The new robots will support the manufacture of the Mabey Compact 200 (C200) modular steel bridge system. The investment is designed to enable the system to be manufactured more quickly, more safely and more efficiently. Once operational, the new manufacturing time for the C200’s panels and chords will be nearly halved.
Existing automated welding systems perform several functions in the current manufacturing process including making the panels and chords of the C200 bridges, with smaller welds being completed by hand. Panels are also manually transported between three separate machines.
In contrast, the new robots form one complete cell to manufacture both chords and panels, thereby removing the intermediary steps.
An employee will load the raw materials, at which point the robots take over and manoeuvre the heavier components, weld all sections together and make it ready for drilling. The new process requires the same amount of manpower as before and there will be no reduction in head count when operational.
Mabey Brid chief executive Michael Treacy said: “This investment in the next generation of industrial robotics demonstrates our commitment to investing in and accelerating our own manufacturing and construction processes. It also represents our broader aim to help our customers achieve their goals more quickly, more safely and more efficiently.
“Significantly, the robots will reduce health and safety risks by removing manual lifting and handling whilst enhancing the quality of the weld, guaranteeing consistency and increasing output. In addition, the robots also reduce the need to reach and weld the more awkward places further improving quality.”
The new robots will be fully operational by March 2017, ensuring Mabey’s Lydney factory has the capacity to manufacture up to 2km of steel bridging a month.