Teaching Robots How To Weld For The Ship Building Industry

These researchers are teaching industrial robots how to weld in an effort to replace dangerous human jobs in the shipbuilding industry.

Guest Post by TU Delft TV 

For the shipbuilding industry, two problems are becoming increasingly serious. One is the high cost of labour and the other is the hazardous work environment in shipyards. As an old-fashioned labour-intensive industry, shipbuilding is unattractive to young people and as the experienced workers getting older, the cost of labour keeps increasing in recent years.

The other, both the noise and bad air quality are detrimental to a workers’ health and each year workers are killed or injured in shipyards. It is believed that the robotic technology is a solution to these problems and may shape the shipbuilding industry into a technology-intensive industry. As a typical representative of advanced manufacturing technology, industrial robots have played a significant role in stabilizing the product quality, increasing productivity and enhancing competitiveness.

Approximately 40% of industrial robots are welding robots and shipbuilding industry tried to use welding robots in the 1980s, some of the advanced shipbuilding countries such as Europe, Japan, South Korea and the US have made a great progress in applying welding robot in shipbuilding.

However, compared to other industries like car manufacturing, the shipbuilding industry has been left behind, shipyards still need a lot of welders to do the welding nowadays. Welding technology is always an important and even a key technology to ship production. Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering Researcher’s Ronald Ensing and Jethro Tan aim to change this with their work.

Find out more about their research here.

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