The challenge: automation of MAG welding of ball valves

The welding of ball valves using the MAG process with a nominal diameter of 15 mm to 125 mm was to be automated according to the customer's request. For this purpose, we designed and delivered an industrial robot including a welding device including installation, commissioning and programming. The system configuration was to be designed as flexibly as possible in order to be able to fully cover the extreme variety of products and the extensive range of components.

In addition to reliable system technology, this required a software solution that was both reliable and flexibly adaptable. In such cases, we customize our proven in-house development Lasaco Dynamics. This software ensures optimum functionality and flexibility while at the same time being easy to program. With this solution, it is possible for the customer to reliably map even very complex work steps.

Automate complex work steps in welding technology

The operating personnel can independently adjust all parameters for the system functionality on the finished industrial robot thanks to an intuitive input mask on the screen. From complex clamping sequences to complete setup and teardown processes of the welding device to automatic insertion and removal of components, all operating steps can be tracked on the industrial monitor.

This functionality enables highly diverse requirements to be mapped and even complex work processes to be automated, such as when welding ball valves using the MAG process. Our industrial robot had an integrated IPC including an industrial monitor and an active compressor cooler to protect the components from overheating during the welding process.

Simple and safe operation of the welding robot

The productivity of a production line also depends on how easy it is for the operating personnel to handle. Of course, safety must not be neglected at any time. Lasaco Dynamics makes it possible, among other things, to display safety instructions (e.g. removal of components only with gloves) on the control monitor.

Ease of use is one of the key advantages of a system programmed with Lasaco Dynamics. In this particular case, for example, it was necessary to select or deselect individual weld nests because the complex components required up to three work steps. This functionality allows personnel to respond individually and quickly to complex production sequences.

During the welding process, a considerable amount of heat is transferred to the components, which can sometimes become a problem for the speed of the production process. Active cooling of the components by a powerful compressor cooler was therefore the best choice for this customer. Workpieces that have already been welded can be cooled as required in the integrated cooling tower, which has five stations.

For the rapid and effective removal of finished components, the industrial robot was also equipped with a conveyor belt, to which a crane gantry was added due to the sometimes very heavy weight of the components of up to 44 kilograms. This makes it much easier for the personnel to handle the workpieces.

The components used in the integrated industrial robot with MAG welding technology:

The Kuka KR 16-2 robot, the reliable Fronius CMT TPS500i power source and the Fronius WF 60i welding nozzle are the actual core components of the production system.

Kuka Robot KR16-2

Data sheet KR16-2

Fronius CMT TPS500i

Data sheet Fronius

Fronius WF 60i

The highlights of the ball valve welding with MAG project at a glance:

  • optimal functionality and maximum flexibility thanks to Lasaco Dynamics software

  • easy operation due to integrated IPC including industrial monitor for visual control

  • active component cooling with compressor cooler during the welding process

  • cooling of finished components in fully integrated cooling tower

Details of the functional diversity of the welding robot:

With our system solution, the customer can weld up to 1000 different components in steel or stainless steel design. When using stainless steel, the MAG welding system automatically monitors the control of the forming gas. In addition, welding and forming gas are regulated via an external gas storage monitoring system.

A tactile sensor on the industrial robot compensates for component tolerances, while the laser distance sensor of the welding device constantly checks the correct position of the components.

Other highlights of the facility:

  • continuously adjustable clamping pressure of the welding device from 1000 Nm - 7000 Nm for correct pretensioning of all components

  • central exhaust of welding gases in cabin and cooling tower

  • manual turntable for easy feeding of components

  • transport of the parts to the deposit via two controlled conveyor belts

  • integrated cabin crane for heavy components

  • maintenance access to the robot system through roller shutter and maintenance door

  • Networking for Industry 4.0 requirements for seamless recording of data on production status, component completion, gas monitoring and error messages.