Page 34 - MetalForming June 2016
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 Multiple grades of steel require use of different welding-wire types and multiple passes to produce finished buckets.
assembly under the overhead crane. The system welds the bucket in six dif- ferent axes, with a variety of wire diam- eters at each axis, starting with as little as 0.035 in. dia and going up to 1⁄16-in. dia.
“We will do anywhere from 3⁄8-in.- thick fillet welds to 1-in.-thick groove welds that require multiple passes,” says Bob Willoughby, ACS president. “Above a 3⁄8-in. thickness are all multi- ple-pass welds that require multiple movements and multiple programs for all of the axes.
“In many of our buckets we are welding two different grades of steel, which requires two different process- es,” he continues. “Lincoln has helped us develop those processes and select the wire and gas required to weld the different grades. So it isn’t a process where you just stick a bucket up there and use one wire. The machine has to pause for us to change to the proper wire. We’ve been very successful at that.”
And given the rigorous demands of the buckets’ end use, quality and pre- cision are paramount concerns, says Willoughby.
“These buckets are digging at the face of a granite wall, or they could be handling molten slag at 2800 F out of the furnace,” he explains. “So the weld- ing of these products is critical, and ultimately impacts how they perform.”
and said, ‘We need to broaden those channels. We need to do a better job of controlling our message and getting it to the end-user.’”
As a result, ACS reorganized into two primary business channels: prod- uct line and engineered product. Prod- uct line includes tools for standard construction activities: site clearing, underground water and sewer devel- opment, road building, and the like. Engineered product focuses on more specialized implements for industries such as aggregate mining and steel- making.
“We had only played in the engi- neered-product market sparingly,” says Zeno, “and we knew that if it was a direction we wanted to take, there were other competitors. If we were going to gain market share, we had to have a better value proposition for our cus- tomers. This proposition was devel- oped to provide more innovative prod- ucts, reduced delivery lead times, and lower costs of acquisition and opera- tion. It became apparent very quickly that the only way to achieve that was through the development and utiliza- tion of robotic technology.”
ACS already had robotic systems to address its product-line segment, but not for engineered product. After con- tacting four robotic-welding-technol- ogy providers, ACS chose Lincoln Elec- tric (Cleveland, OH) as its project partner. The team undertook a six-
month collaborative process of system development and design, leading to the official project launch in late-2013.
Multiple Materials, Multiple Welds
Resulting from the detailed consul- tation and planning was a custom over- head gantry system employing two Fanuc robotic arms. In action, the robotic system welds large buckets, to 22 cubic yards and weighing as much as 28,000 lb., for use in quarries and steel mills.
The entire robotic-welding assembly was mounted in a 5-ft.-deep pit, 40 ft. long by 20 ft. wide and dug into the ACS factory floor to keep the 26-ft.-high
Gantry Robot System
  32 MetalForming/June 2016
With efficiency improving from 60 to 80 percent since employing the custom robotic- welding system, ACS Industries has seen its bucket orders jump, according to company officials.

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