Topic: FP7-SME-2012-BSG Research for the benefit of SMEs
Title: CLAMPIT – Intelligent welding clamp design software using computer-aided optimization for SMEs to achieve high precision assembly
Abstract of the project:
The aim of CLAMPIT is to develop a versatile tool set(s) with computer-aided optimization for the SMEs to accelerate high precision assembly processes carried out by welding. The objective of this project is to create a software solution which helps to decrease setup time and costs and which will increase efficiency of both mechanical and human resources. These significant advantages accrue to SME welders in terms of competitiveness and profitability.
Description of the project:
Innovation in the manufacturing/engineering industry to improve the efficiency of workflow is an evergreen topic. A number of attempts have been and are being made to improve different areas of this wide sector, but even with these new methods and improvements the industry is reaching record lows across Europe. This is especially true for welding which requires highly trained staff but the number of welders are decreasing each year. There is a serious need to improve welding processes as a whole allowing companies in this sector to survive and to be able to compete with other parts of the world.
Welding workshops operated by SME companies are a basic unit of industrial manufacturing. Economic pressures are forcing these firms to find solutions for wasteful and time consuming tasks, like creation of custom clamping assemblies for each set of pieces to be welded. The design and fabrication of the clamping assembly itself involves time and costs both for design and fabrication. These clamping assemblies cannot be adapted to other production tasks, and become waste themselves. The end-users need a solution that would allow them to increase the efficiency in designing and manufacturing clamping assemblies used for both robot and manual welding that can even be reused. Particularly in case of robot welding, positioning of the pieces is critical for the automatic system to work correctly.
Our initiative to equal the technological conditions of the SMEs in the field of welding compared to the high industries would have the following positive outcome. (1) Based on an easily applicable technological innovation the SMEs options for being subcontracted would be increased. (2) New vital relationships would be formed between the SMEs and the high industry. (3) The high industries would gain flexibility, what would serve for their survival later in economically hard times.
The recent assembly processes are CAD file driven, including welding processes as well. In this case the envisioned solution consists of n innovative software that can be optionally linked to existing hardware components.
The software component of CLAMPIT can analyse any given option saved in the CAD file in order to determine the best conditions (e.g.: clamping angles/forces/etc., the required setup elements for clamping, the appropriate points for clamping the assembly pieces, the layout for optimised part distribution on the work-bench, the proper part order of the welding, the directions of optimised welding trajectories, etc…) to complete the welding process. Namely any task on the welding-table is driven by the processed orders of the software component what are partial utilised by the hardware components and partial should be setup according the orders handcrafted by the skilled workers.
The software will give important information to the user on its own, but it can also be linked to any existing versatile clamping table on the market allowing the user to (a) determine measurable fixing positions of the items intended to be welded and (b) for the holding and positioning of a laser pointer with high degree of freedom above the welding-table to aid the user during welding.
The Business Benefit
The main goal of this project is to develop a versatile tool set(s) with computer-aided optimization for the SMEs to enable/accelerate high precision assembly processes carried out by welding. The other objectives are dealing with cost effectiveness, quality monitoring, work-flow optimization, ensuring modularity based functional-life-time extension options.
By decreasing setup time and costs, and increasing efficiency of both mechanical and human resources, significant advantages accrue to SME welders in terms of competitiveness and profitability. CLAMPIT will also significantly decrease time-to-market for small batch production. Large enterprises will also benefit by having an increasingly capable and flexible supplier base for high quality components from SMEs.
Partners sought and role in the project:SME
In the consortium there will be small and medium size companies from different parts of Europe to ensure that the research complies with their requirements.
Specific area of activity of the partner: metal-working, ironworks, steel structure production
We are looking for welding-table and clamping table producers, manufacturers which have got professional experience in the production of welding-tables and are able to take share in the development of a new welding clamp design software solution.
Enrique Machuca García
Tel.+34 955 40 55 78 – Fax. +34 955 03 98 35