Automation & robotics in the welding industry is the demand for the time
Q. As a prominent player in the welding space, what trends and innovations are you observing that will continue to shape the future of welding?
A distinct trend to improve welding productivity across sectors is emerging. Enhancement in productivity contributes significantly to reduction in costs. The resultant economies of scale will enable the manufacturing sector to be more competitive. Automation and Robotics in welding can make this possible.
Additive Manufacturing (AM) is a disruptive technology. It will have a huge impact on the way we manufacture in the future. We should focus on those aspects of AM, which are complementary to welding technology.
A case in point is Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM). WAAM is a large-scale metal Additive Manufacturing process that uses the arc welding process to produce metal parts additively. WAAM has the potential to offer metal additive manufacturing solutions across industries, particularly for production of large metal components.
Another trend that is clearly visible is the emphasis on doing things right the first time. The realization that, while cutting costs is vital, quality is the best way to do so, is gaining credence in the industry.
Q. How are technology trends like robotics and automation influencing the welding industry?
Automation and Robotics (A&R) in welding is the driving force behind Factory Automation. A&R in welding has multiple benefits
1) Improved Quality
2) Increased productivity
3) Less Wastage / Scrap
4) Lower variable (labour) costs
By reducing the skill demands on the operator, automation helps in producing welds of consistent, repeatable quality more efficiently, along with savings in material, time and costs. A&R in welding allows fabricators to scale up volumes, shore up quality and compete globally.
While the automotive sector has embraced A&R in welding with outstanding success, other industry sectors are gradually coming around to realizing the benefits and are now exploring possibilities to introduce automation in their welding processes.
Q. What kind of opportunities are you expecting from International Congress 2020 (IC-2020) being organized by the Indian Institute of Welding?
IC-2020, with the theme ‘ Advanced Welding Technology and Quality Systems for Developing Economies’ is expected to get together welding technologists and professionals from educational and research institutes and the industry in India as well as abroad, on a single platform. Over three days, authors and delegates will interact, discuss and share information on latest trends and developments in Welding and Cutting Science and Technology.
In short, the event is a unique opportunity for connecting industry with academics and R&D organizations.
Q. What products do you plan to showcase at WELD INDIA 2020?
Weldwell Specialty Pvt. Ltd. is a marketing organization representing various foreign principals . We stock and sell duty-paid goods for the convenience of users. Since 1990, we are known for making available high-end consumables, equipment and accessories at the customer’s doorstep. Our strong technical background and product knowledge is available to the industry to recommend right solutions for diverse and critical needs of the industry.
We are participating in Weld India 2020. We plan to showcase our complete product spectrum at this Event. On the occasion of this twin-event, we are coming out with a special issue of our quarterly technical newsletter, ‘Weldwell Spectrum’, which is in its 26th year of publication.
Q. Comment on the present status of the Indian Welding Industry, vis-à-vis global peers.
The Indian Welding Industry has grown rapidly in the past few decades. However, the industry still relies heavily on imports, for meeting its needs for special consumables and high-tech welding equipment. In line with the ‘Make in India’ initiative, foreign companies should be encouraged to set up manufacturing facilities in India. Not only will this enable technology transfer, but also create employment opportunities within India.
Currently, the Manual Metal Arc Welding (MMAW) process accounts for close to 70% of the weld metal deposited in India, vis a vis a process share of 25-30% in most major economies of the Americas, Europe, South East Asia and Far East. There is a crying need to facilitate an expeditious shift to more productive processes.
Q. Comment on the challenges to Indian welding industry.
There is a slowdown in the Indian economy, with the GDP growth for FY20 estimated to be around 4.5%. This will have a negative effect on the short-term prospects of the Indian welding industry. The automotive industry is the worst-hit and the negative impact is slowly spreading to the rest of the manufacturing sectors.
Automation in Welding is not as widespread in the manufacturing sector as one would expect. Only a few large organizations have automated their welding processes. MSMEs, by and large, have not yet taken to utilization of automation for a quantum jump in productivity. They will have to be provided technological and financial support for the necessary investment in automation.
R&D in the Indian manufacturing sector suffers, due to very little attention and investment. Indian organisations need to focus on path-breaking innovation through a sincere R&D effort, which, coupled with productivity enhancement, can help in the creation of an export-driven economy.
The skill sets that the workforce in India possesses is an indication of how quickly organizations adapt to the new challenges that are thrown up by changing trends in the industry. The workforce will have to be trained continuously and re-skilled and up-skilled to handle new technologies and processes for giving output of the desired quality and quantity at optimum cost.
Q. What are the future growth prospects and opportunities for welding in India?
Welding is an enabling technology. The demand for welding consumables and equipment is directly linked to the consumption of steel. At 100 Million Tons of steel used, India is the third largest producer of steel in the world in FY19. The consumption of steel in India is expected to double in the next 5 years. The market for welding products will grow in the same proportion.
The Government is targeting to grow the economy from the current GDP of USD 2.77 Tn to USD 5 Tn by 2024. As the manufacturing sector gears up to contribute to the realization of this objective, a spurt in the demand for welding products can be expected.
As mankind strives to master the elements and improve the quality of life, needs are created for new-generation materials that are :
1) Stronger / tougher / lighter
2) More resistant to service life conditions / media
3) Less Harmful to the Environment
The development of such new materials necessitates the development of new welding processes, equipment and consumables. This creates a huge opportunity for the welding industry and will require commitment of necessary investments in R&D effort, capital equipment and skill development.