An expert welder knows what makes a quality weld, is capable of reading the joint, and possesses the muscle memory to guide the welding torch on the correct path. For many, that muscle memory can take months or even years to develop, and it may be a significant contributing factor to the skilled-welder shortage. In fact, by 2020, the AWS estimates there will be 290,000 unfilled welding positions.
Collaborative robots tackle the skilled-welder shortage in a new way. A collaborative spool-welding robot with a relatively inexperienced operator can produce the same volume of work as several highly skilled operators manually welding pipes.
The welder brings experience and judgement, the collaborative robot handles the muscle memory and repetitive motions.
This means that it doesn’t take very long for a new operator to start welding certain jobs with such a robot. Junior welders can get started on 1G pipe welds and highly skilled welders are freed up to tackle more challenging welds.
At the same time, collaborative robots can handle 24/7 physical work much better than humans (we like food and water breaks!). Robots don’t get tired and they love trial and error. The operator doesn’t need to continuously manipulate the welding torch by hand, which reduces operator fatigue and the probability of human error or injury.