In an interaction with Industry Outlook, Sachin Dobhada, Head of Research, Development & Quality (Equipment), Ador Welding Ltd. shares his insights on the increasing emphasis on sustainability and environmental concerns in the welding equipment market, key challenges facing the market, the role automation and robotics play in the welding industry and more.
Nowadays, welding equipment is primarily equipped with Inverter-based technology which is assembled using electronic components. An important factor for any electronic component is its reliability and the selection of the right components for product performance. Another challenge facing the welding equipment market is voltage fluctuations in input power supply lines. The reliability of equipment comes through adhering to standard manufacturing processes and tools, like using standard torque-controlled tools for assembly, handling the electronic components in antistatic environment, and assembling the entire welding equipment preferably in a dust free and temperature/humidity-controlled environment. Regarding voltage fluctuations, Electronic Protections are included to protect the equipment from it.
With the increasing emphasis on sustainability and environmental concerns, what challenges does the welding equipment market face in terms of developing eco-friendly and energy-efficient welding processes and machinery?
Equipment with inverter-based technology is 30% more energy efficient than old thyristor-based and transformer-based equipment. Hence, the market has shifted to this latest technology-based equipment. To protect the environment, the electronic components and parts used in machines comply with ROHS compliance, where restricted materials like Lead, Mercury, Cadmium and other similar 10 elements which are not safe for health as well as difficult to dispose are not used. Recyclable plastic materials are being used. Engine driven welding machines are required to comply with the noise and pollution emission norms set by the Central pollution board.
What role do automation and robotics play in the welding industry, and what challenges arise when integrating these advanced technologies into traditional welding processes and equipment?
In jobs involving long welding runs and high-volume repeated processes, automation in welding helps to maintain consistent throughput. The automobile industry and similar industries, where welding on irregular shapes of fabrication are required in mass production, benefit from robotic welding which provides aesthetic, consistent and efficient welding output. For automation and robotic welding, the power source needs to be capable of interfacing with automation/robotic controllers. The interface communication between the welding power source and robotic controller utilizes standard digital protocols. Since traditional welding equipment typically have analogue circuits, they cannot be used for such integration.
In an era of skilled labour shortages, what challenges does the welding equipment market face in terms of designing user-friendly and accessible equipment that can be operated by a broader range of workers, including those with limited welding expertise?
More attention is given to the usability and user-friendliness of the machine so that deskilling of welding processes can occur. Digitally controlled arc dynamics have been designed where arc waveforms dynamics are controlled by software in the welding power source controller. This gives more flexibility to the user for handling the welding torches while welding. In a power source with single-point synergic control, users can set the welding parameters by just adjusting one knob on the front panel. This has simplified the setting of the machine and does not require any expertise. Technology can also play a role when skilled labour shortages are prevalent, such as apps and software that help laborers do a better job with minimum training.
What are the safety and health challenges associated with welding equipment, and how are manufacturers innovating to reduce occupational hazards and improve worker protection in welding environments?
Protection against electrical shock and mechanical hazards associated with welding machines is taken care of by designing the machine to comply with the International IEC 60974-1 standard or equivalent BIS standard. This allows users to use the machine in hostile environments without any electrical shock hazards. By using ROHS components/ parts, manufacturers can restrict the use of health-hazardous materials. The welding equipment industry is attempting to use batteries to reduce noise and pollution when working is required in remote locations where utility power is not available.
As industries like aerospace and automotive demand higher precision and quality in welding, what challenges exist in terms of developing welding equipment capable of meeting these stringent requirements while maintaining cost-effectiveness?
More and more stringent requirements are arising as we aim for precise and high-quality welding jobs. There are many challenges involved in such processes where on one side, one needs to minimize the heat-affected zone (HAZ) low and on the other side, achieve the necessary penetration. Sometimes, very thin metal welding requires keeping the HAZ low without any spatters. Regular and standard analogue circuit-based equipment cannot provide this flexibility. Machines with new welding process like Pulse MIG and Pulse TIG where welding current waveforms are controlled digitally with software, are being developed. More and more development work is being conducted to achieve the flexibility in welding arc waveforms to meet these requirements. This is accomplished with machines using a digital platform with the help of embedded software designing.