The Welding Shop Project

In the late 1960s, Cincinnati Milacron had workanl robotic technology. One of the first interests of agement was the application of this new technologi1 -

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other corporate divisions. One division that seemed to have a natural fit was in the Metal Fabrication Division because it had many repetitive jobs and the opportunity for significant cost savings.

In the early 1970s the division ignored the robotic i technology. They showed no inclination to seek out ¡: and use the robots in their operations despite their - apparent advantages. The president of Cincinnati Milacron, along with upper management, as an incen-. tive, offered to provide robots without cost or overhead charges to the divisions. Despite this offer, no strong interest was evidenced in their adoption and use.

In the period 1977-79 an executive committee reviewed the entire company's manufacturing processes. One of their decisions was to move ahead and apply the company's existing expertise in robot t welding to the firm's own operations in the Metal Fabrication Division. They told the weld shop that a welding robot would be installed because: (1) other 1 divisions of the company developed and marketed ro-|bots including robots for welding and they needed a • readily available customer demonstration site—thus an on-site application could be used as a marketing and selling tool; (2) customer-specific technological Problems could be investigated in-house rather than 6oing outside; (3) there were some welding applica-hons in Milacron's manufacturing process that would be improved by the use of robotic welding techniques. For example, Cincinnati Milacron welded box-type enclosures such as hydraulic tanks and electrical cabi-*< nets whi,:h were particularly appropriate for robotic ; applications.

Project Development and Implementation

Jhe project was initiated in September 1980 when the easibility study on the first welding robot indicated . e Potential for a good return on the investment. The group that worked on the project consisted of a nager, an engineer who was familiar with welding, and a welder from another division brought in as a technician. None of them were experienced with robot welding.

The year 1981 was spent in the welding shop developing techniques and methods for the robot cell. The project initially experienced resistance by some people in the weld shop. In lanuary 1982 the project was physically moved into the production area where its capabilities were demonstrated to the foundry management and welders alike. By |une 1982 this resistance had disappeared with the demonstration of the robot welding hydraulic tanks. The quality, consistency, and speed of the robot dispelled any reluctance to adopt it. A second robot welder was requested by welding shop management and installation was completed by lanuary 1983. The third, devoted solely to heavy welding, was put into operation in |uly 1983.

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