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< Innovative robotic welding system for prototype manufacturing

YASKAWA has developed a standard robotic solution for cutting and welding of lighting masts

The system features five MOTOMAN robots for handling, cutting and welding of lighting masts with a length from 3 up to 13 m, delivering an output of 20 to 30 masts per hour depending on size and weight.

This flexible and completely automatic system can accommodate many different variants of masts, either circular, hexagonal or with 12 faces and is designed to reduce manual handling operations as well as dramatically improve weld quality.

Operating sequence
Masts are fed into a conveyor system and collected by two ES280D MOTOMAN robots with a handling capacity of 280 kg. These robots are equipped with Synchromotion, which means that the handling operation is carried out smoothly without putting stress onto the robots or the mast. The mast is then fed from above into one of two work stations; each comprising two servo controlled “through type” positioners that hold the mast at each end. When the positioners close they firmly clamp the mast into position and allow the mast to rotate for the subsequent cutting and welding processes.

A third MOTOMAN HP20D robot is equipped with a 3D laser sensor that references the mast prior to cutting using Kjellberg high definition plasma cutting equipment. This robot is suspended from a gantry with a linear axes. A fourth MOTOMAN ES165D handling robot automatically places a base plate to the end of the mast and a final fifth MOTOMAN MA1400 arc welding robot welds the base plate to the mast. Excellent welding quality is achieved using the TPS5000 Fronius welding package. Since the overall tolerance of the mast cannot not be accurately controlled in the steel mill, the arc welding robot is equipped with a “ComArc” through the arc tracking sensor that ensures that the weld is always in the correct position.

The final sequence in the operation is for the plasma cutting robot, that is suspended from the gantry, to cut the apertures in the doors. The finished masts are then handled by the two ES280D robots to an out feed conveyor for further processing.

Success story
Following the successful installation at a major mast manufacturer in France, the system has since been replicated at two other companies in Europe.

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