Do Welding Cobots Help Welders?
With new technologies come new opportunities, but also, new challenges. Industry 4.0 (the Fourth Industrial Revolution) brings automation, robotics, and the Internet of Things (IoT) to industries such as healthcare, manufacturing, and transportation. Although these technologies are being rapidly adopted, there are many questions about how Industry 4.0 will impact employees. This article aims to demystify the world of automation and robotics with Novarc’s Spool Welding Robot (SWR™) as a prime example of how automation is mutually beneficial for fabricators and welders alike.
So does automating welding help welders? This blog aims to answer this question with a resounding “yes!”
Often, the SWR™ is presented to the decision-makers and executives of a company investing in welding automation. Because of this, some welders can be apprehensive about the change to automation and how it will impact them, in part due to a misunderstanding about automation technologies.
One of the most common concerns that we hear from future SWR™ operators is “is the SWR™ going to take away my job and replace me?” The answer to this question is simple: No, the SWR™ will not replace welders.
There is a massive shortage of welders, and companies that are hiring teams of welders have opted for the SWR™ in part because they were unable to fill the welder positions in their growing companies. The number of skilled welders is continuing to decrease with the average age of a welder in North America being 55 years old. Welding positions are left unfilled due to this labor shortage, which is where the opportunity to automate welding comes in to assist fabrication shops to be better and faster, not to replace the welders currently employed. Automating welding is a means to enable welders to continue doing their job.
The SWR™ is a cobot (collaborative robot), which means that it needs an operator. You do not need a highly skilled welder to operate the SWR™. You can have a more junior welder as the operator, or someone later in their career who can no longer do the physicality of welding, in turn, prolonging their welding career. Your fabrication shop will still need skilled welders for the specialized welding jobs, and they can leave the repetitive, mundane welding to the SWR™, and highly skilled welders can be deployed to more complex tasks.
Minimized Health Hazards
One of the biggest risks as a welder is skin and eye exposure to the arc. When you automate the biggest welding jobs, you reduce the hazard of the UV light that comes from the arc, reduce the risk of burn, and also of inhaling toxic fumes. The goal of the SWR™ is not to replace the welder, it is to act as a tool for the welder to continue to do their craft in a safer environment, with social responsibility and employee experience as a driver in the decision to automate.
To answer the question “does robotic welding help welders?” The answer is yes, automating is here to be of service to welders. The SWR™ is a technology that has been designed to help the changing welding industry. The industry is shifting with more automation, and fabrication shops will not survive the shortage of welders if they do not begin automating their operations. Automating the biggest, most repetitive welding jobs also gives the welders space to hone their craft by getting to focus on intricate and technical welds. Industry 4.0 and specifically, automated welding, are increasing the productivity of manufacturing so that companies can take on more projects, become more competitive in the markets, and keep their welders employed. The goal is to augment the way that humans work, not replace them.