Metal Werks was started as a sheet metal shop with welding capabilities in 1991. Since that time Mark has seen his business, as well as, the demand for welded products grow.
When did you look into robotic welding arm and why?
We looked into a robotic welding arm about three years ago. We had always welded products here mostly small batches. But over time those smaller jobs turned into larger, more production type situations and that is when I started to really look at a robot.
What size quantities are you welding with the robot?
Different size runs, anywhere from 100 to 3000 parts on a run and they may be different parts every time, but the time savings using the robot is like having three people doing the same job at the same time, only it’s one, the robot. It’s made a big difference, it allowed us to take on the larger jobs with the larger quantities.
So it’s not just large production runs you are welding on the robot?
No. We have been running this one particular part for 17 years, they order from me once every month or 45 days and generally it’s about 50 or so parts. I recently had my operator program the robot to the pre-existing fixture because it (the robot) will weld it faster and every part will be the same.
“…the time savings using the robot is like having three people doing the same job at the same time, only it’s one, the robot.” -Mark Ruble
How has the use of a robotic welding arm affected your staff?
I have hired people since I have had the robot and it’s not taken the place of anybody, it’s just made us more productive.
How has that helped your business?
If I can run a job on the welder and not tie up labor in that job, those people can work on another job that would normally have to sit and wait. In the past, I may not have been able to take a job if they needed a quick turn-around, but with the robot, it really frees us up to do more work.
Is there a certain welding skill level that the operator needs to have?
Once the program is written anyone can run it. You just load the parts into the fixture and it runs and while the robotic welding arm is working, the operator can go work on something else. What other benefits has robotic welding added to your product? Just the clean up and the finished work after the robot welds is a whole lot quicker. It has reduced or eliminated secondary processes.