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Novarc Technology’s next generation of robots can take workers out of harm’s way and help to address a looming global shortage of experienced welders.




The series: We look at the manufacturing industry which is using technology to create “smart factories” fit for long-term global competitiveness.

Vancouver-based robot company Novarc Technologies Inc. is creating some heat and light of its own in the pipe-welding industry.

A looming global shortage of experienced welders is a prime driver behind Novarc’s collaborative welding robot, designed to semi-automate the pipe-welding process, company chief executive officer Soroush Karimzadeh says.

“Pipe welders have to go through more than 10 years of work experience and training to do this kind of job. With that comes a cost. But the biggest problem we’re trying to solve is there’s not enough of these welders currently in the marketplace,” Mr. Karimzadeh says.

“The American Welding Society projects there’s going to be a shortage of 400,000 welders by 2025 and that story reverberates everywhere across the globe.”

Novarc robots are not designed to replace workers. They work in pairs – operator and robot – with the operator setting and supervising the robot as it tackles the manual weld part of the job. The machines can be used in sectors including the oil and gas, shipbuilding, chemical and nuclear industries, Mr. Karimzadeh says.

“With technology such as adaptive robots and collaborative robots, junior welders can basically do as much as two to three highly skilled welders an hour,” Mr. Karimzadeh says. “The robot works as a productivity tool to enhance the capabilities of existing welders and operators with very little training. That’s different than traditional robots where you replace workers.” Read more