Welding is a skill that requires a lot of precision, strength, and concentration. It is no surprise that it has been an important part of many industries for decades. In recent years, however, robotics technology in manufacturing companies has been advancing rapidly.
The new player in the field is collaborative robots, cobots in short. The idea of cobots taking over many of the jobs traditionally performed by welders has become a subject of much speculation. So, will welders be replaced by cobots? Let’s find out!
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Advantages of cobots over human welders
The implications of cobots replacing welders are still being explored, and the debate is likely to continue. However, cobots can offer a range of advantages to manufacturers. While it is unlikely that cobots will completely replace welders anytime soon, the welding torch as robotic end effector certainly have the potential to revolutionise the welding industry. Here are some of the advantages of cobots over human welders:
Around the clock
Cobots are able to work around the clock. They work in the welding station and can be programmed to perform the same welding tasks extremely quickly and accurately. This frees up human welders to focus on other tasks that require a human touch. This allow them to focus on more complex and challenging tasks.
Cobots can be programmed to handle repetitive tasks. This can be quite dull for skilled and curious welders to do. Cobots don’t get tired, frustrated, or distracted, making them ideal for repetitive and recurring tasks.
“It is hard to motivate an employee to do the same work for 700 hours. That is not a problem with the CoWelder.“Kuhz Metallbau
Cobots can complete tasks much more quickly than a human welder, which can be a great benefit in certain industries. Cobots are able to work at speeds that human welders can only dream of, making them ideal for quickly and accurately completing welding tasks. This increased speed can translate into significant increases in efficiency and production output.
“The CoWelder can produce roughly the same quantity as two skilled welders. In that way, it relieves the welders from the physically hard work of manually welding small components for a long time.“Ole Almeborg, Denmark
Cobots can avoid a number of human errors in welding, including mistakes due to fatigue or inattention, incorrect weld position or lack of precision, and improper heat or pressure levels.
“We punch, bend and cut our sub-items ourselves, so we can be sure that they always fit together. That’s why we can let the CoWelder do the welding without hesitating and be sure that components will be completely the same every time.“VM Tarm A/S, Denmark
Cobots are extremely flexible which is a great benefit for many manufacturers, e.g. sub-suppliers of welded parts and sub-components. They can be programmed to weld in a variety of positions, angles, and with different materials. This flexibility allows manufacturers to quickly and easily switch between projects and create complex welds, without having to stop and retrain human welders each time. It makes cobots a great asset for manufacturers who need to adjust production quickly and efficiently for increased demand.
“We are pleased with the CoWelder because programming components and switching from one component to another is easy – its flexibility is amazing.“L&S Technisher Handel, Germany
Cobots are designed to be low-maintenance and do not require constant monitoring. They require much less upkeep than human welders, meaning manufacturers can save money in the long run.
Advantages of human welders over cobots
Human welders have some advantages over cobots that cannot be overlooked. For starters, human welders can rely on their experience and intuition to make quick decisions, whereas cobots are limited by their programming. Human welders also have the ability to think outside the box, which can be essential for certain welding tasks. Their job is also to know the welding machines inside out, which a cobot cannot do. By freeing up skilled welders to focus on other more complex tasks, it is possible to maximize their potential and get better results.
Human welders have the advantage of being able to adapt to changing environments. Cobots are only capable of the tasks they are programmed to do, and if the environment changes, they may not be able to respond correctly.
Understands the materials
Human welders bring a unique set of skills to the table that cobots may not offer. They have a deep understanding of the materials they are working with, which can make a huge difference in the quality of the work they produce.
Collaborates with the team
In addition to their ability to rely on experience and intuition, human welders can also communicate and collaborate with other team members. This means that they can work together to solve problems and come up with new ideas for improving the welding process. Human welders can adapt to new technologies and techniques, which can be essential in keeping up with the constantly evolving welding industry.
Can cobots help solve the welder shortage issue?
The welder shortage issue is a global problem that has been affecting many industries for years. This issue stems from the general difficulty in finding and retaining skilled welders to fill open positions. This has caused a shortage of workers in the welding industry.
The welder shortage is due to several factors, including an aging workforce, a lack of training opportunities, and high turnover rates. As the demand for welders grows, the number of skilled personnel is not keeping up. This means fewer people are choosing to pursue welding as a career, leading to a shortage in the market.
Filling in the gap
With companies looking for ways to combat the shortage, robot welding is a viable option to help fill in the gap. Cobots specifically can help reduce the need for skilled welders, allowing companies to focus on other tasks that require a human touch.
Advances in robotics and automation have made it possible for companies to utilize cobots to help overcome this problem. While cobots may not be a complete replacement for human welders anytime soon, they certainly have the potential to revolutionize the welding industry and help solve the problem of welder shortage.
“Our motivation for automating the welding process is to prevent the shortage of skilled workers. The efficiency of the CoWelder allows us to release work capacity for other tasks.“Kuhz Metallbau, Germany
A new role for welders – how do they adjust?
As cobots become an increasingly popular tool in the welding industry, the role of welders may shift as well. Although cobots can take on a variety of welding tasks that were traditionally done by human welders, they cannot yet match the experience and intuition of a skilled human welder. Cobots can help complement human welders and help them work more efficiently and effectively.
Human welders may need to be more focused on the conceptual side of welding and will need to become more knowledgeable in programming and operating cobots – these are their new interests. Cobots may be able to complete tasks much faster than human welders, but they are limited by their programming and may not be able to adapt to changing conditions. For these reasons, it is essential that human welders remain an important part of the welding process when working with cobots as a partner.
How exactly cobots and human welders work together
Cobots and human welders can work together in a variety of ways. By combining the speed and precision of cobots with the experience and intuition of human welders, companies can create an efficient, effective welding process.
Human welders can be responsible for programming the cobots, setting up the welds, and inspecting the welds for quality assurance. Meanwhile, cobots can use their speed and consistency to complete the welding tasks quickly and accurately. This combination of cobot and human welding partners can result in a more efficient, cost-effective welding process.
“I have two workstations now. One for the CoWelder and one for tack welding. I go back and forth many times every day. We can finish more components splitting the work between me and the robot.“
VM Tarm A/S, Denmark
So, will welders be replaced by cobots?
The truth is, robots are not yet able to completely replace welders. They do not yet have the know-how or cleverness to match a human welder. In addition, welding requires a certain level of creativity and problem solving that cobots are still unable to provide.
Many companies are already using cobots to streamline their welding processes. So, while robots might not completely replace human welders in the foreseeable future, they are certainly becoming an important part of the welding industry. And as robotics technology continues to develop and advance, it is likely that we will see an increasing number of robot welders in the future.
The future of automated welding looks very promising, so stay tuned to find out how cobots will affect the welding industry in the coming years.
See how other companies use a welding cobot in their production
Browse our case studies, and discover the wide applications of CoWelder, and see how our customers are changing the world. See case stories with CoWelder here
What is the CoWelder?
The CoWelder is a collaborative welding robot, designed by Migatronic. We have combined the best and latest welding technology with innovative cobot technology from Universal Robots, creating a new category-defining welding solution with broad applications.
Contact us to know more
Our welding specialists are experts when it comes to welding, and they are eager to share their expertise. If you are thinking of switching from manual welding to semi-automated welding with a cobot, they’ve got you covered! They can provide all the guidance you need to make the transition a success.
As a team with extensive experience in both manual and automated welding, we know the ins and outs of both worlds. We can offer you insights and tips to make the process as smooth as possible. Don’t be shy! Reach out to us, and we will help you make the switch to semi-automated welding with a cobot like a pro.