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Preventative Maintenance Tips for Welding Automation

 

Preventative maintenance for welding systems

Routine maintenance will keep your robotic welding cell system running at peak performance. It will help ensure your system achieves maximum up-time, life expectancy, and return on investment. Here are some guidelines and tips to help achieve the best results.

Robot and Controller Daily Maintenance Tips

1. Begin each day or shift with a visual once-over of the welding cell to inspect the overall health of the robotic system.

2. In welding cells, hoses, wires, and protective coatings of electrical wires are exposed to UV light and will break down and crack over time. Be on the look-out for signs of loose or broken fittings or damaged hoses/hard tubing, such as any visible liquids on the floor or equipment. If you would like to proactively prevent this problem, fabric covers can be purchased to extend the life without restricting movement.

3. Air and hydraulic clamps can be degraded or destroyed by the buildup of spatter. There is also a risk of splatter or slag, if plasma cutting, or burning a hole through the tubing in the clamps, causing a possible fire hazard. When hydraulic tooling is under high pressures, it is good to be extra careful; the tiniest pin hole under pressure can cause a lot of damage to the surrounding area if ignited. To be proactive with this issue, you may want to consider a hydraulic fluid that is more fire resistance.

4. The hardware on the robot and surrounding tooling needs to be inspected for signs of loose or missing bolts. All safety covers should also be in place and visually noted and verified. A sight glass to help identify fluid level and color for the robot gearbox oil is also be helpful for a quick safety check. The inspector should check for fluid level (potential leak identification) and darker color (high heat or contamination). Robots and fluids are typically designed for maximum temperatures of 45 degrees. Operating at higher temperatures than this will mean the grease degrades faster and will show signs of this by changing color.

5. Air leaks will present themselves through sounds. If you hear the sound of an air leak, it could be an air line with a burn hole or a fitting that has worked it way loose.

6. It is also beneficial to try to pay attention to the sounds of your equipment while they are running. Grinding noises or awkward vibrations could be a sign of a mechanical problem.

7. A final item recommended to inspect daily is the robot master position and corresponding user tool values. This helps ensure all items are properly located and accurate before beginning production for the day.

Robot and Controller Interval Maintenance Tips

There are some items that should be checked based on the amount of time it has been running or a set period of time. 

1. These items include: checking the grease of robot and positioner gearboxes, looking at the color and level of grease, and battery replacement (where used) on a regular, typically a yearly, basis.

2. The robot control cabinet should be cleaned; the fans and fan ducts should also be free of debris. If the location of the system is close to cutting and grinding operations, make sure airborne contaminants don't get inside the controller and the exposed circuit boards. Any unwanted dust or oil could lead to a short or potentially even a fire.

3. To wrap up the routine, interval maintenance, back up the robotic software on a regular basis. As technology continues to advance, it is important to stay on top of programming techniques to help the robot return to production in a much shorter time frame.

Welding Equipment Maintenance Tips

The other welding equipment in the cell is imperative to further support the robot and controller; so these items are also good things to check on a regular basis. 

1. Check the cable condition with special focus on the connection points. Loose connection points or cable strands can affect the overall welding performance and could cause cables to generate more heat.

2. Rotary grounds should be properly lubricated with conductive grease.

3. Ensure the cooling system for the power supply and welding torch is clean and able to exchange heat efficiently. When using a water cooler for welding, verify the clarity and fluid levels of the water or cooling fluid. If these items aren't done, algae can grow which would decrease the overall cooling performance and lifespan of the system.

4. When a shielding gas is used in welding applications, it is excellent practice to check all gas connections and fittings for leaks and also validate pressure and flow.

5. The consumables would be the last items on the checklist for the welding equipment, general recommendations as to when to change consumables is available through the welding equipment supplier. This includes wire guide rolls, wire delivery systems, torch liners, tips, nozzles, and diffusers. The usage, condition, and frequency of when they need to be addressed will vary.

Furthermore, we expect to see the quickly advancing technology and incorporation of Internet of Things into automation solutions help with preventative maintenance solutions as well. Through the use of various algorithms, trend analysis, and data collections, computers should be able to closely predict when equipment needs attention.  

Contact RobotWorx Experts Today

Once you adopt a regular routine for inspecting a welding cell you can expect your investment to stay at the quality you expect. It will truly create the longest possible life span for your equipment.

RobotWorx experts are ready to help integrate a robotic system onto your production line and provide you with the tools necessary to set it up and run it to its maximum potential. Contact the experts today online or at 740-251-4312.


Source of information from: http://weldingproductivity.com/article/robot-upkeep/