Due to a severe shortage of skilled manual welders, manufacturers are increasingly relying on welding automation to increase productivity and efficiency. The widespread adoption of automated welding equipment across industries illustrates how robotic systems will shape welding in the future.
210 Hours of Research
32 Experts Interviewed
People in the welding industry are concerned about automation after reading numerous articles in magazines and newspapers.
Due to the increasing sophistication of technology and the potential savings of automation, welding is likely to be automated in the next five to ten years.
It’s not that simple. Since the Industrial Revolution, these fears have remained the same.
However, many people believe that the future is not as fixed as they think. Automating a job depends on the diversity of the worker.
Smaller businesses can have the same footprint as larger companies thanks to automation. Automation increases production. However, there are several reasons why welding workers may not have to give up.
The Current State Of Welding Automation
The first reason is that manufacturing products requiring welding won’t be as expensive as it was before. Both smaller and larger factories will get a boost in welding capacity. This gives smaller businesses a more significant market share. The revenue of larger companies will go up.
Secondly, automation will shift from production to design, so the product’s quality will be better and there’ll be more small businesses.
As automation of the future takes full effect, the growth of small businesses will create more jobs, even though the number of mid-size companies will probably decrease.
I understand that welding automation is a complex topic. According to TWI, welding automation uses robots to increase the performance of the production of welds.
This automated welding process increases the speed, precision, quality and also minimises the chance of errors or inconsistent welds compared to manual welding. Some examples of companies that provide welding automation solutions are MillerWelds and Lincoln Electric.
Aside from robotics being able to lay beads eventually, skilled welders will have to teach the robots how to do their jobs. Computer programmers will not be enough. Another factor is that robots are efficient at repetition, but not at variation.
Despite a weak economy and a decreasing skilled workforce, welding has managed to stay profitable. Robotic automation is already being used to fill welding needs by companies outside of the automotive industry.
It’s not uncommon for non-automotive manufacturers to invest in automation. About 14 percent of other sectors combined have done so. Companies are increasingly looking into this.
Automation is most likely to be adopted by end users, management, and distributors. Any welding company that falls behind will lose customers, since automation is expected to be a huge part of the future. Automation is their most effective chance to stay current in their industry.
When Will Welding be Automated?
Despite not yet having a welding automation future, it’s clear the trend is already underway. The price of robotic welding has dropped, so automation isn’t just for big welding companies anymore.
With the advancement of automation, we’ll be able to get even more efficient machines, much better trends, and more cost-effective machines.
There’s a reason why the welding industry is so optimistic about automation. While some disadvantages are obvious for workers, the benefits include more affordable and higher-quality products, and fewer middlemen will make production more efficient.
While welding automation has advanced, the future isn’t here yet. It’s not possible to automate welding to the next level right now because artificial intelligence isn’t there yet.
Automation needs artificial intelligence to replace humans in production. People have gotten better at their jobs because of the artificial intelligence revolution.
With each hour, they’re making more efficient lines. Despite the fact that human workers still have to program and oversee the automated machines, the possibility exists of automating tools that will program themselves. It would help to lower the cost of welding products even more.
Automation In The Welding Industry Replaces Jobs
Distribution relationships with customers are crucial to the success of the supply chain as a whole. Distributors must stay abreast of the latest developments in automated welding in order to succeed.
Distributors who fail to stay competitive are likely to lose profits. The best option is for distributors to learn new technologies now.
As a result, they can be trusted resources for their customers. The manufacturer and dealer can benefit from the relationship. Welders are hired based on their skills and experience.
Even if robots can lower manufacturing costs, experienced professionals will still be needed. They’ll need skilled welders to program them. They need to be able to weld, but also understand the limitations.
Welders are versatile. Automated robots cannot decide because they are products of their programming. The company will gain profits and grow, which will create more jobs.
Automation: Implementation and Results
If you’re buying pre-engineered cells, you’ll get a faster return on your investment and it’s easier to implement than custom cells. You just need to install the basic system on the assembly line. The first step is to figure out which process is repeated the most. A tested training program is the best way to train the robot.
Welders must take pride in their work in robotics training if the line goes down. Support for robot’s trainers must be available if the line goes down.
With an automated welding cell, you get consistent quality and more production. A company can see a three-to-one productivity increase in under two years.
A welding robot starts near the start of the manufacturing line, so that we’ll get the best welds with a little less splatter.
Everyone working on the line will benefit because there won’t be any clean-up or quality issues. It’ll be great for end-users, customers, and distributors. Automation won’t solve every problem.
There’s always more efficient and effective equipment available due to new technology, which contributes a lot to the profitability of any company.
A recent improvement in arc data monitoring is a great example. In order to stay profitable on a global scale, you’ve got to stay on top of welding and automation technology.
The Expected Future of Automation in the Welding Industry
The price of these robots is always dropping. They’re already on the market with an operational cost cheaper than the salaries of the current workers.
It’s predicted that welding robots will cost below $2 an hour by 2025. In comparison to a human welder, which costs $25 an hour in the United States, this is a staggering savings.
Automating is better for repetitive tasks than for new ones. In the majority of welding jobs, you have to change your skills constantly, so you’re more likely to lose your job to automation first.
It’s still cheaper than hiring experienced workers from countries with low incomes. Jobs that require more fluctuation will be safe for a while.
Robots can do most jobs better than humans at a lower cost. The reliability levels that make this possible are just now being reached, which dramatically improves automation’s marketability.
Artificial intelligence can perform nearly any job better than a human consistently. The computer won chess against the world champ back in the 1990s, and that’s an excellent example.
Because chess is mostly math, nobody gave it much credence. Computers have always been great at this, so much more recently a computer beat the best Jeopardy players in the world. This shows how advanced machines are now.
The Go champion of the world was beat by a computer recently. Based on a cognitive perspective, it seems there’s nothing a computer can’t do better than a human at.
Once robots start fixing nearly everything around the house, the whole concept of automation will change drastically.
There’s a distinct possibility of handyman robots in the future. The future will impact labor dramatically.
Many experts believe this will hurt political and economic systems that took a lot of time to build. The simplest answer is yes, but the question is how long it’ll take to develop the technologies.
During the next decade, the world will change significantly. GPS replaced maps, and the internet replaced libraries.
Welding workers may be concerned about their jobs, since robots can already do these jobs. As for the welding industry, repetitive objects like tube sheets, seams, and nozzles can already be done by robots.
In the end, it’s too expensive. Operators still matter because computers can’t tell if the welds are going wrong. Scraping expensive alloys is a cost no company wants to incur.
Over the next twenty years, the concerns are expected to grow. Eventually, computers might do assembly inside towers.
Eventually, a boom with a robot could be dropped. The robot will scan, get oriented, and weld. Any welder who’s not doing odd jobs or repairs may have to worry in the next 30 years.
Robotic welding might be affected by the same technology that affected G-codes for machinists.
It’s inevitable that there will be disruptions within the welding industry in the future. Which jobs will be lost is yet to be seen, but some of the bigger companies are already investing in automation.
Welding in the Future: Automation’s Benefits and Limitations
By eliminating errors caused by welder fatigue, automated orbital welding offers several key benefits over manual welding.
Benefits of Automated Orbital Welding
Purity: Automated welding provides a sanitized environment for high-quality, contamination-free welds.
Consistency: Welders can create consistent welds because the orbital weld head moves steadily and consistently without having to start and stop.
Safety and Productivity: The remote weld pendant from orbital welding lets operators adjust weld parameters remotely. Furthermore, automation improves precision and reduces waste and rework to improve productivity.
The orbital welding equipment still requires a welder’s knowledge and skills to operate it correctly and understand welding parameters like molten puddles.
Investing in automation and setting it up can be expensive, not to mention the costs of hiring and training welding technicians.
Can Robots Replace Welders?
Earlier this year, the Robotics Industries Association wrote an online article about cloning master welders with robotics that started with, “With all the talk about robots replacing people, we’re here to show that the robots can’t do everything by themselves.”
There was an article that featured Zane Michael, a welder who began his career in 1979 and has a master’s degree from Kettering University in manufacturing and operations management, and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.
A director of thermal business development for Yaskawa Motoman, an Ohio-based robot manufacturer, Michael markets welding automation throughout North America as the Director of Thermal Business Development.
When Michael was speaking to clients or manufacturers, he would inquire about their interest in robotics. He discovered that the main reason was either they were unable to find qualified welders, or they were unable to keep them in place.
During this discussion, Micheal stressed that welders have the ability to produce robot programmers who are of the highest quality; so if you want to become a top-notch welder, you would need to study for nine months in a school in order to know about the welding process and become certified.
A robot can be programmed more easily than it can be welded. Michael then goes on to say that it’s easier for someone to learn how to weld than to learn how to weld.
Suppose, for example, a hired operator who does not understand the welding process is given a weld to work with a robot and is not able to do it correctly.
It is very likely that an experienced and certified welder who understands the whole process will be able to program a robot in just two weeks if he or she is taught how to do it.
How Will Welding Jobs Change In The Future?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2016 and 2026, the number of welders, solders, brazers, and cutters will grow by 6 percent, about the same rate as all professions. It will be necessary for welders, brazers, cutters, and solderers to assist in the restoration of bridges, highways, and buildings that are aging across the country.
Is There Automated Welding?
Electronic weld process controllers are used in automated welding systems to ensure a high degree of weld integrity. This allows instantaneous quality control by combining mechanized torch motions with electronic recalls of welding parameters.
In The Future, Will Welding Be Obsolete?
In spite of the fact that robots and automation have taken over some jobs that would have been impossible without human labor, welding will not be obsolete in any way. Welding is a complex craft with its own set of unique challenges that no amount of technology can solve.
How Long Will We Need Welding Professionals?
There has always been a need for skilled welders since the Bronze Age. The demand for welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers will grow every year between 2020-2030.
How Will Welding Look In The Future?
Welders are in high demand. Based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of welders is expected to grow by 3% over the next decade. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 36% of welders in 2020 were 45 or older, which could result in 13,600 more jobs over the next decade.
Will AI Replace Welders?
There will not be a complete replacement of welding jobs by robotic processes; welders will still have to work on dies, tooling and other fabrications as well as welding repairs, welding on architectural components and countless other kinds of welding.
It is expected that in the future, some welding jobs will be performed primarily by robots. The tasks that will be performed will be repetitive, unsafe, or require welding at a rate that is beyond the capabilities of a human welder.
There are already many robots doing many of these jobs, and the number and scope of these robots will only increase in the coming years as time goes on.
Human welders will still be able to do a lot of welding jobs, such as welding on tooling and dies, architectural welding, welding repair work and many other types of fabrication, even if robots are replaced by them.
For the foreseeable future, these types of tasks will be better performed by humans because robots are expensive and difficult to program. The task may be performed by robotics in the distant future, but at the same time human beings will still be more cost-effective than technology at that point.
THE TEAM THAT WORKED ON THIS REVIEW
Hi, I’m Andrew Miller — a certified welding expert and instructor based in Long Island, NY.
With over three decades in the industry, I’m passionate about combining theoretical knowledge with hands-on experience to train the next generation of skilled welders.
I specialize in all forms of arc welding, including GMAW, GTAW, GMAW, FCAW & SAW. But my experience isn’t limited to just those—I’m also knowledgeable in oxyfuel gas welding and plasma arc cutting.
My years as a welding inspector and supervisor have honed my ability to ensure the highest standards in welding quality and safety, making me adept at executing and overseeing complex welding operations.
You can find more information about me on my website, weldingzilla.com, or connect with me on LinkedIn.