We are a structural steel fabricator and I have been interested in a robotic solution for the last couple years. When we financed our new facility a python or pcr42 or a vortman machine was in the budget. Unfortunately the oil market has crashed and so have our sales. Investing 800k or more int these machines is simply not an option. There is not enough work to sustain a capital investment of this size. This brings me to where I am now. I find myself competing against others suppliers that are in Edmonton with this equipment and more labour force to chose from.
I feel there is a gap in the market regarding this technology. In the past cnc plasma tables were expensive like the pythons and similar, but technology has made it that almost any fab shop can find a cnc plasma table solution within there budget. Some are not hi definition or have minimal size and or bells an whistles but they all save a tremendous amount of time.
I have only started looking into the robotic solutions and am trying to educate myself as to "where the technology is" I can't pioneer this field on my budget, but perhaps I can put together some pieces to the puzzle and if nothing else educate myself. I know that given my northern location and lack of labour and overpriced labour I will need to rely on robotics to stay competive and growing my buisness including cutting and welding.
Some questions I have are
- do I need a new robot
- how do I program a robot ( I have seen some offline solutions)
- because we do structural steel many parts are "one offs" so there is no chance for repeatability. Will the software be automated enough to make this viable, how long will it take to program 1 beam? and next is the software affordable?
We have drafting design staff operating solid works and I can purchase dstv conversions. I have also designed many of our specialized fabrication equipment so designing and fabricating the "cell" is exciting and completely within my capability.
This is just a start to my questions.
can anyone help me with this or have any advice for me?
where I can start?
Thanks in advance!
All Class Fabrication