The Finnish transportation equipment manufacturer VAK has invested in PEMA robotic welding solutions. Amongst other benefits, the company’s production has become significantly more efficient.
VAK Oy is a Finnish family-owned business and specializes in providing transport equipment solutions for the Northern European highways. Located in the Southwest of Finland, the company employs over 500 people and has a subsidiary in Sweden. As a growing and future-oriented company, VAK constantly fine-tunes its operation methods and processes.
“In our operations, the guiding factor is high-quality products. In addition to the quality of products, we also focus on developing the quality of operations and procurements,” describes VAK’s Sales director and Board member, Matti Virtanen.
As one of the main manufacturers of transportation equipment for the Nordic countries, VAK provides a wide selection of heavy-duty structures for the industry.
“We design and manufacture structures, such as trailers, cargo compartments, and demountable bodies for the transportation industry,” describes Virtanen.
VAK acquired PEMA robotic welding station to boost trailer frame welding. The station, with PEMA WeldControl 300 OFFLINE, has made the production significantly more efficient.
From manual welding to robotized
For VAK, one of the biggest product groups is trailer frames. The yearly volume is around 500. The size of one frame can be as much as 17,5 meters long and 2,5 meters wide.
A few years ago, the assembly welding of the trailed frames was done completely manually. As the incoming orders started to gradually grow and advanced manufacturing technologies to evolve, VAK decided that it was time to invest in a better capacity and more efficient production flow.
As a programming method, the station uses PEMA WeldControl 300 OFFLINE software.
“The assembly welding was before done manually and this was one of the phases that we saw an opportunity for optimization.” Virtanen continues, “The main reasons why we started to consider automatized robotic welding was to improve process efficiency and above all to invest in our future capacity,” comments Virtanen.
To optimize the assembly welding of trailer frames, VAK ordered a comprehensive PEMA robotic welding station. The robotic welding station included XYZ- gantry, one welding robot, and two headstock positioners with two manually adjustable supporting units. As a programming method, the station uses PEMA WeldControl 300 OFFLINE software.
“The production goals that we set for the robotic welding station, have been accomplished and our production is now significantly more efficient. The station has brought several benefits to us.”
Benefits throughout the process
The station was delivered in 2018 and ever since VAK has been able to enjoy the benefits from robotic welding.
“The production goals that we set for the robotic welding station, have been accomplished and our production is now significantly more efficient. The station has brought several benefits to us,” said Virtanen.
In addition to improved welding efficiency, the benefits are visible in other production phases as well. After implementing welding automation, VAK has gotten a better understanding of their trailer frame production and increase predictability.
“Throughput, planning, and scheduling of our production are working now a lot better. Automated welding requires the designing to pay more attention to details, so our 3D models have also improved. Additionally, we’ve been able to develop our product modularity,” lists Virtanen.
Thanks to the robotic welding station, the factory layout has improved as well. Virtanen comments, “The existing square meters in the factory were optimized at the same time and now all the space is in better use.”
Key to a successful start-up
At VAK, the ramp-up and adaptation phases went well and production was started efficiently. Some of the main factors for a good implementation Virtanen mentions early and all-rounded training.
“If the personnel is well trained for the new methodologies, the ramp-up time is significantly faster. Together with Pemamek’s support, our motivated and fast-learning production team was able to pick up the new welding technologies quickly,” says Virtanen.
With positive experiences as a foundation, the company does see the role of welding automation to grow and at some point is ready to harness further automation in its production.
“We are very happy with our collaboration with Pemamek. It was easy to reach Pemamek and the team actively and genuinely wanted to help us. Automation does bring benefits and we think that in the future we will also acquire more when time is right,” summarizes Virtanen.