Swedish metal fabricator beats capacity squeeze using ABB cobots

Swedish metal fabricator beats capacity squeeze using ABB cobots

Two ABB GoFa™ cobots have helped a metal products manufacturer to overcome a shortage of skilled welders, enabling it to increase capacity and ensure consistent high quality to meet growing customer demand.

Summary

The challenge
Finnish manufacturer Lankapaja Corporation needed to increase production of its high-quality welded furniture components to meet growing customer demand. With a shortage of skilled welders available to carry out the work, the company was looking for ways to automate its welding process with robots.  

The solution
ABB supplied two GoFa™ cobots to carry out welding tasks on the company’s component welding station alongside the company’s manual operators.  

The application
Quick to program and easy to use, the cobots ensure the components are accurately welded to the highest quality to meet the demands of customers.  

A metal products plant in Sweden has improved its welding quality and solved staffing shortages by using two ABB GoFa™ cobots. Easy to program for different tasks, the cobots weld furniture components with even greater consistency than human workers.

Lankapaja Corporation is a Finnish manufacturer of sheet metal and wire products. Other major parts of its business are metal machining and highly accurate laser cutting of tube profiles to be formed or joined to make other components.

At the company’s plant in Sweden, one of the main activities is the welding of tubes to form components for furniture and other end products.

The company had found it difficult to find skilled welders capable of producing components to the high standard demanded by its customers. This was reducing its production capacity and preventing it from taking advantage of a rapidly growing market.

To meet this challenge, Lankapaja was keen to apply cobots to its component welding stations, which use Metal Inert Gas (MIG) welding. The company already had experience with six large ABB industrial robots which it uses for arc welding.

Two of the major requirements for the cobots were that they should be capable of producing a high-quality weld that has a good appearance for furniture applications and that they should be easy to use.

The ABB solution

ABB Value Provider JE RobotTeknik has extensive experience of using welding robots in numerous other applications and developed a solution based on two ABB GoFa™ cobots. Using ABB’s RobotStudio® offline programming and simulation tool, JE RobotTeknik ensured the cobots would move in the desired paths at the intended workstation and that there would be no clashes with components or holding fixtures.  

Because they can work closely with people with no need for safety barriers or fences, the GoFa™ cobots take up little space and can be safely used alongside the company’s operators during production. The cobots have also helped Lankapaja free staff for other tasks, as only one person is needed to supervise both robots.

Rapid programming combined with high quality results

ABB’s Wizard Easy Programming no code software is based on simple interconnected blocks, making it quick and easy to produce programs for the GoFa™ cobots. With no need for operators to have any prior programming experience, the software enables a simple program with five to six welds to be created in under five minutes.

Operators also have the option of using lead through programming, where programs can be set by moving the robot to the desired position. Pressing a button stores the position and the program is then ready for instant use.  

As well as ease of use, the GoFa™ offers advanced sensors and motion control technology, ensuring accurate positioning, smooth movement, and optimal torch control. These abilities mean that the GoFa robot welder can handle complex joint configurations, tight spaces, and challenging angles, enabling flawless welds even in the most demanding applications.

For Lankapaja, the combination of the cobots’ simple programming and dexterity has provided the ideal solution to its previous production capacity problems, enabling workers with no experience of robots, coding, or welding to now produce quality work faster than a skilled human welder.  

Andreas Lundberg, Managing Director of Lankapaja says: “The ABB cobots have been a great success for us and the extra capacity they provide has allowed us to achieve growth in the furniture and shop interior design markets, as well as others. We are already creating more space so that we can use six robots run by three operators in the near future, allowing further expansion of our production capacity.”

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