The most difficult task in setting up an automated manufacturing cell often is to determine the right equipment that would be put to work in the cell to get the job done.

A new web-based tool has been developed by Motoman as a way to make that job easier for welding shops.

Motoman's new Weld Cell Wizard is designed around Motoman products, including its ArcWorld and FabWorld lines that include families of standard, pre-engineered products such as robot, welding equipment, part positioners and safety equipment to meet a variety of application needs.

“You input the basic information — part sizes, payloads, part orientation and cycle time requirements — and the Weld Cell Wizard does the rest,” Chris Anderson, technology leader for welding for Motoman, said.

A wide range of work cell configurations can be addressed with the Weld Cell Wizard, and it provides a comparison between production rates for work cells and the work cell utilization rate that is necessary to produce desired part volumes. It also helps shop owners to determine the return on their capital equipment investment in robots for a work cell.

Models for flexible work cells

Two years ago, ABB Robotics introduced its FlexArc robotic welding cells in several flexible and versatile standard modular packages.

The company said its FlexArc cells are designed to give users competitive advantages in areas where just-in-time production, product quality, process reliability and manufacturing flexibility are critical.

Now, ABB's has made its FlexArc Cells available in virtual computer forms in RobotStudio software as identical replicas of the real cell. Besides modeling the work cells, the software can be used to program the cells offline on a personal computer.

Companies that are thinking about installing their first robotic manufacturing/welding cell also can benefit from ABB's technical center that is equipped with an IRB1600 demonstration cell.

ABB has added different types of joining processes to that cell and takes customer samples and welds them.

Besides giving the customer an idea of what the system can do, Mark Oxlade, spokesman for ABB, said the demo cell helps to highlight the short-comings of methods that the potential customer has in place, and how welding can be done better. He said the demonstration work cell is especially important for first time buyers.

“Most companies that are exploring automation are looking for benefits that offer a three-fold or four-fold improvement in output to get a good return on their investment,” Oxlade said, adding that customers also expect quality to be much better with automated welding.

Oxlade said that a good demonstration run highlights the skills required to operate automated systems and helps a company to decide whether it needs to add an operator, programmer or welder with a new systems.

Combining advanced technologies

ABB Robotics and ESAB, a manufacturer of welding and cutting equipment, have joined forces to create a robotic welding system that the companies say will deliver unrivaled performance.

The two companies combined ABB's latest robotic technologies with ESAB's new Aristo-Mig 5000i power source to produce a system that they said offers better control over the welding process.

ABB said its robotic welding system reduces cycle time by as much as 15 percent and reduces unplanned downtime by as much as 75 percent.

Meanwhile, ESAB said it designed its Aristo-Mig 5000i series to be compatible with ABB's welding robots. It includes ESAB's SuperPulse technology that is designed to provide better control over the welding process, and a patented interface made for robotic MIG welding of a variety of metals.

The companies said the one-of-a-kind system supports a number of welding applications, including robotic short arc, spray arc, pulsed arc and rapid arc, and high-speed welding, and delivers superior performance.