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Flex e.bot: A unique solution for maintenance of railway networks

Railways

Welding Alloys’ collaborative robot, Flex e.bot has been specially developed to carry out weld surfacing jobs. Hardfacing operations by arc welding are essential and offer a true solution for restoring and extending the life of rail networks.

Despite being a skill that is sought after, the welding trade is suffering from a lack of uptake and is no longer appealing to young people. This is most likely due to some negative perceptions associated with the profession and the effects on the welder (fumes, welding positions, etc.).

Faced with this observation, Welding Alloys has developed an innovative solution that makes it possible to retain its welders and keep its in-house welding skills. The Flex e.bot is a cobotic solution allowing hardfacing welding in direct collaboration with the welder. The cobot (collaborative robot) offers a real comfort to the welder, thus freeing them from binding tasks and allowing them to focus more on more valuable activities.

PUTTING THE WELDER AT THE HEART OF INDUSTRIALIZATION

This cobotic solution fits directly in the industrial era 4.0. A real evolution in the repair and maintenance of urban area rail networks, which puts people and their knowledge at the heart of industrialization.

The six axes of the cobot offer the welder the ability to define with precision the optimum movement of the welding torch, integrated in the Flex e.bot.

Strictly speaking, it is no longer about programming, because it just takes a few clicks to define the area to be hardfaced and the welding technique (direction and inclination).

Using the touch controls is simple and user-friendly. The Flex e.bot has a lightweight design and is compact, meaning it can easily be deployed on site. Two adapters have been developed to place the cobot as close as possible to the area to hardface:

  • For rails above ground, a mechanical clamp will take the shape of the rail. The cobot will then attach itself on this support via a base connector.
  • On a lorry, a magnetic support can be fitted to transform it into a mobile welding station.

In order to maintain some flexibility, the welder can, at any time, regain control by disconnecting the welding torch of the cobot to perform manual operations (pointing, retouching, finishing, etc.).

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