It is a well-known fact that the welding industry has a global shortage of welders says David Wilton, managing director at Lorch South Pacific.
“In Australia and New Zealand, we know this only too well. Top welders are in very high demand and command substantial annual salaries. Many experienced qualified welders are now over 45-years-old and millennials or Gen Z aren’t queueing up to enter the industry in sufficient numbers to even replace the aging welders of today,” says Wilton.
The harsh reality is that it is not going to get any better. Wilton says that significant demand is building for qualified welding operators in the mining, defence and manufacturing sectors. Competition for the limited welding resources is intense and requires premium rates to be paid to attract and retain the best available talent.
Small to medium manufacturing businesses can’t compete in this environment with many struggling to find and retain key welding personnel. Add to this, constant cost pressures and rapidly advancing technologies and you have a “perfect storm” building.
“Today, with the advent of new Cobot (collaborative robot) technology the game has changed. Lorch has had a dedicated team in place developing and optimising welding with Cobots now for many years providing cutting edge, new solutions for companies facing these issues.”
It’s important to note, says Wilton, Cobot welding is not a replacement for industrial robotic welding and Lorch Cobot welding is a new technology segment that is different from industrial robots in many areas:
• Size, weight and portability: Cobots are small, light and relatively portable. They are designed to be used in the general work environment, in close proximity with people.
• Safety: Cobots operate at human speed, have unique integrated safety features enabling close interaction with people with minimal or in some cases no dedicated safety guards or external protection.
• Intelligent Lorch Cobotronic software creates a simple to operate welding system that is typically programed by the welder or shop floor operator.
• Lorch advanced speed processes deliver perfect welding in all positions removing the need for complex and expensive jigs and fixtures.
• Fast setup and simple programming enable much smaller production quantities to be cost effectively welded.
• Capital investment: Cobot systems are typically more cost effective with a quick return of investment.
“By comparison an industrial robot is designed for high production quantities, needs a highly trained robot technician to programme, is not portable, requires extensive safety guards and barriers and typically has expensive jigs and fixtures.”
Lorch has developed a strong partnership with Universal Robots (UR), a global leader in collaborative robot technology.
“What differentiates Lorch from any other manufacturer is its intelligent Cobotronic software and the advanced technology welding power source. Lorch takes the Cobot and creates a purpose-built, fully-integrated, ultra-safe, automated welding solution. Every detail is meticulously optimised specifically for multiple forms of welding.”
The end result is a fast, efficient and flexible, leading industry 4.0 welding solution that is ideal for small to medium businesses producing smaller production quantities. Systems are simple to use and deliver dependable productivity and consistent premium quality welding performance.
Wilton says Cobots are new tools, helping to address the ongoing shortage of welders, closing the skills gap and making the team stronger, driving productivity, efficiencies and reducing costs.
“Cobot welding is growing at an exponential rate across Europe. Lorch Cobot welding is now coming to Australia and New Zealand. Sales demonstration, application and training centres have been setup across the region with accredited Lorch Cobot Partners,” says Wilton.
Lorch certified service infrastructure is already established across the region for backup and support, says Wilton.