When Birmingham Stopper looked for the most efficient method to weld a range of earth moving equipment support assembly brackets, electronic technology manufacturer Yaskawa came in to deliver their Motoman robot system.
Established in 1892, Birmingham Stopper Ltd is a specialist in presswork, CNC and fabrication. The company successfully secured significant contracts from their customer base in the yellow goods industry, which led them to consider robotic welding in order to address both local labour shortages and reduce production costs. The company had already proven, that they were able to meet the strict quality and delivery deadlines of their clients and robot welding would allow them to not only grow the business, but also add more value to their welded fabrications. Subsequently, the company approached Yaskawa UK Ltd to seek advice about the most efficient method to weld a range of earth moving equipment support assembly brackets.
Following an initial consultation during which the exact requirements for the applications were evaluated, Birmingham Stopper received a series of cycle time evaluations, which indicated that significant savings would be possible over manual welding over the life of the contract. Yaskawa calculated that the robot cell would be utilised over approximately 75% of a single shift, delivering an output of about 3 to 4 manual welders. The nature of the welded assemblies was such that a water cooled welding package was required and since the assembly needed to be rotated to bring the joint in a favourable welding position, Yaskawa offered an ArcSystem 6000 robotic welding system comprising a Motoman MA1400 robot and a servo controlled twin station rotary positioner with a handling capacity of 250 kg per station. The welding package consists of a synergic Miller Auto Axcess 450 that is able to deliver excellent quality with minimal amounts of weld spatter, which was an additional requirement from Birmingham Stopper. The twin station approach means that the robot is welding an assembly during the operator load cycle thus improving productivity. An added advantage is the fact that the welding hose bundle is routed through the upper arm of the MA1400 robot which solves any issues associated with programming around fixture clamps or the assembly itself.
Mr Robert Paton, Director of Birmingham Stopper Ltd, comments: “Yaskawa were very responsive during the initial consultation process and following a visit to their facilities in Banbury we were very impressed with the ease of programming of the Motoman robot system”. From a total of three potential suppliers the contract was awarded to Yaskawa for not only the robotic welding system, but also for the welding fixtures and robot programming. The system was installed in February 2012. Mr Paton continues: “Based on this initial system, we soon realised the potential of robotic welding and the benefits it could bring to our company. It encouraged us to negotiate for further contracts and continue our business model of solid growth”. Subsequently and order for an identical second system was placed with Yaskawa UK Ltd, which was installed and commissioned some months later.