Heavy metal

After having welded sub-assemblies on robots for many years, Faymonville, which manufactures semi-trailers for heavy haulage, has commissioned a large welding robot system from Valk Welding to weld complete chassis. This has enabled the company to greatly improve the efficiency of its small series welding production, maintain its competitive edge in Belgium and strengthen its position in Europe.

Employing 760 people over 5 locations in Belgium, Luxembourg, Poland and Russia, Faymonville produces over 2,000 units a year.

The company specialises in customised trailers for exceptional transport, which are built in a large variety. The COMBIMAX is the latest concept – a semi-trailer system for heavy haulage made up of standardised modules.
Faymonville thus offers a semi-trailer system that can be flexibly assembled according to customer requirements. Together with the universal coupling, this concept is unique and revolutionary in the world of transport.

Designed for welding robot technology
“Welding is a crucial part of our production,” said Faymonville COO and co-owner, Yves Faymonville. “That’s why we’ve been using Valk Welding robots for 20 years for the welding production of ‘smaller’ components up to 1,500 kg. The introduction of COMBIMAX brought to the idea of using the robot to weld complete assemblies. Each module is therefore designed to be welded with the robot. The COMBIMAX modules are still being welded by hand at the moment, but since the market launch we’ve been working on the concept for a new welding robot system.”

8.5 x 27 metre welding robot system
Valk Welding ultimately built a welding robot system comprising multiple stations so that the robot could also weld sub-assemblies during the chassis changes. The overall system measures approximately 8.5 x 27m, conforming to CE specification.
The large and heavy chassis are positioned using two synchronously driven positioners that are able to handle a total of 10,000kg with a total chassis length of 12 metres. Two welding robots are mounted on a gantry structure based on the XYZ concept, so that all welding positions are optimally accessible. In view of the heavy transport on public roads, welding quality is of major importance to Faymonville. That’s why the OEM applies the ‘deep penetration’ welding process, which comes as standard with the Panasonic WGH robots. This is reported to guarantee very deep penetration so that the welding seam preparation can also be adapted in such a way that the welding costs are greatly reduced. A perfect welding position is of major importance here, which is why a system with a total of 22 free programmable axis has been chosen.

A low loader innovation designed and manufactured by Faymonville.

Offline programming
Offline programming was reportedly necessary in view of the very small series and sizes/weights of the products. This was also one of the decisive reasons why this project was carried out together with Valk Welding. Both the ease of use of the software and Valk Welding’s know-how are of great importance. The DTPS software is the common thread running through the ongoing evolution towards greater flexibility.

Thick plate
Heavy duty construction calls for both intelligent search algorithms to stay within the product tolerances and multiple-layer welds in virtually all cases. Traditional programming would take up a huge amount of time. Panasonic offers ‘Thick Plate Software Solutions’ especially for applications such as these. Faymonville uses this software to program a new product every day and is based on Faymonville’s experience which is unique in its class.

Staying competitive
The welding robot system is installed at the Belgian facility.
“The high salary costs make Büllingen our most expensive production location,” said Yves Faymonville. “The best way to overcome this situation was to increase robot welding. We have been able to greatly reduce the turnaround time and delivery time and have also achieved cost savings. Valk Welding has done this for us from design to implementation, and also provides aftersales support.”

Throughout Europe
The Faymonville trailers are sold worldwide via a dealer network. Faymonville even has an establishment in Russia.
“We’re planning to assemble a specific type of low-loader there, making the sub-assemblies for this here,” said Yves Faymonville.

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