What is the most popular use for robots in the automotive industry?
Robots are widely used throughout the automotive industry, with welding the most popular application. Which is not surprising, given that around half of all manufacturing robots are used for welding bits and pieces together.
Indeed, without robots taking on the dangerous and uncomfortable task of spot welding (which joins the vehicle metal bodies together), the industry would not have advanced so quickly over the last few decades.
Welding robots were first introduced by General Motors in 1967, but it wasn’t until the 1980s until their use became widespread.
The reason for their use comes down to efficiency, cost and safety.
Welding robots are highly efficient. They consistently produce high quality welds which are accurate and error free, and they do them in quick succession and with less down time than traditional methods. In an industry regulatory framework which calls for lighter cars, robot welding machines are able to produce tighter welds than human welders. Modern day vehicle production methods would just not be possible without robot welders.
They also save manufacturers large sums of money. Using robot welders means a manufacturer can almost triple their production and make a huge saving in labour costs. Machines can work without a break (apart from controlled maintenance downtime) seven days a week, 24 hours a day, nor do they want a holiday, or need a cup of tea. And they don’t make mistakes, which can cause a production line to slow. Mindyou, at anywhere between 30 grand and 250 grand a pop, they don’t come cheap, so they have to be good.
Welding is a dirty and dangerous job. Risk of burns, eyesight damage and nauseous fume inhalation are just three of the hazards faced by human welders. There’s also the problem of spending the working day in cramped conditions and working in positions that don’t suit the human skeleton.
In short, the automotive industry would not be where it is today without robots.