L&S Technischer Handel
Collaborative welding robot enables L&S to produce to order rather than for stock
In 2016, L&S Technischer Handel GmbH experienced an increase in order volume. The constantly high utilisation of production capacity resulted in enormous pressure and a longer delivery time, and made CEO Torsten Lezius realise that something had to be done. An investment in a CoWelderTM solution enabled the company to produce to order rather than for stock.
A need for welded spare parts of high quality
Since its foundation in 2000, L&S Technischer Handel has grown steadily. At first, the young family business only supplied parts for the auto business and industry. However, it soon spotted opportunities in the waste and recycling industry where several customers requested spare parts which were difficult to procure with the desired quality.
Welding department was at the limit of its capacity
L&S's welding department was constantly at the limit of its capacity, which meant it had to choose between employing additional staff and investing in an automated welding device.
"However, it soon became clear that the automated welding option was the one to go for as it was difficult to find qualified welders in our area“, Torsten Lezius, CEO, explains.
Robot solution for welding small batches
L&S manufactures rather small batches of 50-800 units and in different variants, which would result in significant costs related to the time and resources of a programmer to program and alter a traditional automated solution.
In light of this fact, L&S‘s local welding-equipment dealer turned their attention to, and demonstrated, the enormous flexibility of the CoWelderTM solution.
Flexibility exceeds expectations
L&S manufactures spare parts for a variety of types of waste containers, roll-off containers and ASP containers. Owing to its many end products, the product range has grown tremendously over the years.
Because of customers’ irregular ordering behaviour, it is not possible to keep all spare parts in stock. Rarer components are produced to order, which requires extra flexibility by the welding staff. As these components are typically exposed to enormous loads, welds seams have to be of high quality. And of course, L&S had similar high expectations of the CoWelderTM solution.
“We are pleased with the CoWelder because programming components and switching from one component to another is easy – its flexibility is amazing", says Torsten Lezius.
The robot is like a new colleague
The employees had a very positive attitude to their new 'colleague', which made it easy to introduce the CoWelderTM into their daily work. They never saw the robot as a rival, but used it from day one to carry out previously tedious tasks.
Torsten Lezius was surprised to see the creative abilities of his employees and their ability to find additional components that could be produced faster, better and more cheaply using the CoWelderTM.
Welds 6 components in 10 minutes
If no rush orders are using the CoWelderTM to capacity, the robot typically manufactures two units of a component at a time on three component stations on the welding table, which makes a total of 6 components. The duration of this type of rotation takes around ten minutes including the preparation of fixtures, depending on type and size.
Can easily combine and recall programs on the robot
Once a program for a component has been prepared, programs are randomly combinable and recallable by a few clicks on the robot touch screen. This way, the components are mixed at random and you can switch between the types and order of the produced components.
Delivery time cut in half
The CoWelder has a large production capacity. Even if conservatively calculated at only 5.5 cycles (as opposed to 6) per hour, it has a capacity to produce 264 complex components per day.
“We have started producing for stock again. It used to take at least twice the amount of time for the same volume of production. For some components, we are able to reduce delivery time from two weeks to one. And we are glad to say that basically our proficient welders are not burdened by it. Components lie ready in the evening as if by magic“, says Torsten Lezius.
Operating the robot is easy
Operating the CoWelderTM, i.e. placing components in fixtures, starting up the welding and subsequently removing the components is typically dealt with by staff operating a saw close-by.
Any waiting time at the saw can be optimally utilised by operating the CoWelderTM. Programming and setting the system is dealt with by Torsten Lezius or a technician.
Once the process has been set and the first components have been flawlessly welded, saw operators take over. They only need some quick and simple guidance on safety and how to operate the CoWelderTM. Accordingly, optimal utilisation of time minimises wage costs and improves productivity.
Halves the production time for individual components
The conclusion is that at times the CoWelder more than halves the production time for individual components, improves welding quality, production capacity and flexibility and helps to reduce delivery time. A very fine result after a just few weeks’ operation.
Examples of products
L&S produce steel containers in different sizes (length, inside and outside diameters) and in batches of several hundred. On each side of the component, the axle bushings are welded with two circular fillet welds. Semiautomatic production with CoWelderTM has clearly improved both production speed and welding quality.
Roller holders for containers are also produced in different sizes. On each roller holder there are twelve fillet welds, eight of which are in a downward position. Welding time from beginning the first weld to finalising the last weld has been reduced from approx. 5 to 2.45 minutes. Moving the component on the welding table used to be very time-consuming.
Outside container door mounts
The mounts are easy to place in the fixture which accommodates ten mounts in two rows. Welding four mounts takes around 1.10 minutes.