remotely via an external PC and to record them in logs filed by welding section.
The robot system is also equipped with the Roboteco Industry 4.0 kit that allows interconnection with Steel-Tech general management software.
Roboteco Industry 4.0 kit is the result of a study with the goal of making interconnection of the robotic cell with external environment easy and flexible and enabling data and information exchange. For example transfer of production orders, quantity of pieces to produce compared with the pieces already produced, real welding parameters compared with set parameters, cycle time, robot alarms and status and many other available information.
All information is extrapolated from the robot in an external PLC with dedicated HMI and with a simple library open to be connected with all the main software languages (HTML, VB, C#, Java, etc.).
This kit could also enable remote access from a mobile device by implementing web pages, accessible via mobile devices (tablet, smartphone, etc.) external to the company network or PC connected to the same line.; the same kit could enable the connection through FTP Server.
The industry 4.0 kit allows also for remote control of the machine; Roboteco-Italargon’s technician can access from the service offices the robot status and alarms. In this way the technicians could analyse possible faults and cooperate with customer to solve them remotely.
Desk Top Programming & Simulation System (DTPS)
In order to make the programming more efficient, Steel-Tech utilizes the offline programming software Panasonic DTPS.
DTPS is a simulation software developed exclusively for Panasonic robots. With this software, users can create and edit robot programs and verify robot motion offline. DTPS enables a smooth transfer of robot programs from office PC to the robot controller.
DTPS makes it possible to run the robot program on the PC in simulation and optimise the robot movement with the corresponding welding parameters offline.
By importing the 3D CAD files of the pieces to be welded, the company can utilize DTPS to verify the accessibility of the robot in each position of the pieces to be welded, evaluate the cycle time, avoid collision, program the robot movement and all process parameters and edit or modify it by PC and various other functions which make it an indispensable tool for optimising welding processes.
The benefits are the reduction of welding cell machine downtime, time saving of programming welding lines by using special macros in DTPS software and analysis of product costs through process simulation.
Today Steel-Tech is utilizing the new welding robot for welding stainless steel parts for one of tis distinguished customer; the welding programs were designed totally in the 3D environmental of DTPS and transferred to the robot with the production orders.
Integrating the sophisticated TAWERS welding system with the Roboteco Industry 4.0 kit and DTPS under a general production management software enables complete process interconnectivity and smart data feedback. Understanding in real time the performance of the production processes allows for early identification of errors or uncharacteristic machine performance, which could help to avoid major faults and thus reduce downtime. Combining DTPS with weld data feedback allows for optimisation of cycle time leading to maximised output rates. With Industry 4.0 kit the robot is interconnected with Steel-Tech production management software that oversees also other machines and phases of the production exchanging with them data in term of IoT.
About the companies
Roboteco SpA was founded in 1988, having sensed a growing need in the market for automated arc welding and, thanks to the almost thirty-year partnership with Panasonic Welding System, Roboteco has specialized in the promotion and integration of Panasonic TAWERS technology, a revolutionary fully integrated welding robot solution, focusing on the Automotive and General Industry sectors. In 2017 Roboteco S.p.a. acquired Italargon, another historical brand manufacturer of robotic and automatic welding solutions. Since becoming Roboteco-Italargon, the company has continued to grow and has diversified from MIG and TIG to Laser Beam Welding (LBW).
Steel-Tech Srl is a company originally established as manufacturer of components for cereal mills and since has diversified towards a wider range mechanical metal processing. With the generational changeover, the company has evolved to introduce welding processes, mainly using TIG, in different sectors like medical, pharmaceutical, food & packaging and metal furniture.
The company development continued with the introduction of robotic TIG welding with a first Roboteco-Italargon cell some years ago and further today with a new robotic cell also equipped with TIG welding process and Panasonic TAWERS (The Arc Welding Robot Solution) system, but intended for integration into the new industry 4.0 company development.