The BotX Welder is built on the Universal Robots UR10e collaborative robot arm.
"Many people didn’t believe that collaborative robots could perform such heavy-duty tasks as welding," says Rob Goldiez, co-founder of Hirebotics. “We realized the need of a solution for small and medium-sized metal fabricators trying to find welders."
In developing BotX, Hirebotics addressed two major hurdles of robotic welding: the ease of programming and the ease in which a customer can obtain the system without assuming the risk of ownership. There are no installation costs with BotX and with cloud monitoring, manufacturers pay only for the hours the system actually welds. "You can hire and fire BotX as your business needs dictate," says Goldiez.
The complete product offering comes with the UR10e cobot arm, cloud connector, welder, wire feeder, MIG welding gun, weld table and configurable user-input touch buttons. The customer simply provides wire, gas and parts. Customers can teach BotX the required welds via an intuitive app on any smartphone or tablet using welding libraries created in welding labs. A cloud connection enables 24/7 support by Hirebotics.
Photos: Universal Robots
"With Universal Robots’ open architecture, we were able to control not only wire feed speed and voltage, but torch angle as well, which ensures a quality weld every time,” says Goldiez. "UR’s open platform also enabled us to develop a cloud-based software solution that allows us to ensure a customer is always running with the latest features at no charge.
"The collaborative nature of the solution enables an operator to move between multiple cells without interrupting production, greatly increasing the productivity of an employee.”
PMI LLC in Wisconsin was one of the first customers of the BotX. "A large order would mean we need to hire 10-15 welders to fulfill it – and they’re just not out there," says Erik Larson, VP of operations at PMI. "Therefore, we would no-bid contracts on a regular basis. With the BotX solution, we now quote that work and have been awarded contracts, so it has really helped grow our business."
Now PMI’s existing operators can handle the day-to-day control of the BotX, which welds a variety of smaller product runs. The job shop has now stored weld programs for more than 50 different parts in their BotX app.
Another significant benefit was PMI’s ability to get the BotX welds certified for customers who require this. "This now means we do not need to use certified welders to oversee the operation. As long as the cobot welder’s program is certified, any operator can tend the cobot welder. This really unlocks a lot of resources for us," says Larson.
The BotX is now available to early-access customers and will officially launch at FABTECH in Chicago, November 11-14.