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Valk Welding, Netherlands - IFR-Partner
Grimme chooses welding robots from Valk Welding
Grimme, based in Damme, Germany and world market leader in agricultural machinery for potato production, has selected welding robot specialist Valk Welding's robot welding unit concept. Valk Welding has supplied two units, each with a Panasonic robot and DTPS offline programming. This enables Grimme not only to be considerably more flexible but also to offer shorter changeover times. Grimme produces more than 90 different types of machinery, offering several versions. Welding specialist Erich Schenkel has this to say: "The DTPS offline programming system enables us to program our products outside of production and then weld directly on the Valk Welding robot plant without additional programming."
Grimme found that the number of versions was continuing to increase, while batch sizes were getting smaller; this limits the possibilities of manual programming (using a hand programming unit). Erich Schenkel: "Each new component and each technical change to a pre-programmed article then had to be manually programmed on the robot. The robot was not available for production during the manual programming. For this reason, the management of Grimme have been interested in offline programming for some considerable time now. The advantages are great: Increased productivity due to the uninterrupted production, cycle time calculations, import of 3D CAD files, 3D simulation with impact detection and recording of the welding data."
DTPS (desktop programming and simulation software) was specially developed for arc welding using Panasonic welding robots.
Project Engineer Steffen Kahle: "The benefit of offline programming compared with Teach-in is that it lets us prepare the programming externally, without interrupting welding production. That makes welding of small batch sizes on the robot profitable and increases the duty cycle of the robots."
Components for the Grimme Rotary Hiller (GF) were initially programmed offline in DTPS. This way, the components could be welded by the robots directly, without major corrections from DTPS. Erich Schenkel: "3D modelling is not automatically reflected in actual practice. Tolerances can change during sheet preparation, for example. In order to compare the virtual program with actual practice, we measure the components first with Valk Welding's Quick Touch wire search system. Any deviation in the welding seam is then automatically corrected in the program, before the robot runs. So, with the robots, we get a high-precision, high-quality welding seam."
Erich Schenkel: "Based on our positive experiences and the unique benefits of the DTPS-System, we commissioned Valk Welding to supply a robot plant capable of welding the complete design of our Grimme cutters. Each year, we build approximately 300 Grimme cutters of various designs. We wanted to be able to use the plant to weld all versions longitudinally without any additional devices. Working with Grimme, Valk Welding developed a solution for this that facilitates a continuous longitudinal setting for the manipulator counterbearing. Even the various cutter support positions differ for the different versions. Valk Welding worked with Grimme to write a DTPS program that takes account of all the positions. All we need to do is select the desired position, and DTPS does the rest.
Whenever we adjust a welding seam in the program, DTPS applies this to all versions. This unique advantage of DTPS clinched the deal for us when it came to choosing the Valk Welding system."
With Panasonic and DTPS, Grimme has chosen the Valk Welding system as a long-term solution. Erich Schenkel: "But we had our reasons for choosing Panasonic too. Panasonic makes only welding robots, so all the components, including the robots, controls, wire feed speed, manipulators and programming system originate from the Japanese manufacturer itself. So, all the components are designed to work together. Also, the welding machine and robot control unit are integrated into a main processor. Valk Welding specialises in robotic integration for welding automation and has a great deal of knowledge and experience in this field."