Panasonic Robot Handles Welding of Large Booms
by Rich Shive
Panasonic Factory Solutions Company
Iowa Mold Tooling Company, (Garner, Iowa), produces cranes for material handling and other applications. The process involves welding heavy sections of low carbon steel, ranging in thickness from ½- to 1-in. They sought a robotic product to weld large booms that are often considered difficult or impossible using robots.
Size was the major problem IMT faced to robotically weld large booms, which often reach 18-ft in overall length. Larry Snyder, manager of manufacturing operations, says, "This size is generally considered impossible for robotic welding."
IMT with the help of Minneapolis-based systems integrator Productivity Welding Inc. (PWI) successfully achieved the goal of automation with Panasonic's AW-006AL robot.
Panasonic's motion control required only the arc's start location, stop location and required travel speed to be programmed. Synchronized and simultaneous three-axis control, including the motion of servo-driven positioners for complex weldments, was achieved.
The system automatically coordinated the robot motion with a 25-ft. long track unit and a
2,000-kg Panasonic Dice headstock/tailstock. This resulted in the arc motion being uniformly maintained while following a pre-taught welding path.
- Manually welding an 18-ft boom previously required 11 man-hours. The forecast with the AW-006AL, was 2 hours. However, the actual labor was reduced to 1.75 man-hours, better than originally predicted.
- Panasonic's AW-006AL robot cut labor costs more than 75% and boosted productivity more than 420%.
- Programming time was slashed from 30 to 2 minutes, a 93% reduction.