Ready for future waves: GONDAN Shipbuilders adds capacity with robotic welding
A Spanish shipyard, GONDAN Shipbuilders, invested in a compact robot welding solution to ensure its future productivity and competitiveness. With the new investment, the company is looking to produce more high-quality products and minimize deformations.
GONDAN Shipbuilders (Astilleros Gondán), located in Asturias in the North of Spain, has over a 90-year-long experience in vessel manufacturing. The company is known for its accomplishments in shipbuilding, such as pioneering in manufacturing environmentally friendly vessels, but also vessels for very deep waters.
Currently, the shipyard employs 450 people at three of its manufacturing facilities, all located by the coast of the Cantabrian Sea. In late November 2020, GONDAN took a step towards automated welding and placed an order for a compact robot welding solution, PEMA VRWP-C.
“Just recently we have invested in facilities and machinery. Our goal is to streamline our production and further grow our operations”, tells César Mateo Oró, Production Manager at GONDAN Shipbuilders.
As a family company and with three generations of shipbuilders, the shipyard values high quality, modern technology, and loyal partnerships with customers and partners. Most of the production is exported to the Nordic markets, such as Sweden and Norway.
“GONDAN is recognized by its ability to build any type of boat, without technological limits, while having the flexibility to incorporate improvements during the building process to meet the needs of the shipowner and meeting the strictest quality standards”, describes Mateo Oró.
Change in the work landscape
Around 3000 tons of steel runs through the GONDAN facilities yearly. The steel is used to manufacture vessels, such as Service Operation Vessels, Oceanographic Research vessels, Tugboats, Patrol boats, and Fishing vessels, which all are built at GONDAN’s sites.
“Most of our projects are tailor-made according to our customer’s needs, thus we have very little series production. Naturally, this sets criteria also for the manufacturing machinery and methods”, tells Mateo Oró.
According to Mateo Oró, in today’s competitive shipbuilding environment, we should take advantage of production automation solutions to maintain and accelerate productivity and competitiveness.
In addition to secure continuing and stable manufacturing, one of the reasons for GONDAN’s new investment was also to increase manufacturing capacity.
“Before our production has been based on manual welding. Now, with the PEMA VRWP-C compact robot solution we can take, not only our productivity to a new level, but also adopt new and modern processes as part of our production methods.”
Compact solution for shipbuilding
PEMA VRWP-C is a vision-based robot solution designed to automatize micro panel welding but can be also used for other small-to-medium-sized constructions. The system is based on PEMA WeldControl 200, which enables easy weld path creation and robot programming.
“We wanted to enter a new way of working and guarantee that the automation solution is capable of meeting our requirements. The PEMA robot solution was the only technology that was able to weld completely everything that we wanted”, tells Mateo Oró.
The station is described as “compact” not only because of its size but also because everything is delivered as a standard package. Thanks to this, the solution can be easily placed in almost any type of workshop. Additionally, commissioning and ramp-up can be completed efficiently in a very short time.
“At this point, our top priority is to find the correct parameters and train our people properly to guarantee a smooth start of the production. Once the solution is up and running, we expect to produce more high-quality products in a shorter time. Additionally, another goal is to minimize all possible deformations”, says Mateo Oró.
Trust & communication
As for many, the year with COVID-19 changed typical business operations and protocols, such as communication tools and processes. What usually would have been completed face-to-face, were now done virtually, such as the Final Acceptance Test (FAT).
Despite the unexpected circumstances, Mateo Oró says thanks to Pemamek’s team and how from the start, the collaboration has had a good flow, despite the occasional geographic distances due to the pandemic.
“We feel that it has been easy to trust the collaboration. Throughout the project, we have had efficient and open communication with Pemamek’s team. Even though we tightened the schedule at one point, Pemamek was able to adapt and meet the new time requirements. We’re on track with the schedule and looking forward to starting a full production with the PEMA welding automation solution”, summarizes Mateo Oró.