“Ready to go” robot welding systems provide fabricator with a fast response to skills shortage

Industrial Robot

ISSN: 0143-991x

Article publication date: 1 December 2004




(2004), "“Ready to go” robot welding systems provide fabricator with a fast response to skills shortage", Industrial Robot, Vol. 31 No. 6. https://doi.org/10.1108/ir.2004.04931faf.003



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

“Ready to go” robot welding systems provide fabricator with a fast response to skills shortage

“Ready to go” robot welding systems provide fabricator with a fast response to skills shortage

Keywords: Robots, Welding

Mason and King Limited has addressed the problem of “offshoring” manufacturing and skill shortages by investing in generic robot welding cells supplied by FANUC Robotics UK (Plate 2).

Leicester-based sheet metal fabricator, Mason and King Limited prides itself with being progressive and highly responsive to the demands of its customers in the markets it operates in. Like most of its competitors recent years have presented their fair share of challenges – least of all the increase in UK businesses “offshoring” their manufacturing.

Plate 2 Mason and King Limited have invested in generic robot welding cells

Ray Mason, Managing Director of Mason and King, comments, “We have noticed that slowly 'offshored' work is coming back to us – generally because of quality issues. Operating as an ISO 9001:2000 certified business we offer a consistent level of high quality. Of course, we welcome any pick up in our markets – we operate mainly in the 'yellow goods' or heavy construction vehicle sector – but it presents potential problems principally in skills shortages. People that leave when business is quiet increasingly move out of the manufacturing sector and when you look to re-employ they aren't there any more”.

Founded in 1954, Mason King understands the importance of investment in manufacturing technology as the core element to achieving quality. Twelve years ago it invested in its first welding cell.

“Our first welding system comprised a robot and positioner with a turntable each end. The system was specially engineered for a particular job and its supply involved two companies. This experience was to prove invaluable for our more recent investment decisions in welding cells. Since that first system we have installed three FANUC System 100 Robot Weld Cells – the most recent being installed this year. One of the key lessons we learnt from the original system was to ensure that future systems were engineered by a single supplier – on the rare occasions where support is needed FANUC present a single point of contact and save a great deal of time”, explains Mason.

Mason and King is able to weld the majority of its production on the FANUC systems and ensures accurate control of component fit in-house by manufacturing its own tooling. CNC laser cutting equipment and punch presses provide dimensional consistency of parts and avoid the need for seam tracking.

Mason continues, “Addressing the skills shortage issue, the System 100 Weld Cell has a lead time of up to six weeks and although it could be producing within a couple of hours of being unloaded from a lorry, in reality it takes us about a day and a half to position, supply services and fix down. Programming and maintaining FANUC's System 100 is very straight forward and involves no specialist robot or computer skills – operators have one day of training to become proficient. Output of the robot can be the equivalent to three times of a human welder and consistent in quality. The final issue confirming the efficiency of the system is that costs have dropped dramatically with the FANUC system costing about half that of our original investment over twelve years ago”.

By capitalising on technology developed from thousands of FANUC welding systems installed worldwide, the System 100 Weld Cell can typically show a return on investment (ROI) within 6 months – over three shifts ROI is reduced dramatically.

For further information, please contact: Maurice Hanley, National Sales and Marketing Manager, FANUC Robotics (UK) Limited. Tel: 024 7663 9669; E-mail: sales.fruk@fanucrobotics.co.uk; Web site: www.fanucrobotics.co.uk

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