Unfortunately, most welding jobs are considered DDD applications – Dull, Dirty or Dangerous. These are the toughest positions to fill and have high turnover rates due to low job satisfaction. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a 6.2% turnover rate in manufacturing in 2022 and a 2022 McKinsey report shows that as many as 33% of the European workforce would consider leaving their current jobs. It’s clear the welding labor challenge is not going away.
How Can Cobot Automation Help?
The immediate boost to welding productivity comes from amplifying the output of the skilled welders on staff and doing so with modest investments. Cobot welders are commonly deployed in the $75,000 - $85,000 range and go into production is a matter of hours or days. Typical arc-on times for manual welding are 20-30%, as the welder works sequentially to fixture components to be welded, performing the welding, removing the finished weldment, and starting the process over again. A cobot welding system with two sets of fixtures can push the arc-on times to 70% and more, as the welder and the cobot system are now working in parallel. This effectively doubles the productivity of a skilled welder.
To push productivity even higher, larger weldments or smaller parts fixtured in multiples can support a single skilled welder managing two cobot welding systems, each with dual sets of fixturing.
The speed and precision of a cobot welding system can support weld process improvements that deliver large productivity gains. DeAngelo Marine Exhaust deployed a cobot welding system from Hirebotics and moved from a manual TIG process to an automated MIG process. That process change alone increase the welding rate from 2 inches per minute to 20 inches per minute, and the productivity improvement allowed DeAngelo to pay for the cobot welder on a single order from the US Coast Guard.