Drake Trailers of Australia have worked with Machinery, Automation and Robotics (MAR), and ABB, to automate the arc welding of transportation equipment. They are one of Australia’s largest manufacturers of low-loader and specialist large scale trailers. General Manager, Greg Allison, says “We took the decision in early 2006 that we needed to upskill our existing workforce and add to it — either that or we were going to be swamped by imports. We took a long time to consider the best configuration for automating certain aspects of the production, and the ABB robot was easily the best option. It gives us speed, so we can compete on price because our unit costs come down, but it also really improves our quality at the same time. Not only do we get something quicker but we get a better finish and we get repeatability.”
When you introduce robotics into a workplace, an assumption is sometimes made that it will cost jobs. Yet Allison believes exactly the opposite.
“The staff who still weld by hand see that we’re spending money to stay in Australia because it will help us remain competitive,” Allison says. “And it’s challenged them to be as good, if not better, than the robot in the quality of what they’re doing.”
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