The commissioning of a custom-designed dual-cell robotic welding system at the Austin Engineering facility in Perth, WA, will lift efficiency, productivity and output: benefits that underpin the specialty customised designs the company manufactures for the mining industry world-wide.

For more than 35 years Austin has designed and engineered unique production and maintenance equipment including dump truck bodies, excavator buckets, water tanks and tyre handlers. Austin-designed equipment has given its customers significantly improved productivity and increased output through designs that have enhanced the operational efficiency and availability of site production equipment.

The new dual-cell robotic welding system, as well as offering the obvious advantages of modern robotic welding technology, includes features to improve overall efficiency and product capabilities. A mobile gantry carrying two six-axis articulated arm robots, each interfaced with a digital pulse welding module, dominates the system. Mounted on rails, the double gantry provides 14m of longitudinal travel and 10m of lateral travel to service the two new side-by-side production cells. Vertical travel is 2m.

The system includes both online and offline programming capabilities. Whereas the previous robot could only be programmed once the component was loaded into the cell, all necessary programming can now be completed prior to the job being loaded into a production cell.

The online/offline programming feature, combined with the system’s laser tracking feature increases arc time as the robot can weld without having to stop for any adjustments to the program or the job. An ‘out of position’ weld feature also maintains uninterrupted job progress.

“When fully operational, the new system will lift efficiency, productivity and overall capability throughout the facility,” said Geoff Collins, Operations Manager at Austin Engineering Perth.

The new robot welds marginally faster but Collins says this is only one of the production improvements the system will deliver. He emphasises that overall improvement will be a combination of a number of productivity inputs and cites the new robot’s capability to work on all products in the Austin Engineering range (the previous robot was restricted to truck floors).

“As well, access to the latest robot welding technology and software, the two side-by-side production cells, which can be loaded or unloaded without interruption to the robot’s work schedule and advance planning functionality, will all add to overall productivity improvement,” he added.

Collins said the benefits to customers will come in the form of shorter lead and turnaround times: “And that should ultimately improve their operational efficiency and productivity.”