Container Modul turns to Valk Welding for robot reliability

Despite having no robotic experience, trailer and equipment manufacturer, Container Modul, have now reached a point where its automated welding solution is translating into big production increases.

Jumping into the world of robotics can be a daunting prospect for any business, but doing the right research, and ensuring the integration is slow and considered, has reaped rewards for this Polish trailer and equipment manufacturer.

Container Modul produces specialised platforms and hook-lift containers for trucks, and has been manufacturing trailers since 2020. It began considering robotic welding a few years ago and then finally, in 2022, purchased its first welding robot from Netherlands-based, Valk Welding.

“We talked to a company about introducing this into our products, but the project did not materialise because they could not meet our requirements,” said Container Modul’s Production Manager, Tomasz Piskorz. “After a few years, the subject resurfaced and we started looking for a company again. We invited several companies for discussions, including Valk Welding.”

Container Modul opted for a step-by-step approach to robotic welding, buying a smaller station first for the production of container components.

“Before purchasing the first robot, we had no experience in robotic welding,” said, Container Modul’s Director of Technical and Production, Piotr Hawrylak. “Coordinating all activities and acquiring the right skills proved to be the most challenging part.”

A year later, the company decided to invest in a large welding station for its bigger projects.

The small station welds container components and spare parts for containers as service parts, while the large station welds complete vehicle containers.

Poland-based OEM, Container Modul, has invested in Valk Welding robotics. Image: Valk Welding.

Container Modul didn’t take ordering a robot lightly, with the company doing its due diligence. It spent time visiting Valk Welding’s robotic system clients to study how the machines were set up, and the most optimal fixturing solution. It ended up designing its own welding jig concept in-house.

Based in Rymań in north-west Poland, Container Modul employs 170 people. Its products are supplied primarily to the Scandinavian market, Germany and Switzerland. “Our priority is to tailor our products to individual customer needs,” said the Director of the Rymań plant, Katarzyna Okuń. “They are characterised by their high volume and low tare weight. We achieve low weight by using high-strength steel with high abrasion resistance and hardness.”

With a high-quality product, Valk Welding had to ensure the welding robot could meet the requirements. It was able to do so by designing the robot to automatically correct the torch movement trajectory (thanks to the adjustment of dimensional tolerances of large products) and welding difficult-to-weld materials. It also allowed for easy and fast programming of new products.

“We put a lot of emphasis on the quality of our products, which is one of our differentiators and competitive advantages,” said Hawrylak. “Proper preparation of the parts to be welded is important in manual welding to ensure high quality, but it is even more important in robotic welding. It helps to reach full production on the robotic station faster and to achieve the right quality and efficiency.”

Earlier processes, such as precision cutting or sheet metal bending are also important to the final result.

Adapting production for robotic welding sometimes requires structural changes to the manufactured parts, but all with the aim of achieving an optimised design that reduces production costs while improving quality.

Given the current shortage of skilled welders in the region, the fact that the robots have increased production is a big plus, Hawrylak explained. “The most important benefit is the possibility to increase production by 25 per cent to 30 per cent,” he said. “The operator does not have to be a welder, so it is easier to find such a person in the labour market.”

To facilitate work at the robot station, it is equipped with several functions that make the programming and welding process easier. This involves offline virtual robot programming using DTPS software, as well as full sensor capabilities such as Quick Touch Sensing and the ARC-EYE scanning sensor for weld seams.

The small Valk Welding robot in action. Image: Valk Welding.
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