The Advantages of Cobot Welding to Help Solve the Welding Labour Shortage
The welder shortage is continuing to grow. Are cobots the answer to help relieve the welding shortage gap? This article will look at the advantages of cobot welding during the labour shortage.
There is a shortage of trade positions such as machinists, welders, sheet metal workers, plumbers, etc. The shortage has been anticipated for a long time, but the past few years have made it worse.
The demand for trade positions has been higher than the supply, due to factors such as COVID-19 restrictions and retiring baby boomers. However, the pipeline of trade school graduates has been damaged by years of schools favouring college over trade schools. This has resulted in more experienced professionals leaving the trades than students and younger generations entering them.
In particular it is welder who are in short supply. The American Welding Society (AWS) and WeldingWorkforceData project that an additional 400,000 welders will be needed within the workforce by 2024, according to current trends.
Although growth in industry and unfilled openings account for a portion of the welder shortage, perhaps the most worrying pattern is that those with many years of welding expertise are leaving the industry due to retirement or career advancement, and no one is filling their positions.
Welding Robots vs. Welding Cobots
Will welders be replaced by robots? No, not really. Instead, skilled welders can work with collaborative robots (cobots) from Universal Robots.
Cobots can safely share space with humans, unlike traditional welding industrial robots. Cobots can assist welders in their tasks and are outfitted with intelligent sensors to keep the human safe, while a welding robot may need to be placed in a cage or surrounded by a light curtain on a production line. Although cobots are “safe” proper risk assessments should be carried out on any install.
Firstly, imagine a complicated, heavy assembly with multiple welds. The cobot can hold the pieces together to allow the welder to do a few tack welds, and when outfitted properly, it is not in risk from the weld’s heat.
Once the piece has been tacked together, the human and cobot will weld in unison, with each of them completing some welds for the finished portion. The completed, heavier part could be moved by the cobot and the next pieces retrieved.
Cobots are currently trained by human welders to perform repetitive motions. This training step can be achieved much more easily with cobots than with existing welding robots, depending on the application. Cobots equipped with machine vision can be programmed without the need for complex computer programming skills, making robot programming more accessible to welders.
The Future of Cobots in Welding
The cobot welder will increase the speed and quality of welded assemblies in industry as artificial intelligence (AI) methods continue to improve. With companies such as Smooth Roboitcs introducing extremely powerful software, cobot programming is now a fast deployed, low cost and extremely versatile option.
Thinking of Using a Cobot?
SP Automation & Robotics is one of the longest-established automation manufacturers in the UK. We have been serving a vast range of industries for more than 35 years.
Automation has never been easier. If you want to find out more about the benefits of using cobots (collaborative robots) for welding applications or any other industry contact our knowledgeable engineers today. They’ll tell you everything you need to know how about how to get started with cobots.
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