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Investment into increasing automation pays off – read these five benefits

Investment into increasing automation pays off – read these five benefits

Investment into increasing automation pays off – read these five benefits

Investment into increasing automation pays off – read these five benefits
The higher the level of production automation, the better human resources can be used to focus on tasks that require thought and planning rather than on manual and routine work. In practice, production can be fully automated, from material feeding to storage of the finished product. This means that people can focus mostly on developing and supervising production, and on programming robots; knowledge work that can be done more flexibly and in advance, and which provides the company with intellectual capital for developing business operations and competitive advantage.

Keeping up with ever-fiercer competition requires manufacturing industry companies to scale their production efficiently, sustainably, and in a controlled way without proportionately rising costs and investments in quality control. Welding automation can help to achieve this – below we’ve listed five reasons to invest in increasing production automation:

1) The need for labour does not increase as production rises

When material and information flows are optimally automated, people need only to ensure that the robots are programmed and that they have enough material to work with. Data is transferred between systems automatically, so information is always up to date in the warehouse management system. From a human resources perspective, this is positive not only because it decreases the need for third-shift and night workers, but also creates more jobs that generate business value as routine work moves towards programs, robotics, and planning.

2) Guaranteed investment profitability

The time it takes to deploy the solution and the investment’s repayment period always depend on how big of a step was taken in development. In any case, production will increase, as manufacturing may be several times more profitable after the investment. The most common deployment period for our welding automation systems is 2-3 months. During this period, the solution is further refined to meet the company’s production needs, and production is run at the target speed. After a year and a half, the investment will have paid itself back and begin to generate significant added value for profitability.

3) Capacity will rise in a sustainable and controlled way

The target capacity is affected by the current level of robotics and automation, and how big of a development step is being taken. In practice, it is possible to increase the level of welding automation significantly, but it is usually more sensible to divide it into parts so that support functions can be developed and staff can be trained in line with growth in a controlled way. Great leaps forward are also expensive investments. At the start of a project, we always begin with a discussion with the customer about the level of desired capacity and the kind of development step that is sensible to ensure that the investment generates sustainable growth for the company. Management should initiate this discussion within the company in advance as it creates a framework for the entire project. Based on the targets, we design a concept which we use to automate, robotise and develop production processes. The most important indicator for the solution we conceptualise is achieving the production target, and we guarantee this in full.

4) Quality improves and becomes consistent throughout production

A person can always flexibly adapt and change their behaviour as needed. That has its benefits, but it can also easily lead to misunderstandings, errors, and quality defects arising from a person’s skills, experience, or energy levels. Welding automation removes human factors and ensures that production and the finished product are always of consistent quality. Quality also simultaneously improves. In order for the robot to produce high-quality finished products, the robot must be fed with high-quality materials. The weld and repeatability accuracy improve as there are no fluctuations in gaps, welding angles or tack welds. The working process is also streamlined because the need for repairs and inspections decreases significantly.

5) Work ergonomics and occupational safety improve

The further you go with welding automation, the more people carry out knowledge work rather than manual and physical labour. Tasking robots with welding work, tack welding, and material collection decreases the human workload significantly, which in turn reduces occupational health issues caused by strenuous positions and heavy lifting.

Are you interested in hearing more about how to develop your production automation?

Automation deployment is always planned around the customer’s needs and point of departure. We have delivered light, partial robotisations as well as advanced, fully automated solutions for our customers.

Let us know how you want to develop your production and what kind of solution you’re looking for, and let’s sit down and talk about the possibilities!

Spreadheaded by welding automation, Jucat turns to the European market for growth

Spreadheaded by welding automation, Jucat turns to the European market for growth

Spreadheaded by welding automation, Jucat turns to the European market for growth

Spreadheaded by welding automation, Jucat turns to the European market for growth

“We have planned this for years. We’ve had international projects before, but they were always linked to our existing clients. Now, the time is ripe for starting export operations, and we head to the European market for new growth.”

This is how Jukka Rintala, Jucat CEO, starts the discussion on the company’s export plans. Companies are increasingly interested in finding ways to increase the efficiency of their production and improve their competitiveness. This reflects in sharply rising demand for high-grade welding robots that utilise advanced technology. As one of Finland’s leading manufacturers of automated production solutions, Jucat has taken note of this development. The spearhead of Jucat’s international sales is formed by comprehensive welding automation solutions with which the company aims to penetrate the markets of Sweden and Germany. Jucat’s innovative workpiece positioners serve as another flagship product.

“For the past few months, we have identified viable export countries and honed our export strategy. Marketing and sales activities are already underway, and we recruited Iiro Panula as a new expert to head the international sales operations. Now is the right time to hit the start button. At first, we will target our operations at clients similar to those we have in Finland, namely companies in the vehicle industry. Even though the full-scale operations won’t start until the turn of the year, we have already contacted potential clients and agreed on the first client meetings,” states Rintala on the planning and initiation of export operations.

Reciprocal benefits from close collaboration with ABB

Jucat has a strong standing among European competitors as the company is one of ABB’s Value Provider partners. Thus, future clients can expect high Finnish quality in addition to agile customer support and maintenance services in nearly all European countries as ABB’s local organisations will take care of the robotic systems’ maintenance. The collaboration is fruitful to ABB, too, as Jucat enables the provision of more complex high-quality welding automation systems to a larger group of potential clients.

“When a client wishes to purchase their second ABB robot, we are usually talking about a more complex system that requires a higher rate of automation. This is where Jucat steps in as ABB’s partner. Our aim is to help companies increase the efficiency of their production by automating and robotising welding processes,” explains Sales Manager Panula.

The mood is high at Jucat’s office and future export projects are eagerly anticipated. Jucat’s operating model has never been marked by stagnation. Rather, new development and growth opportunities have been looked for actively. Internationalisation is not only a new page in the company’s story but also a lengthy step towards the company’s growth objectives. According to CEO Rintala, Jucat will primarily invest in profitable and sustainable growth.

“We have worked tirelessly to ensure the success of our export operations, but only at the start of the year will the work truly begin. We will not aim for quick profit. Instead, we will first lay a solid foundation on which we can build sustainable business. We expect reasonable sales over the course of the next year, but we place our highest expectations on the year 2023. By that time, the foundation will have been established and sales can be pressed on at full throttle.”

Export operations headed by a new sales manager specialised in international trade

As part of the internationalisation project, Iiro Panula was recruited as Jucat’s new sales manager whose primary objective is to place Jucat products on the international market. Panula has graduated with a double degree from Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences and Sanda University, and he has previously acted in sales positions in finance and investment as well as headed a software company sales team specialised on the Swedish market.

Panula has kept an eye on Jucat’s growth for a long time, and when the international sales manager opening was announced, he seized the opportunity.

“I saw the opening at Jucat as an opportunity to progress my career. In Jucat’s products, everything falls in place. Marketing them is a pleasure because when selling a Jucat solution, I can be confident about satisfying the client and providing them with genuine added value. As a fringe benefit, I am welcomed in a pleasant work community and get to participate in active teamwork.”

In the manufacturing industry, competition becomes stronger by the day. Today, companies are particularly burdened by increased raw material costs and difficulties in acquiring competent workforce. This creates a challenging environment for improving competitiveness.

“Production must be stepped up. It is the only way to stay ahead of the competition. Welding automation solutions enable multiplied production rates. A robot can work 24/7, and days off or quarantines won’t be a problem. Automation provides stability and enables improved competitiveness in a changing world,” Panula sums up on the modern business challenges and Jucat’s solutions to them.

What would Panula like to say to potential clients?

“If you have any plans on automating your production, be sure contact us, no matter where you are. We’ll see what we can do for you!”

Are you looking for a solution to automate your production and welding? Contact Iiro and tell us more about your situation!

Iiro Panula
iiro.panula@jucat.fi
+358 50 566 4117

A fully automated welding robot can multiply a company’s productivity

A fully automated welding robot can multiply a company’s productivity

A fully automated welding robot can multiply a company’s productivity

A fully automated welding robot can multiply a company’s productivity

Recent developments in welding processes have set profitability challenges for companies who rely on traditional welding methods. Today, production is undergoing automation at an accelerating pace, which puts companies who carry out work manually in an unfavourable position.

To retain profitability, companies need to make investments that temporarily take them out of their comfort zone but can generate results in just a few months.

When we use robots in welding, we can not only improve product quality and the company’s profitability, but also free up human resources for work that requires more thought.

However, there’s no need to jump straight from traditional, manual welding to an army of automated robots; just a traditional robot welding station can improve your productivity several times over. There’s a suitable solution for every company, regardless of the details of your mass-produced products.

Manual welding requires time and precision

In fully manual welding, smaller objects are measured and positioned by hand. During welding, the object is kept on a table or on the floor, depending on its size, and it is turned and moved by hand or using a hoist, again depending on its size. In practice, manual measuring, welding and positioning require extreme precision and take time, and the result depends greatly on the welder and working conditions.

Welding jigs and workpiece positioners accelerate positioning and turning the objects, which makes the entire process more efficient. An object that takes two hours to weld by hand could be welded in just one hour using a jig. Workpiece positioners meanwhile improve efficiency as well as occupational safety and ergonomics, because the risks of occupational accidents decrease significantly. The device also turns objects more efficiently than humans can, which speeds up the work by around 45%.

Although jigs and positioners help in production, they do not sufficiently improve a company’s competitive advantage. The move to a traditional welding robot station is one good way to take your production’s manual welding to the next level.

Robot welding removes variables and makes production more efficient overall

The greatest benefit to robot welding is a standardised process and the removal of variables that result from manual work. Objects that are to be robot-welded are placed in welding jigs and positioned without separate measurement. The object is attached to the welding bracket on the robot’s table and welded in the bracket. In traditional robot welding, a person puts the objects in place, removes them after welding, and selects the correct welding program depending on the object that is being handled. There are usually two people: operator 1 collects the product components and tack welds them using jigs for robot welding, and operator 2 changes the products, selects a program and runs the cell.

In a standardised process, the robot always performs welding according to a pre-set program. This significantly reduces the impact of human factors on the result. It is also several times more efficient. With manual welding, an average of 1 kilogramme of consumables can be melted per hour, but using robots, up to 10 kilos of consumables can be melted per hour.

A multirobot cell elevates a company’s competitive advantage to an international level

When we talk about utilising robots in welding processes, we’re referring to solutions that serve companies of all sizes. In Finland, the majority of companies which utilise robots in welding are still at a point where human labour comprises a significant share of production. By fully automating production, we can free people up for tasks that develop business operations more quickly. This is possible using multirobot cells.

A multirobot cell contains one or more positioner robots and a welding robot, various FMS conveyors that handle material logistics, and perhaps machine vision and laser seam finding/tracking to aid the process. Laser seam finding quickly finds various surfaces and starting points, and then laser seam tracking handles the repair in real time. This always ensures the best possible welding quality. If there are two robots in a welding cell with one welding and the other handling the objects to be welded, machine vision can be used to show whether the parts are always in the correct place and position.

Everything takes place automatically in these cells. The product pallet is fed onto the FMS conveyor in the cell, which automatically attaches to the robot table. A material pallet consisting of objects that are to be welded in the warehouse or supplier premises is also placed on the conveyor, and the positioner robot will pick them one by one and place them on the product pallet. The welding robot tack welds and welds the pieces, which are then transported away from the cell using the FMS conveyor.

The station can be run without operator supervision, and so it is fully automated without a person touching the object at all during production. And as the process is always the same, the product manufacturing site no longer has any impact on the result.

The investment will repay itself in as quickly as 18 months.

Precise calculations on the increase in productivity depend fully on the company, raw materials, welders, and the company’s capacity to deploy the new station. If the company does not have any experience with robot welding, it’s worthwhile to first switch to robot welding, and only then move to multirobot cells later on. This will make the transition easier.

An investment into a robot welding station normally pays itself back in around 1.5 – 3 years. Use of the new station will initially require some learning and incorporation of the processes into daily work, which naturally demands some mental resources from employees. Productivity of a new station is often initially around 40%, but it will rise to a full 100% within around four months, depending on the company’s capacity and expertise. Multirobot cells can achieve their full productivity in around six months. To reiterate, the company’s capacity and previous experience with robots always determines the period of time it will take to realise the productivity calculations.

Customised robot solutions can get even more out of the increased efficiency. We’ve noticed that customised robot welding stations have generally improved companies’ productivity by up to 70%, which is a significant increase in profitability.

Jucat offers top-tier robot solutions in collaboration with ABB Robotics

Jucat Oy and ABB Oy Robotics have cooperated closely on robot solutions since 2014, and in 2019, Jucat became an ABB Value Provider Partner. As a result of the cooperation, we have been able to offer our customers a wider range of automation solutions with which we can significantly boost production quality, safety, and productivity.

ABB Oy Robotics delivers what are referred to as standard welding stations directly to customers. Jucat meanwhile delivers larger and customised welding stations that can handle masses of up to 30,000kg. The stations often also use a range of Hi-Tech features, such as laser seam finding and tracking, and machine vision. For customised stations, Jucat comprehensively handles the stations’ project management, design, and delivery to the customer. ABB meanwhile supplies the robot device components for stations designed by Jucat.

Collaboration also includes mutual sales support and simulations, especially for 3D modelling. The cooperation has increased our geographical reach and we can now better serve international customers with deliveries and maintenance.

Are you interested in boosting production efficiency?

Contact us!