Plasma cutting and MIG welding cobots eliminate manual clean-up and double output

Carriere Industrial Supply

In short

Carriere Industrial Supply (CIS) in Sudbury, Canada produces heavy earth-moving equipment for harsh mining environments. With large workpieces that are difficult to move and a low-volume, high-mix manufacturing environment, traditional robots aren’t ideal. Cobots from Universal Robots (UR) let CIS bring the robot to work—rather than the other way around – to improve product quality, output, and employee safety.

The business transformation

Plasma-cutting cobot saves 1,000 hours on a single project. Manual plasma cutting leaves an accumulation of dross at the bottom of the piece along with jagged edges that occur when workers need to reposition themselves for long cuts. Cleaning up the manual cut accounts for 80 percent of plasma-cutting time, making that an ideal area for improvement. CIS deployed a UR10e cobot to plasma cut large metal parts, achieving a more precise cut and the possibility of eliminating the grinding and cleanup of joints. Operators appreciate that the work is more rewarding and less physically demanding, and are easily able to reposition the robot for cut improvements. The project provided significant time and cost savings. On a single large truck body contract over the next three years, the trimming process would be more than 50 hours for every truck. The UR cobot reduced that time to 12 hours per truck, ultimately delivering savings of 1,000 hours on that project alone.

Carriere Industrial Supply

Industry Metal and machining
Country Canada
Number of Employees 51 - 200
Cobots used UR10e
UR+ products used RoboDK simulation software
See how Carriere Industrial Supply empowered employees to drive output and cost savings.

UR is definitely a platform we’re going to continue to work with. The ease of use and the approachability of the platform is very appealing for the company

Pierre Levesque - Manager of Innovation and Technologies - Carriere Industrial Supply
UR cobot doubles MIG-welding output and improve ergonomics

UR cobot doubles MIG-welding output and improve ergonomics

CIS leveraged its robotic plasma cutting experience to even more difficult MIG welding projects. The MIG-welding UR10e follows similar curvatures and profiles as the plasma-cutting robot, but welding them instead of cutting them.

In the production of truck bodies that have seven large, fillet-welded ribs spaced three to four feet apart, the length of the welds raises critical ergonomic challenges for welders. Now, a welder works on one rib while the cobot welds the next, effectively splitting the work in half and giving the human worker more time for less strenuous, more productive tasks.

How they did it

Ease of programming, extensive UR resources, and UR+ products contribute to success. The open platform and ease of programming of the UR cobots was a significant advantage over traditional robotics.

See how Carriere Industrial Supply’s innovative programming puts operators in the driver’s seat.
URs open platform a significant advantage

URs open platform a significant advantage

Mason Fraser, junior software engineer at CIS, programmed the plasma cutting of the most complex parts, then built a new URCap program (software handshake between the cobot arm and its peripherals accessible on the cobot’s teach pendant) that “puts the operator in the driver’s seat” with an easy-to-use interface.

Win-win for both the operation and the operator

Win-win for both the operation and the operator

Levesque adds, “What the URCAP does is augment that operator’s ability by automatically navigating any plate geometry imperfections, and adjusting corner speed when necessary, based on the geometry and the points they provided. So now you have a very successful cut, reduced time, reduced risk for the operator, and it is a win-win for both the operation and the operator.”

The UR Academy has great examples and tutorials on programming the robot. It actually gives you a full simulation of how a program would look and how to write it, without having to download any software.”

Mason Fraser - Junior Software Engineer at CIS - Carriere Industrial Supply
Flexible UR cobots come to work, not the other way around

Flexible UR cobots come to work, not the other way around

For the MIG welding application, the massive workpieces weigh over 15 tons. That required CIS to bring the robot to the workpiece, rather than the other way around. Unable to find a standard solution, the CIS team developed a custom welding skid that can be moved with a forklift to wherever the welding robot is needed. The robot is mounted on a lift to create a seventh axis to reach the entire weld on the side of a truck body. The relatively light weight of the UR cobot arm allowed CIS to develop this innovative approach.

Automation challenges solved:

  • Low-volume, high-mix manufacturing of very large, complex workpieces
  • Challenging work and safety environment
  • Extensive cleanup for manual plasma cutting

Key value drivers:

  • Plasma-cutting cobot saves 1,000 hours and over $90,000 in a single project
  • MIG-welding cobot doubles output and improves ergonomics
  • Employees empowered to improve quality and output, even with minimal robotics experience
  • UR resources (UR Academy, UR Sim, and UR+) support fast, successful deployment

Tasks solved by collaborative robots:

  • Plasma cutting of large parts with complex geometries
  • MIG welding of massive workpieces from custom seventh axis

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