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Wolf Robotics - Certified Robot Integrator

Wolf Robotics Interview

  1. Doug Rhoda, President and CEO, Wolf RoboticsTell me a little bit about your company.
    Wolf Robotics LLC has been an industry leader for over 30 years.  Our history dates back to the 1940’s but we didn’t get involved with robotics until 1978 when we were acquired by ESAB.  In 1993 ESAB sold the robotics portion of the business to ABB.  In 2003 Wolf Robotics was established with only 20 employees and we currently have over 130 positions. We have an installed base of over 8500 robots in a wide range of industries that are continuously expanding innovative designs and have created and produced solutions that meet or exceed our customers’ expectations.
     
     
  2. What are the primary industries you serve? What markets do you serve – global or domestic?
    We are strategically involved with the leading manufacturers of these industries (Off road, Construction, Oil & Gas, Mining, Agriculture, Transportation and Fabrication). Our current marketing efforts include North and South America but we will go into other global areas for the support of our customers including Germany, China, Italy and other countries.

     
  3. What is your vision for the company?
    Wolf Robotics embodies a noble mission and vision of being the “Best in the World at Automating Fabrication.”  Structuring the company with highly motivated people empowered with a cohesive vision of listening to customer problems, concerns and perspectives.  Dreaming alongside a team of talented and skilled employees who go the extra mile to develop new products and processes for customers on a global scale.  Wolf Robotics is committed to creating innovative solutions by representing design, development, installation and service of our products.  Wolf strives to solve the problems of our customers by creating systems that greatly improve their production, safety, quality and throughput.

     
  4. Why did you decide to become RIA certified?
    Our customers expect nothing less than the best from our systems, people and processes. Wolf Robotics continually strives to deliver that value and customer peace of mind with our relentless execution which includes ensuring that we meet the highest criteria when it comes to the stringent qualifications for robotic integration. The RIA organization is industry recognized and respected and the integrator certification program validates our capabilities to deliver as an integrator. Wolf Robotics is proud to be currently recognized as a certified robotic integrator by the Robotic Industries Association and to have been part of the very first class of integrators.

     
  5. Wolf Robotics SystemGive an example of a challenging application your company developed.
    Laser cladding uses a powdered metallic substance that is injected into the laser beam causing it to melt and adhere to the surface of the substrate.  This allows the repair of worn out parts while increasing and/or improving mechanical properties and corrosion resistance.  Utilizing the coordinated motion of the robot and positioner it is possible to build up the outer diameter of a spindle shaft that is no longer in tolerance.  The resulting surface is then remanufactured by grinding to the proper dimensions and the part is restored to a serviceable condition.  Often the finished surface is better than the original, due to the improved metallurgy components.

    Laser Cladding is being used in applications in the construction industry to repair and reclaim components (i.e. worn wheel spindles of large mining trucks). Companies are finding that robotic laser cladding can actually restore and improve the physical integrity of wheel spindles up to 8,000 kg, which is typical of multi-ton mining trucks, at a lower cost than purchasing new components.

    Integrating robotics allowed for other advanced technologies to be utilized in laser cladding cells.  Many of the process parameters must be continually monitored, such as laser power, laser focal point, powder injection rate, etc.  HMI (human machine interface) allows the customer to change the process as its happening.  A parametric program then allows you to automatically set how far you want to clad the part and the diameter of what you’re cladding.  Therefore there is little programming involved for unique parts.  Human machine interface also allows you to display the laser parameters and have special parameters for different parts.  You can also incorporate vision capabilities and error handling so a technician isn’t required to monitor the process.  A laser spot camera is used to ensure that when non-uniform parts are detected, the laser sensor will adjust for the offset.

    Advantages
    • Extends part lifetime
    • Strong metallurgical bond
    • Increased corrosion resistance
    • Minimal heat affected zone
    • Reduced substrate deformation
    • Free of cracks and porosity.
       
  6. Wolf Robotics WeldingWhat are some of the best practices your company follows?
    Wolf has a long term, close cooperation with Colorado State University’s engineering department and internship programs. We also have close relationships with Front Range Community College, Colorado School of Mines and the University of Wyoming.  Multiple Wolf employees serve on these colleges’ advisory boards to ensure that students are learning what is currently required to succeed in the business world. 

    We’ve received several patents that were developed through collaboration with Colorado State University and Wolf is recognized for our unique technology, products and people by some of the largest American manufacturing companies. Wolf’s technology and innovation greatly improves our customers’ manufacturing efficiency and profitability.  This allows US manufacturing jobs to remain here rather than being shipped out of the country.   Wolf provides robotic functionality that was previously unavailable to industry while improving worker safety and quality.

    We feel our mission is noble and are contributing to the recent trend of American manufacturers bringing back manufacturing operations and jobs to the States (re-shoring).

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