Cutting-edge robots halve production time for bridge manufacturer

Leading bridge and engineering services specialist, Mabey has halved the manufacturing time for its modular bridge panel and chords thanks to a £2.6m investment in advanced robots.

Robots - Mabey’s Compact 200 system uses standard, interchangeable steel components to provide robust, rapidly deployed and erected solutions for permanent, temporary, footbridges and emergency bridging applications, among others – image courtesy of Mabey.
Mabey’s Compact 200 system uses standard, interchangeable steel components to provide robust, rapidly deployed and erected solutions for permanent, temporary, footbridges and emergency bridging applications, among others – image courtesy of Mabey.

Now operating in the firm’s Mabey Bridge site in Lydney (Gloucestershire), the robots support the production of the Mabey Compact 200 – described as being the world’s most widely used modular steel bridge.

The investment aims to enable Mabey’s C200 bridging system to be manufactured more quickly, safely and efficiently, halving the production time for the C200’s panels and chords.

Prior to the robots, existing automated welding systems performed several functions in the manufacturing processs, with smaller welds being completed by hand. Panels and raw materials were also manually transported between three separate machines.

In contrast, the new robots – which include one that is reportedly the first of its kind to be used in the UK for making steel bridges – form one complete cell to manufacture both chords and panels, thereby removing the intermediary steps.

Employees load the raw materials, at which point the robots take over and manoeuvre the heavier components, weld all sections together and make it ready for drilling.

Chief executive of Mabey Bridge, Michael Treacy explained: “Now operational, our investment in the next generation of industrial robotics demonstrates our commitment to investing in and accelerating our own manufacturing and construction processes.

“Significantly, the robots reduce manual lifting and handling while ensuring the quality, and consistency of our products – all part of our broader aim to maintain a faster, safer and more efficient way of working.”

Now fully embedded, the robots ensure Mabey’s Lydney factory reportedly has the capacity to manufacture up to 2km of steel bridging a month.

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