Whenever someone tells me they have good and bad news, I usually ask for the bad first. I figure that while I may get hit with an initial bomb, the conversation will likely end on a high note. Sometimes, though, the bad news can overshadow the good—for example, if someone describes the bad practices they’ve followed for critical welding systems.
There is good news for manufacturers, though. They can minimize the probability of mistakes or errors creeping into the pipe welding process by employing an orbital welding system. And the precision and accuracy gained through an orbital welding process can be further optimized with robotic welding. However, to leverage this advanced welding technology, manufacturers should follow the “do’s and don’ts” for programming welding robots.
Robotic welding systems are not new; in fact, they have been around for over half a century. Early beneficiaries of this technology were heavy industrial manufacturing factories such as automotive production companies. Advances in materials, electronics hardware, and computing have extended the range of robotic applications. However, there are welding robot programming practices that should be avoided, as listed below.
Don’t overcomplicate wire feed and movement instructions.
Although software increases control and flexibility while refining the robot's movements, manufacturers should avoid unnecessary complexity. Overly complex instructions can slow the process or reduce efficiency.
Don’t write long weld programs.
Simplicity and brevity should always guide your welding robot programming. Failing to follow this advice can negate the productivity advantages of robotic welding, and create unnecessary added confusion for the operators on the shop floor.
Don’t reinvent the wheel.
You should create and use an arc file library. This resource should be well-organized, and it should include start, stop and weave files and be easy to reference when needed. It is also a good idea to keep this resource in the robot workcell.
Heeding the don’ts in the list above will aid you in leveraging the advantages of robotic welding. However, it is also necessary to incorporate programming best practices to optimize your results.
Knowing what to do is at least as important as knowing what not to do. By following the suggestions outlined below, manufacturers will generate considerable benefits in their robot welding projects.
Use OLRP Software for Programming.
Instead of taking your robots out of production every time you need to create a new robot program, take advantage of OLRP software to create the new program on a computer. OLRP software, such as OCTOPUZ, is faster, easier to use, and reduces robot downtime when compared to traditional teach-pendant programming.
Be sure that software models are accurate for the equipment used.
Any software control program should, first and foremost, base itself on an accurate model or representation of the equipment under control. Therefore, you should always utilize manufacturer resources for your robot.
Keep weld programs small.
Long, complicated weld programs are a definite don’t. Strive for short, explicit scripts that require minimum instructions.
Log and backup weld files.
To make the best use of your weld programs, record them and back them up. This makes them easy to reuse and maximizes consistency across welds.
Take advantage of offline programming to institute code changes.
When making changes to weld programs, it is best to do so offline as this provides the opportunity to debug, test, and optimize your code.
Utilize available programming resources effectively.
Although coding effectively is a skill that requires expertise, the right tools and resources can shorten the learning curve for optimizing robot weld programs.
As the above list indicates, effectively leveraging robots requires that manufacturers follow best practices. And one of the most important of these practices is to make use of the best software resources. For example, OCTOPUZ provides an offline environment for programming robot weld cells that virtually eliminates the need for any significant coding by the welder or operator. However, it is also necessary to ensure the equipment is in good working order by implementing a comprehensive daily maintenance checklist.