Oqton, Valk Welding Partner to Automate Robotic Welding
Belgium’s Oqton, a software provider developing intelligent automation, and Valk Welding, which develops flexible arc welding robots, have announced a partnership designed to help automate the welding industry. Oqton said its software will become part of Valk Welding’s Automatic Robotic Programming (ARP) solution for high-mix, low-volume (HMLV)_ production.
The Valk Welding ARP powered by Oqton will enable 10x faster programming than traditional offline programming systems, the companies said. In addition, automated robotic welding is 3x faster than normal welding, at up to 4x lower cost than manual labor. The new techniques and processes the companies will jointly develop are intended to enhance the utilization of automated robotic welding for unique or small batch production, which previously was only economically viable using manual methods.
The system autonomously generates robotic welding programs directly from 3D CAD files, which also reduces the need for costly programming. The software uses artificial intelligence to learn from an operator’s best practices to refine processes for future parts. As a result, welders can use the software without previous knowledge of robots or 3D geometry, Oqton said. This includes sectors such as steel fabrication subcontractors who are manufacturing lifting platforms, transport pallets, fencing, and automotive sub-frames.
“We’re super excited to be partnering with Valk Welding,” said Mark Forth, general manager of industrial manufacturing at Oqton. “Together we will help customers take their first steps towards fully automatic robot welding, using ARP powered by Oqton.”
“Happy to have Oqton in our ARP,” added Peter Pittomvils, CCO of Valk Welding Group. “Our market lead in 100% offline programmable welding robots is ready to make the jump to the next level. Besides our own projects, we also support Oqton to all other Panasonic system integrators to also serve their customers with this great solution and our experience.”
Oqton said that more welders are retiring each year than new welders coming into the industry, showcasing a need for automating the welding process. The American Welding Society says the average age of a welder is 57, and by 2024 the group estimates there will be a 400,000-job deficit in the welding industry. In Europe, the availability of welders is decreasing by 2% each year, along with a shortage of robot programmers with welding knowledge.
For more details on Oqton, visit its website here. To learn more about Valk Welding, visit its website here.