The first welding robot station for low batch production

Our background

The background of Andon Robotics is unique on the global market, and goes far beyond the time when Andon was established. Andon represents a robot welding technology which started in the ESAB Group 1974, when the first fully electrical welding robot was delivered to a Swedish customer. The business was developed inside ESAB until Jan., 1993 when all the robot assets were acquired by ABB and integrated into their market offer. In ESAB and ABB – both world leading companies – the arc welding robot activities were divided in product and system units. The system part was broken out from ABB 2004 and Andon was established, continuing the same activities as inside ESAB and ABB – The businesses goes on and on – ANDON.

Major milestones during more than 30 years of robotic welding are shortly described below.

ESAB 1974 – 1992

During the first years the market was characterized by a resistance against the new technology regarded as a threat against manual operations. Slowly the understanding for the competiveness through robot welding increased, and investments started to take off.

1976 we created the dual station concept, where the robot and the operator co-operate in order to obtain high utilization. Today this concept is a norm out on the market.

Already 1978, the first overhead mounted robot system was built. Five travelling gantries with 10 robots were supplied to a producer of heat carpets for the boiler industry to a customer in The UK.

In the early 80´s we developed free programmable workpiece positioners followed by a “through the arc” seam tracking device and in 1984 the first Flexible Welding System for low batch production (picture above). Second half of this decade ESAB supplied systems based upon offline programming and together with AGA we developed the rapid processing method for increased deposition rates.

A major breakthrough in production philosophy took place 1992 when we delivered the first system for one piece production. The system was for welding of elevator sub components to an Austrian customer. The robot programs were automatically generated and components were produced Just In Time, directly against customer orders.

ABB 1993 – 2003

The advantages with robot welding technology were accepted by the market and thousands of robots were delivered every year. Many suppliers were now active and the market conditions changed from sellers to buyers market. Nevertheless, the merger of ESAB robot activities into ABB Robotic operations gave us a competitive edge and we continued to develop new concepts.

In 1994, when the fourth generation of ABB robot controllers was released, we delivered a multi robot system for welding of superstructures to a German shipyard. Since then a number of huge travelling gantries have been supplied.

RobotStudio, ABB´s software tool for model based simulations and offline generated programming, was developed, resulting in that new industry segments could be approached. RobotStudio minimizes project exposure and system down time when introducing new products.

Our flexible welding systems were introduced to multiple customers in the offroad and industrial vehicle segments for production of sub components direct against assembly line and customer order.

ANDON 2004 –

From Jan. 01, 2004 Andon operates in own regime after a management buyout of the system activities from ABB, Sweden. Based upon our background we have an extensive experience in the arc welding process and robot systems adapted to each customer need. Our strong focus is on complete systems for robotized low batch production.