Concrete Mixer Drum Welding Line

Project summary

MWES provided this truck manufacturer with automation equipment to robotically weld booster cone sub-assemblies. The sub-assemblies were to be welded using Lincoln weld equipment and positioned by MWES Skyhook Positioners. They are then transferred through the system via roller and chain conveyors.

The Challenge

Our customer was having a difficult time finding and hiring enough skilled welders to fit and weld discharge sections of the drum. 

  • Mixer drums are a consumable item, so as the customer produced more trucks they also created a demand for replacement drums which they could not keep up with
  • Fabrication of a single booster cone was time-consuming in terms of “arc on time” but also in terms of material handling as parts were large and difficult to handle
  • They needed to maintain a small machine footprint
  • In-process manual stations had to be provided to allow operators to inspect and fit additional components onto the drum
  • The customer requested a flexible system that would allow them to modify the cone geometry without reprogramming the entire system
  • We also needed to minimize operator interaction with the machine (automate part handling as well as the welding process), this was especially challenging as the drum needed to be repositioned many times to make the necessary welds

The Solution

MWES provided an adjustable fixture station that could adapt to different cone geometries and would allow the operator to consistently fit and tack parts prior to loading them into the system.

  • The operator would transport the cone from the manual tack station to the first robotic welding station where the first of 5 weld passes were made around the center reinforcement ring and the top reinforcement ring (drip ring) was fully welded
  • After the first operation, the system would automatically pick the drum and present it to the next station where 2 robots would weld 2 of the 4 remaining passes on the center reinforcement ring, as well as the 4 longitudinal seams (inside and outside, full penetration) of the drum. All 15 axes were coordinated to allow the 2 robots to weld simultaneously while the positioner spun the cone
  • The system would then automatically place the cone on the adjustable pallet and move the drum to a manual station
  • In the manual station, the operator would inspect the completed welds and tack the mixing/discharge fins into the assembly
  • The drum would automatically index to the station where it would fully weld the fins to the cone section, the cone needed to be rotated during this phase so MWES developed a drive system that would couple/decouple from the pallet to allow the robot to spin the cone
  • After fin welding, the pallet would transport the cone to another positioner where the robot would pick the cone from the pallet and make 2 remaining weld passes on the middle reinforcement ring, then place the cone back on the pallet to be shuttled out of the cell

Impact to the Customer

The final system MWES provided our customer brought about the following improvements to their operation: reduced the amount of skilled labor needed to produce the cone sections, the final system required 2 operators to run, part-to-part time of the finished cell was under 30 minutes, and increased safety by reducing the amount of manual part handling that was needed.

Midwest Engineered Systems has a wide range of experience in robotic welding systems. If you’re looking to improve your welding throughput, we have the knowledge and experience to make the project a success.

Contact us to learn how Midwest Engineered Systems can automate even your most complex and challenging operations today!

Innovation Through Automation

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