By equipping welding robots with “vision” and artificial sensory perception, part and positional variations can be adjusted in real-time, making it possible to account for variations such as inconsistencies in tool fixturing, deviations in part fit-up, weld seam geometry, and weld seam direction, during welding. Article by Wee How Tan, Servo-Robot.
Unlike skilled human welders, welding robots don’t have any natural intelligence nor cognitive senses. A robot will only perform what it has been programmed to do and move to where the program tells it to go. How good a robot can weld is therefore largely dependent on the skill and experience of the operator who programmed it. Without this imparted intelligence, the robot will weld “blind”.
To put the robot on the required trajectory at all times, the operator needs to constantly make changes to adapt the robot program to account for not only whatever is in front and around the robot arm, but also the variations in the part that the robot is welding.
Nowadays, a custom fab shop may fabricate a part to fulfil a large-volume order and then a few months later, it may receive another order for the same part again. For cashflow reasons, most customers want to avoid holding a large inventory of the same parts so they only order what they need at a particular time and then reorder when they need the parts again.
Owing to variations in forming and upstream cutting processes and other factors, different batches of the same part may not be exactly the same especially if they are supplied months apart. This means that the robot program made for a previous batch of parts will have to be adjusted for the new batch to account for variations between the batches.
This would not pose a problem if it is always the same part. However, fab shops invest in robotic welding systems to handle many different parts in variable quantities. Apart from having to build the tool fixtures to hold each new part, fab shops also have to manually program the robot and then adjust the program to account for the variations in each different batch of the same parts.
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