Used Welding Robot Finds Home in South America
Fanalca S.A. is a motorcycle assembly and manufacturing company for Honda located in Cali, Columbia. With 1,079 employees at their Cali, Columbia plant, their speciality is assembling Honday motorcycles for domestic sale. Columbia is required by the government to manufacture 17% of motorcycle parts locally. This is part of the reason Fanalca is looking to automate production.
Thanks to RobotWorx, a robotic integrator based in Ohio, they were able to install their first welding robot. "It's very exciting for us because it's new technology for our company," Morales said. "We are starting with only one part, but the objective is to introduce [robots to handle] more parts of the motorcycle. The objective is to introduce more parts of the motor, frame, and fuel tank."
- Fanalca needed a robot to perform MIG welds on motorcycle fuel tanks.
RobotWorx Solution Details:
- The Robot: RobotWorx supplied Fanalca with a reconditioned Panasonic VR-006GII robot. This 6-axis model has a 6kg payload and requires 3-phase 208VAC incoming power.
- Welding Package: The robot was sold with a full weld package, which includes an air-cooled Tregaskiss welding torch, wire feeder, and collision protection.
RobotWorx' solution has been a success! "With the robot, the welding process is 46% faster than the manual method. Plus, the quality, appearance, and penetration of the weld has improved," Fanalca spokesperson and engineer Andrea Morales said.
"The most interesting thing about this project is the work environment," she said. "The people are so happy. This is the first step in the process of automation, on the long road to improving productivity."
Now, with the robot successfully installed in the Fanalca facility, Morales said the results have exceeded expectations. "The robot replaced the welder in the processes of large lots, and the operator is limited to manipulating the material, and in some cases inspecting the end weld result," she said.
Though Fanalca has been able to achieve higher weld quality and repeatability levels with the robot system, they are still dealing with a learning curve. "Robots have the capacity to react to small changes in the process that vary the final outcome substantially," Morales said. "We must try to change the mentality: the focus should not be solely on the benefit of the welding process in the overall piece, but rather the opposite, that the loss is a piece (or a lot) with a bad weld."
According to Morales, RobotWorx offered two things other companies didn't - fast service and low-cost robots. "The answer (from RobotWorx) was very fast," Morales said. "This was very attractive - both the cost and the very fast response. With other companies we'd have to wait weeks to hear."
Plus, RobotWorx keeps the cost of its refurbished robots low. Companies can save up to 50% from the cost of new when they buy used robotics systems.
RobotWorx has a long tradition of selling robots throughout Canada and Mexico, but intercontinental sales are a relatively new development. The first robot was sold to an automotive company in South Africa in early 2007.
Fanalca also took advantage of RobotWorx free training offer. Andrea Morales and fellow engineer, Alvaro Gomez, traveled to the RobotWorx facility in Marion, Ohio, for hands-on training with the robot. Morales and Gomez trained for a week under the direction of project manager Robert Edens Jr., before heading back to Columbia.
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