The commissioning of a custom designed dual-arm robotic welding system at the Austin Engineering facility in Perth is expected to lift efficiency, productivity and output; benefits that underpin the specialty customised designs the company manufactures for the mining industry worldwide.


For more than 35 years the company has designed and engineered unique production and maintenance equipment, including dump truck bodies, excavator buckets, water tanks and tyre handlers.


The new robotic welding system, along with the obvious advantages of modern robotic welding technology, includes features to improve overall efficiency and product capabilities.


A mobile gantry carrying two six-axis articulated-arm robots, each interfaced with a digital pulse welding module, dominates the system. Mounted on rails, the double gantry provides 14m of longitudinal travel and 10m of lateral travel to service the two new side-by-side production cells, while the vertical travel is 2m.


This system includes both online and offline programming capabilities which allow all necessary programming to be completed prior to the job being loaded into a production cell, an efficient improvement as the previous robot could only be programmed once the component was loaded into the cell.


The online/offline programming feature, combined with the system’s laser tracking, increases arc time, as the robot can weld without having to stop for any adjustments to the program or the job. An ‘out of position’ weld feature also maintains uninterrupted job progress.


“When fully operational, the new system will lift efficiency, productivity and overall capability throughout the facility,” Austin Engineering Perth Operations Manager Geoff Collins said.


The new robot welds marginally faster, but Mr Collins said this was only one of the production improvements the system delivered.


He said overall improvement was a combination of a number of productivity inputs and cited the new robot’s capability to work on all products in the Austin Engineering range – the previous robot was restricted to truck floors.


“Access to the latest robot welding technology and software, the two side-by-side production cells which can be loaded or unloaded without interruption to the robot’s work schedule and advanced planning functionality will all add to overall productivity improvement,” Mr Collins said.


Mr Collins said the benefits to customers would come in the form of shorter lead and turnaround times, which should ultimately improve operational efficiency and productivity.