April 2021

Robot cell compensates for the shortage of skilled workers

Femitec strengthens the OTC Group in Europe Femitec strengthens the OTC Group in Europe

Over the past two decades, Engelmann Schweißtechnik GmbH has successfully established itself as a welding technology dealer and service provider in the Sauerland region. Managing Director, Jörg Engelmann, as welding specialist and founder of the family-run company with around 10 employees, can personally look back on 30 years of experience in application technology.

Welding specialist dealer, Jörg Engelmann, 2nd from left, from Lennestadt, Germany, sees the shortage of skilled welders in his region as an opportunity to use robotic welding cells. Other teammates: Norman Schäfer; to the right of Jörg Engelmann: Lucia Bockheim and Yvonne Müller.

The catchment area between the Ruhr region and Marburg is mainly a home to medium-sized industries, including a few suppliers to the automotive industry, as well as smaller processing companies such as locksmiths, sawmills and drop forges. Companies that, according to Jörg Engelmann, are still extremely productive in terms of welding technology: "Some of these companies tend to suffer greatly from a lack of skilled welding personnel. In addition, larger production runs can no longer easily be completed using the manual welding process. Neither in a given time nor in a consistently unchanged quality."

Jörg Engelmann and his team noted that in addition to the shortage of skilled workers, small and medium-sized companies also face particular challenges when it comes to bidding on larger welding jobs.

The operator of OTC's Easy Arc robotic welding cell, Norman Schäfer, teaching the welding sequence: "Programming is easy with a little welding experience."

On the other hand, it can be observed that, in addition to the personnel problem, there is currently an increasing reluctance, "for pandemic reasons", to make major investments when it comes to dealing with the manufacturing problem via automation technology and, above all, on a permanent basis.

About two years ago, welding automation manufacturer OTC DAIHEN EUROPE contacted Engelmann and presented the concept of the EASY ARC robotic welding cell to the dealer. "At that time, we were already well positioned for conventional applications thanks to our sales partnership with a welding equipment manufacturer, but we were still looking for a viable solution for automated, robot-based processes that was affordable, especially in the interest of our customers," says Jörg Engelmann.

Previously, the specialist welding dealer had looked at a welding robot solution, but this was offered without an enclosure and was not CE-compliant, which, however, was too critical for the owner as a sales solution in the long term. "We needed a concept for our customers that was complete straight away and offered appropriate safety standards. A non-CE-compliant cell without an enclosure would have required too much effort from us when retrofitting. The solution we first considered was also a one-way street in terms of programming: The transition to a larger welding robot would have required a completely new start in terms of application technology, which we did not want to impose on any of our customers. With the welding robot cell from OTC, on the other hand, you can build directly on knowledge once acquired."

Engelmann was super enthusiastic after the presentation of the EASY ARC robotic welding cell, which is CE-compliant from the outset and ideal for entry into full automation and he has for two years now been a permanent sales partner of the Japanese manufacturer. "To cover the needs of many smaller operations in our catchment area, OTC's EASY ARC was exactly what we were looking for”, explains Engelmann. "We realized quite quickly that the cell was an affordable, yet high-quality, entry point into robotic welding for these sizes of businesses."

Specialist welding dealer successfully provides support

Not every locksmith's shop that has to weld 200 consoles in between wants to or can fulfill the dream of its own robotic welding cell right away. That is why Engelmann not only presents the EASY ARC to potential customers at its Lennestadt location for sale, but also offers it to potential customers on rent. If this still does not fit into the operating concept or if they are also facing time bottlenecks, Engelmann can also provide them with production support without further ado.

The Easy Arc welding robot cell also benefits Engelmann’s customers who are facing spontaneous capacity bottlenecks and would like to take this opportunity to first get to know the system better.

"In doing so, we always clearly communicate here that we are not competing with our customers. Instead, we strive to help them out at short notice through the production options with our own EASY ARC cells, for example in the event of deadline bottlenecks or overcapacities.

Most recently, we relieved one of our customers with the production of a large quantity (20,000 parts), who was already reaching her capacity limits in three-shift operation. Of course, we offered her the opportunity to personally inspect the quality management system on site. In the end, everything worked out wonderfully."

Engelmann Schweißtechnik attaches great importance to quality anyway, since in addition to the ISO9001 certification which it has acquired, there is still the welding certification in accordance with ISO 3834 which is currently in preparation. The EASY ARC welding cell from OTC, which is ready for demonstration and includes a welding robot, rotary positioner, and inverter welding power source and control system, is to be joined by other automation units in the future, explains Engelmann:

"In addition to the expansion of our service and field service, we would particularly like to expand, to a greater extent, the area of application technology consulting and robot rental for our customers. The necessary provision of additional units at our plant has been agreed with OTC, as has the holding of "open day" events to demonstrate the welding robot cell to representatives of local companies for a wide variety of tasks right on our premises.

As soon as the regulations for holding such events are relaxed again, we will be looking forward to putting our planning into action." According to the man from Sauerland, the learnability for operating the welding robot cell should be easy to accomplish: "What cannot be done by hand is not for the hand," has been Engelmann's guiding principle. "A subcontract welder should be able to learn how to do this within 1-2 hours. It works with the Easy Arc."

Easy Arc robotic welding cells from OTC are configurable for both MIG/MAG and TIG welding. With the respective package solutions, there is the option to equip the cell with additional horizontal rotary positioner including Synchromotion software, as well as other features on request.


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