Are robotic welding machines accessible to small shops today? The market has seen significant growth and development over recent years. It’s creating valuable opportunities for small shops to use this cutting-edge technology. Here’s how they can benefit.
The Growing Market for Robotic Welding Machines
Welding robots may be considered expensive equipment only attainable for large shops. However, that’s no longer the case today. The market has grown significantly, bringing more development and investment.
Research shows the global robotic welding market will be worth $6.77 billion by 2029. This growth is increasing the number of robotics developers in the industry. As a result, welding robots are becoming less expensive, bringing them within reach for small shops.
Growth in the robotic welding market has a few benefits for small shops. For example, the demand for used machinery will increase as more places buy these robots. This allows smaller operations to purchase used or refurbished machines at a significantly lower cost.
Additionally, more research and development is making it easier for robotics developers to design and manufacture welding robots. The robots will cost less to produce as this process improves, resulting in wider availability of more budget-oriented models well-suited to smaller shops.
Growth in the robotic welding market is increasing the availability of crucial accessories and repair parts. These aftermarket components are vital for ensuring industrial robot longevity.
For example, there is a growing variety of certified welding cables available today that are compatible with robots. This means small shops are less likely to fall back on cheap, low-quality alternatives like standard battery cables. These have much less flexibility and durability than welding cables, making them poorly suited for the job.
Finally, a larger robotic welding market may increase opportunities for small shops to collaborate with small robotics developers. This can be a perfect pairing since these businesses tend to have tough competition with partners and vendors compared to large companies. These shops may be more willing to test a startup’s new welding robot, creating a beneficial deal for both operations.
Benefits of Welding Robots for Small Shops
Why should small shops consider investing in robotic welding machines? Prices are coming down and these robots are becoming more readily available. They also have tangible operational benefits for smaller operations.
Resolve Staffing Shortages
The American Welding Society estimates a shortage of at least 375,000 welding professionals as of 2023. Various factors contribute to this growing labor shortfall. For instance, fewer teenagers and young adults are pursuing trade school and careers in the skilled trades.
Competition for the small talent pool in the welding industry often means small shops can’t afford to hire enough welders. This makes it increasingly challenging to compete with larger operations since it limits throughput and growth.
Luckily, robotic welding machines can help. They won’t replace all human workers, but they can automate many welds to reduce strain on small teams. For instance, professional welders can work on detailed, high-skill tasks while a robot autonomously performs simpler, high-quantity jobs.
Adopting a welding robot can benefit everyone in a small shop. It allows welders to focus on more engaging tasks and projects. Automation also reduces the stress understaffed teams often experience while keeping up with high production demands. Finally, robotic welding machines reduce staffing needs so companies can get an edge over larger competitors.
Increase Throughput and Productivity
Robotic welding machines are great for improving the quantity of fabricated metal units a small shop can produce. Automation technology will typically result in higher productivity, but these robots bring unique benefits.
For example, robots don’t experience drifting focus or accidents like humans. They can perform the same task for hours without declining performance. Robots are also less likely to make mistakes, resulting in fewer wasted materials due to accidents or incorrect welds.
As a result, small shops can reduce materials costs and create more completed units with less money. A robotic welding machine will also improve overall operational efficiency, which means more completed units in less time.
Lead Industry Innovation
Small shops need something that makes them stand out from larger ones. They can make a name for themselves by leading industry innovation. Adopting welding robots can show potential customers that a business might be little, but it’s also cutting-edge.
Early adopters of new technologies often reap the most benefits of growth. They also get an edge over competitors by building up knowledge and skills more quickly.
Small shops often have more room for flexibility and creativity than larger competitors. As a result, they may be better positioned to try new technologies, including welding robots.
The innovation doesn’t need to stop there, either. Many new technologies are transforming welding and metal fabrication. For example, metal 3D printing automates virtually every task, from hobbyist printing to aerospace manufacturing. Learning from welding robots can help small shops adopt other emerging technologies.
Improve Workplace Safety
Robotic welding machines improve workplace safety and draw more professionals to small shops. Welders face significant risks on the job, from burns to illnesses due to toxic gas exposure.
Welding fumes and gases may contain toxins and carcinogens that can cause respiratory illness, kidney damage, lung disease, lung cancer and more. Unfortunately, small shops may be at higher risk of exposure to these risks since welders often have smaller workspaces than larger operations.
Welding robots can improve workplace safety in a few ways. For example, automation boosts efficiency, allowing employees to take breaks and get fresh air. They can also reduce the number of repetitive welds employees need to perform, lowering the risk of physical injury.
Robotic welding machines can take over many high-volume tasks and be isolated in their own sealed-off section of a shop. This means fewer workstations, resulting in less exposure to fumes.
Adopting Robotic Welding Machines
Small shops have much to gain from robotic welding machines, ranging from higher throughput to an improved employee experience. Growth and development in this industry are making the technology much more accessible than in previous years. Adopting it allows smaller operations to gain an invaluable competitive edge and lead industry innovation.
Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized Magazine, an online publication that explores innovations in science and technology.