Welding tends to be thought of as a very manual, blocking-and-tackling type of function common to many discrete manufacturing assembly operations. While many aspects of welding remain manual, the process is becoming increasingly automated through greater use of robotics and artificial intelligence.
Nearly two years ago, Automation World covered the introduction of the BotX Welder from Hirebotics. This robotic welding system includes Universal Robots’ UR10e collaborative robot (cobot) arm, a welder, wire feeder, MIG welding gun, weld table, and configurable user-input touch buttons. According to Hirebotics, the BotX welder was designed to address the nationwide shortage of skilled welders and the difficulty of producing quality parts quickly in small runs.
Now, Hirebotics has released the Cobot Welder, a new cobot welding system that Hirebotics says “enables painless automated welding deployments.” A key aspect of the Cobot Welder is its accompanying smartphone app, which enables welders to program the cobot without a robot teach pendant.
The Cobot Welder’s smartphone app runs on Hirebotics’ cloud-based Beacon software platform. Launched in 2020, Beacon is a UR+ certified platform for cobot application building and remote cobot monitoring and maintenance through which 24/7 global support is available.
Hardware and software included in the Cobot Welder package are: a UR10e collaborative robot, a Miller Invision 352 MPa cobot package, a Tregaskiss robotic torch, a mobile cart with a standard 5/8-in. diameter on 2-in. center hole pattern, and the Cobot Welder smartphone application.
Mitch Dupon, director of business development at Hirebotics, said, “By reducing the time taken to teach new parts by as much 60%, Cobot Welder reduces downtime, improves welding quality and productivity and ensures painless automated welding deployments.”
Mitch Dupon narrates the video below from the Cobot Welder launch webinar, highlighting how the system can be easily programmed by welders.
Asked to explain the differences between the Cobot Welder and BotX, Hirebotics said BotX is a Red-D-Arc/Airgas product developed in collaboration with Hirebotics for cobot welding application that delivers Airgas’ welding knowledge through pre-built welding recipes. BotX includes a high touch onboarding process delivered by RDA and Airgas, and is offered via rent, lease, and purchase options.
Cobot Welder is designed for do-it-yourselfers and includes a standard hardware package for companies that want to empower their welders with cobot automation. It is targeted at manufacturers with “a modest capital budget who are ready to grow their business with cobot welding and empower welders, not robot programmers, to take advantage of automation,” according to Hirebotics.
“The welding profession is experiencing a labor crisis,” said Joe Campbell, Universal Robots’ senior manager of applications development and strategic marketing, North America. “The average age for skilled welders is 55, most are likely to retire within 10 years, and younger people aren’t entering the profession in sufficient numbers to sustain industry demand,” he says. “There is an urgent need for collaborative welding systems that are safe to use around human beings and can be used to support expert human welders by taking over the tedious and unergonomic aspects of the welding process.”