The welding automation solutions offered by Valk Welding have not gone unnoticed, even in Australia. Recently, Valk Welding delivered the first of four welding robot installations to Australian trailer builder MaxiTRANS.
With the deployment of welding robots, among others, MaxiTRANS aims to double its market share on the Australian continent.
“Valk can be one of the few to help us successfully automate the welding production of complex parts in small numbers,” General Manager Advanced Manufacturing Brad Givvens and System Development Manager Brendan Broughton explain.
MaxiTRANS is among the largest manufacturers of trailer combinations in Australia. The acquisition by Australian Trailer Solutions Group (ATSG), a private equity firm in which Germany’s Schmitz Cargobull is also a shareholder, offers opportunities to increase scale and expand market share. This will require investments in production technology, with a particular focus on welding production because there too, a shortage of skilled workers is a growth driver.
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“Because most trailers are custom built, the first step was to find the right partner. The opportunities to find a robot integrator who can successfully realise welding robotisation in a high-mix, low-volume production are virtually impossible to find in Australia,” said Broughton. “Through the many videos Valk Welding publishes of its projects online, we became convinced that Valk Welding could provide good solutions for complex low-volume workpieces. A tour at European trailer builders confirmed our impression. In previous attempts at using welding robotisation, we got stuck with a lack of expertise in welding and programming knowledge. Instead, we need a partner who can help us further in that rather than just selling a system.”
“Our first goal is to increase trailer production from eight to 10 per day,” said Givvens. “To this end, we submitted products we want to weld with a robot to Remco H. Valk. His advice was to start small by welding only sub-assemblies and grow from there. That way of thinking appeals to us. For us, it is not just about the technology and support, but also about the attitude and relationship.”
“With the deployment of the Valk Welding welding robot systems, we are also making the switch to offline programming using 3D CAD files,” said Givvens. “In the past, we did that online, which was too time intensive. Valk Welding is also first in automatic programming using their ARP solutions. In this, we will soon be working according to the latest developments. A number of our employees will be trained for two weeks in the Valk Welding Training Centre in the Netherlands. We intend to install a separate robot for internal training, which we can also use as back-up. When necessary Valk Welding will also help us to build special robot torches, for the time being we use their standard equipment, which is also calibrated for perfect results when using off-line programming”.
For local support, Valk Welding can fall back on Orion Automation, the Panasonic dealer for Australia, which Valk has been working with for some time. Remco H. Valk: “Despite the fact that we do not expect to have to travel to Australia for an intervention, support from Orion was a prerequisite for us to start supplying projects to the Australian market and have in-the-field support.”
What is next?
“Next systems planned are for welding aluminium parts, shafts, components for tippers and a robot installation that can be used for both aluminium and steel parts,” said Givvens. “We are also investing in state-of-the art sheet metal working machines to ensure well-fitting products for the welding robots. Overall, the investments should yield an increase in quality, a reduction in production time and savings in production costs.”
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