OMRON and AWL Techniek Tackle the Welder Shortage with a Flexible Cobot Welding Cell

May 23, 2021 by Stephanie Leonida

OMRON and AWL team up to develop and market their new cobot welding cell, Qube, for a more flexible, safe, and efficient human-machine welding experience.

OMRON is a global provider of automated systems and products. The company’s product portfolio includes motion controllers,  servo systems, cobots, process sensors, rotary encoders, safety sensors, machine automation controllers, and more. 


Video used courtesy of OMRON


Recently, OMRON announced that it had entered into a collaborative project with AWL Techniek. Together, the companies developed a flexible cobot welding cell, Qube. AWL provides its worldwide network of automotive and manufacturing customers with solutions encompassing robotization, high-end automation, machine vision, and joining technologies. 

OMRON and AWL aim to provide their customers with a unique cobot welding cell that provides better safety, design flexibility, and increased productivity. 


Robotic Versus Manual Welding

Conventional robotic welding has many advantages over manual welding. Automated welding can provide improved worker safety, reduced labor costs, consistent welding with higher adherence to planned weld procedures and quality assurance standards, 24-hour operation, improved weld quality, and increased accuracy. 


A welding specialist working alongside Omron’s cobot. Screenshot used courtesy of OMRON [PDF]


Despite these advantages, robotic welding still lacks some of the benefits offered by manual welding. Manual welding can allow for greater flexibility, and no retraining is required when a new project begins or when project requirements change. 

Robotic welding is typically better suited to large projects with repeatable tasks. When a project is changed, or a different product design needs to be created, it can cost time and money to reconfigure machines for welding to begin with different parameters. 

Manual welding also allows for greater quality control awareness. Manual employees can spot errors in a project and work them out immediately, while a robot may continue to produce until the end of a scheduled production run. 


Workflow Synergy Between Man and Machine

A robot welding cell typically comprises a robot with a welding torch, a turntable with two working sides, and a fume extraction unit enclosed within four walls. OMRON and AWL’s cobot welding cell differs because it incorporates a manual turntable, and OMRON’s cobot carries out the welding. The Qube allows both human and robot welders to work together. 


The Qube. Image used courtesy of OMRON


OMRON’s cobot is programmed in such a way that no programmer is needed. A certified manual welder can initially teach the robot, while a production worker can continue their tasks during the production process. 

Following initial teaching, the cobot can start the welding process, and this can be scaled up for running larger series without a qualified welder. With the cobot’s ability to be taught by a welding specialist, different projects can be accommodated. This can provide customers with flexibility concerning production line changes and the need to weld a rapidly changing array of products. Another feature of the Qube is that it can be maneuvered and used anywhere within a given facility. 

In a news release, Business Developer at AWL, Thomas Modderkolk, said: “With the increasing scarcity of qualified welding personnel, the cobot welding cell is ideal, especially for smaller production companies. With smart system integration, AWL helps to make the production process more efficient.”

OMRON is hopeful that the Qube partnership will increase customer productivity, safety, and employee efficiency.