Welding is an essential part of most industries. From manufacturing industries to services industries it is a vital component of any industry. It is important to get the right equipment for the job. This will not only ensure a good quality job but, also ensures the safety of the personnel operating the equipment. Good quality machinery is less likely to lead to accidents. This said having protective gear is also paramount while operating this kind of equipment.
As technology inevitably keeps getting better and better by the day with new innovations and concepts, the welding industry has also experienced this growth.
The Industry 4.0 Impact In WeldingWhen it comes to next level industrialisation, the concept of digitising industries always pops up. Integrating industry processes has been an ongoing process with its challenges and successes. The Industry 4.0 is a concept that aims at the realisation of smart working factories. For this to work data needs to be shared over platforms that enable experts and scientists to formulate solutions and concepts that can be milestones to realising a smart factory. This also impacts the welding industry. The welding parameters need to be digitised and microprocessors take over the welding hardware and software necessary for the welding process.
This will inevitably lead to the need for ultrahigh-speed communication of the machines and also the internet as the process and information will be stored in a cloud. Cyber-security will also be an issue to address with the smart factory concepts. The processes and information stored in the clouds need to be secured against Cyber-attacks.
Digitised WeldingA welding cell needs support from the relevant welding materials and calibrations. Depending on the task at hand it also needs the welding implements. For this to work there needs to be a working cell with the relevant knowledge and data stored in a remote cloud. It is, therefore, necessary that the welding machine is connected to a high-speed internet connection. This will enable the machine to get the relevant information from the cloud fast and enable it to carry out the task at hand without glitches. For arch welding, information about the base metal, welding speed, welding consumable, joint geometry and shielding gas are relevant for the process. This information is important for the welding personnel to key into the machine to carry out the process flawlessly.
Communication is one of the vital factors that the success of smart factories will be reliant upon. How fast is the communication in welding processes? For modern short arc processes, like the CMT the frequency is of about 150HZ. This is equivalent to a droplet each 7ms. To optimise the droplet transfer it is important to have an interaction of about 50-100 during one arc cycle. This will lead to a communication of 30 µs from the electric arc to the microprocessor which is fast. The same speed can be used for data processors and for the welding parameter controls. Handling of huge data sets is challenging because transferring the data in real time is difficult. Data communication has to be divided into high-speed communication within the power source and data communication between the power source and the cloud. This makes it easy to transfer the information.
Data Storage & Parameter Selection In WeldingThe automated working cells are the backbone of the Industry 4.0 project. With automated working cells, a computer can select and change the welding parameters. Control of parameters requires real-time response. A powerful computer is important to facilitate this. Selection of the synergic line, a function of the base metal, sheet thickness and gap depends on the actual welding process. This can be done from the cloud via a welding parameter management system. This system will select the most viable option as per the task at hand.
The data storage will be useful to cover customers’ interest and preference. This will also be helpful in documentation and analysis related to mechanical failure and wear management.
The smart factory concept is realistically achievable. The variables relevant to the process are workable and outlined making it easier to achieve. This will be a milestone for the welding industry as it will improve on efficiency and precision of the machinery.