is transported, deburred, scanned, and positioned correctly so that the material
handling robot can place the part on the beam. Using the wire tip as a touch
probe, the welding robot detects the beam’s true position, then tacks the part.
Finally, when all the parts are tacked in position, the robot arm welds the pieces.
The industry has moved from manual fabrication to comprehensive automation. The leap has been a large one, with massive reductions in labor and huge
increases in output, and technology will continue to drive the industry forward.
This isn’t to say that every modern structural fabricator has become fully automated. The rate of technology adoption varies widely within the industry, and
it has always been this way. Indeed, many may be surprised to find that some of
the technologies described here have been around for so many years.
Some structural fabricators continue to move closer to full automation, while
others remain manual in many respects. Regardless, automation technology is
available, while skilled labor increasingly is not.
Adrian Morrall is president of Voortman USA Corp., 708-885-4900,
www.voortmancorp.com. Photos courtesy of Voortman USA Corp.
A beam is moved into position as a material handling robot positions a vertical plate
for welding onto the web section.