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Content archived on 2024-06-10

On-Board Automatic Welding for Ship Erection - Phase 2

Exploitable results

Welding operations on the edge of blocks and sections of a ship in the dry-dock or in the slipway during the final erection, especially as regards the interior of the ship, are usually carried out manually. The working conditions for the human operators are very uncomfortable and the related costs are high. The shipyards are strongly motivated to automate these operations to eliminate man presence in the confined areas inside the ship. Whereas welding robots exist and are already used in the workshop, they have not been employed in the dry-dock/slipway. The main reasons are the difficulties to access the cells and to move inside. The development of a mobile robotic welding system to automate this phase of the ship construction would result in the following benefits: - Increase in the productivity by a factor of 3.6 by increasing the welder's arc time in confined spaces and the deposition rate. - Reduction by 10% of the assembling lead-time in the dry-dock/slipway, which is the bottleneck of the ship production process, thus resulting in an increase of the throughput (and of market share). - Better quality of weld execution thanks to the automated process, with reduction from 20% to 10% of the defective welds to be reworked. - Improvement in quality of work life of the human operators, with positive effects on the reduction of absenteeism provoked by working in an unhealthy environment (confined and contaminated by smoke). In this project a robotic welding system will be developed at industrial prototype level, which will consist of: - A mobile platform, to reposition the welding equipment inside the cell. - A lightweight manipulator, mounted on the platform, to perform the welds. - The welding equipment including power source, torch, wire feeder, etc. - A vision system to accurately measure the workspace prior to welding. - A control console to program and supervise the system from outside the working cell. The present project is the second step of a BRITE-EURAM project named ROWER and referred to as ROWER-1 in the following. The present ROWER-2 project aims at fulfilling the objectives mentioned above while expanding the objectives of ROWER-1 and in particular to design and manufacture a new European lightweight manipulator. Keywords: Robotics arm; Welding system; Manipulator; Vision system; Welding technologies.

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