TECH TIPS: Is automation the answer to the global welder shortage?

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By implementing welding automation, companies can increase their productivity and efficiency, reduce labor costs, and improve the quality and consistency of their welds. PHOTO courtesy K-TIG Advanced Welding Systems.

By Ben Mitchell, K-TIG Advanced Welding Systems

Welding automation can be a valuable tool for addressing the global welder shortage and improving the efficiency and safety of welding operations in various industries. It is not necessarily true that welding companies that do not switch to using welding automation will go out of business. However, companies that do not adapt to changing market trends and technological advancements may find it challenging to remain competitive in the long run.

Welding automation can offer many benefits to companies, including increased productivity, improved quality, and reduced labor costs. Companies that do not adopt welding automation may find it difficult to compete with those that do, particularly in industries where automation is becoming more common.

Welding automation refers to the use of robotic or automated equipment to perform welding tasks, rather than relying solely on manual labor. This can include robotic arms, welding manipulators, and other machines that are designed to perform welding tasks with high precision and consistency.

There are several reasons why welding automation is becoming increasingly important. One major factor is the global shortage of skilled welders. As the demand for welding services continues to grow, there simply aren’t enough trained welders to fill all of the available positions. This can lead to longer lead times for welding projects, increased costs for employers, and reduced quality of work if less-skilled welders are used to filling the gap.

By implementing welding automation, companies can increase their productivity and efficiency, reduce labor costs, and improve the quality and consistency of their welds. Automation can also help to reduce the physical strain on workers, as well as the risk of injuries or accidents.

Welding automation can help to ensure high-quality welding results in several ways:

  1. Consistency: Automated welding equipment can perform the same welding operation with the same parameters and precision every time, regardless of the operator. This helps to eliminate variations in the welding process, which can lead to inconsistent results.
  2. Accuracy: Robotic welding systems can be programmed to perform welds with extremely high accuracy, ensuring that the welds are precise and uniform in size and shape.
  3. Reduced Errors: Automated welding systems can help to reduce human errors that can occur during manual weldings, such as incorrect positioning, incorrect settings, or fatigue.
  4. Increased Efficiency: Welding automation can help to increase the speed and efficiency of welding operations, allowing more welds to be completed in less time. This can help to reduce production costs and increase throughput.
  5. Improved Safety: Welding automation can help to improve safety by reducing the need for manual labor in hazardous welding environments, and by eliminating the need for operators to be in close proximity to the welding process.

When using automated welding technologies, there are several critical factors that should be considered to ensure optimal results. These factors include:

  1. System Design: The design of the welding system, including the selection of the robotic arm or automated equipment, must be carefully considered to ensure that it is appropriate for the specific welding task. Factors to consider include the size and shape of the workpiece, the type of welding process, and the desired welding speed and accuracy.
  2. Programming: The programming of the welding system is critical to ensure that the welding process is carried out with the correct parameters, including the welding speed, voltage, current, and wire feed rate. The programming should also take into account any variations in the workpiece or the welding environment, such as changes in temperature or humidity.
  3. Quality Control: Quality control measures should be implemented to ensure that the welding results meet the required standards. This may include real-time monitoring of the welding process, periodic inspections of the welds, and testing of the finished products.
  4. Operator Training: Operators of the automated welding system should be trained to operate the equipment safely and efficiently. They should also be trained to program the welding system and to troubleshoot any issues that may arise during the welding process.
  5. Maintenance: Regular maintenance of the welding system is critical to ensure that it is operating at peak efficiency. This may include cleaning the equipment, replacing worn parts, and performing routine inspections and calibration checks.

Careful consideration of these factors can help to ensure that automated welding technologies are used effectively and produce high-quality welding results.

K-TIG is a high-speed welding process that uses a Keyhole Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW) technology to produce high-quality welds. K-TIG can be used with welding automation to further enhance the efficiency and consistency of the welding process.

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