Welding is not a clean process. Weld spatter and water expulsion are two inescapable byproducts. At least that’s what the managers of three Canadian automotive plants believed before learning about Parker’s Water Retract Actuator (WRA). With this technology, when a weld tip needs to be changed, the water supply is cut off and then the actuator pulls and holds with suction, any water still left in the weld gun or in the water lines behind it. Dry tip changes and weld cells are the results.
Multiplying the amount of time saved by the number of tip changes every day, and then by the number of welding robots, and then by the number of operational days every year, the savings from the WRA adds up quickly, as these three OEMs learned.
Each of these three large-scale Tier 1 automotive manufacturers located in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, have a different story to tell when it comes to dealing with their messy welding operations.
- Before modernizing, one of these three plants had reached the point where they were retrofitting their weld cell equipment with coverings to prevent water ingress in the electronics. Even with that solution, they would have to reposition robots and place a five-gallon pail every five or six weld guns to keep the water from getting on the floors or spraying the walls.
- The second plant was more conservation-minded and wanted to stem the flow of wasted water entirely instead of diverting and dumping it. On top of that, this plant had spent a lot of money to paint its floors. One of the side effects of this expulsion process was that the chemicals used in the water were damaging that paint, so they were constantly repainting their floors. Those chemicals also tended to irritate workers’ skin. The water at such plants can differ in pH and chemical content from job site to job site, depending on the make-up of the plant plumbing—from hoses to pipe.
- The third plant was more conscious of wasted motion than wasted water. They determined that if they could save a few seconds of manufacturing time on the body line every time they welded a component, a system that automated the tip changing process would pay for itself in three months or less. The fact that they could protect their new automated equipment and nearby employees from water damage were important benefits on top of a rapid ROI.
All three plants have enjoyed similar benefits from Parker’s Water Retract Actuator, but it has inspired different plans of further action—both for these companies and for Parker.
The water conservation minded plant is going to look deeper into the real cost of its water usage. They’re going to run one production line with actuators and one without to determine their real cost of downtime and water waste. One of the other plants is going to put actuators on every new line to maintain their world-class production status. The third plant has challenged Parker to further develop this technology so it doesn’t have to use air to extract the water. The new production lines they’re installing will not include pneumatic feed lines for their robots. Parker is looking into that innovation.
To get more information immediately, download our new whitepaper “Four Solutions for Preventing Resistance Welding Line Downtime.”
Contact a Parker specialist to learn more about these and other weld cell solutions. Article contributed by Tim Ritter, Parker Hannifin Corporation