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Waiward Steel Fabricators of Edmonton Alberta, Canada has selected SmartTCP to automate its structural steel-welding process.

The robotic welding solution, which is designed for steel fabrication, combines hardware and software into a flexible and efficient welding cell that will automate both the robot programming and the weld production of Waiward’s high volume of one-off and small batch parts.

Jim Kanerva, vice-president of operations for Waiward Steel Fabricators, said: ‘We researched robotic systems from most major players in the North American market, always finding that there were important components missing to achieve a welding automation solution well suited to our structural steel needs.

‘We selected SmartTCP because it was the most advanced in addressing our needs.’ Efi Lebel, founder and chief executive officer of SmartTCP, said: ‘Waiward Steel, like most structural steel fabricators, has to deal with custom fabrications where every single piece, beam or column can be completely different.

‘Our turnkey solution is ideal for just this challenge as it provides the most comprehensive, efficient and cutting-edge welding-automation solution possible to address positioning, fit up and programming issues, giving small-batch fabricators a system that can quickly, accurately and reliably weld any weldable part in any number of welding scenarios.

‘Waiward Steel needed a complete solution to deal with high piece-count projects with batches of one.

‘The solution needed to deal with the specialised welding demands of structural steel, including large multi-pass welds on thick bevelled material, full penetration, heat distribution and the ability to handle inaccuracy/variances in part fitting and joint gaps.’ Kanerva added: ‘When we saw the SmartTCP solution we knew that this was the solution.

‘It was as if it was designed specifically for our situation and for our industry.’ The SmartTCP solution to be implemented in the Waiward facility will include a bridge gantry system with two SmartTCP head and tail positioners (30,000lbs capacity each) specifically designed for structural steel, one ceiling-mounted six-axis articulated robot, welding equipment and the SmartTCP welding-automation software.

The welding system will allow the company to produce more parts more quickly without additional employees and in the same amount of production space.

These benefits, coupled with the increased quality and reliability of robotic welding over manual welding, will give the company an additional competitive advantage within their industry.

The off-the-shelf system is scheduled to be installed in September and SmartTCP anticipates Waiward will be up and running production parts within six weeks, an extremely quick installation considering the machine size and complexity of the technology to be installed.

From benchmarking efforts and experience SmartTCP anticipates that Waiward will be able to weld with two operators what would normally take approximately eight welders to complete.

Overall, this will result in greater and more efficient throughput.

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