The secondary manufacturing industry is a touchy business. The advancement of globalisation and free trade agreements between myriad nations in recent years has meant that the price of raw materials is tied to world markets and the vagaries of supply and demand. It also means that businesses face tough competition from overseas manufacturing plants where labour is cheaper and where raw materials can be imported at lower prices in bulk. All of these factors place pressure on local manufacturing industries to be more efficient and invest in the latest robotic technology in order to remain competitive.
A Model of Manufacturing Efficiency
Ever since Henry Ford obsessed over production times and the merest delays in factory floor efficiency, the industrial sector has sought methods to improve workflow. The benefit to improving workflow translates to more profits and greater competitiveness with overseas manufacturers. In real terms, this means that manufacturers need to spend big money on the latest technology, but if the benefit is not there or is too small to reliably measure against existing metrics, then the investment might have been for naught.
Robotic welding systems are a fine answer to the problems of remaining efficient, but without testing, they represent an investment risk that many manufacturing companies simply cannot take. This is especially true of smaller boutique manufacturers in the precision engineering niche, where operating costs are already tight.
The Value of Testing
The solution to this problem lies in testing. By being able to run tests on robotic welding equipment to determine the best investment for a manufacturer, the financial risk is mitigated. Such testing looks at the following areas:
- Production cycle: The speed that a robotic welding arm performs operations is critical to assessing how efficient it will be at performing a given task. Just as not all manufactured products are the same, not all robotic welding arms are able to perform every task appropriately. By running tests in a facility before investing in new equipment, a manufacturer can analyse production cycle metrics and see exactly how it performs.
- Wire type: Different welds require different wires, and a dry run through a testing facility provided by certain expert companies will determine the best wire type for any given process.
- Quality: A weld trial will also determine the quality of the finished product. This is crucial in deciding whether an investment in a specific robotic technology will produce results that will be up to market standards.
The real value of trialling robotic welding equipment for a manufacturer is being able to analyse metrics such as production cycles, quality and wire types before any large investment is made. It also provides an opportunity for the manufacturer to tweak existing welding systems to be more efficient during the manufacturing process. The potential of such a system to save the manufacturing company money and valuable time is a key aspect of improving their competitiveness against overseas markets and maintaining profitability into the future.