Skill Tool & Die (Cleveland, OH) set a goal of producing a spare tire bracket more efficiently and with better quality. Achieving this goal required streamlining the job from manual welding to a fully automated welding operation. According to John Kun, vice president of engineering and technology, "The manual process produced inconsistent welds, which resulted in a part that was not visually appealing."

The bracket consists of three individual pieces that are joined together and welded in a multitude of spots. Due to the part's size and required fixturing, a single-point, stationary spot welder would not suffice. Because of the cycle time and space constraints, a robot would not lend itself to this application. Extensive handling labor and cycle time were unacceptable. However, the company wanted guaranteed quality and consistency for each spare bracket.

MIM Industries Inc. (Miamisburg, OH) met the challenge with a dual-station machine that automatically produces all 23 welds. This programmable machine operates in three axis of motion and has multiple weld heads that can be activated anytime during the cycle.

By incorporating dual weld stations with fixtures that move on an X-Y-Z axis, process time was reduced, and only one operator is needed to run the machine. Each station is programmed via the operator interface using a teach method principle of point to point. Additionally, this programming flexibility allows part design changes during the product's life cycle.

The new welding machine incorporates several sensors to ensure that the subcomponents are in the correct position prior to cycle start. It also utilizes a sophisticated interface to control the required motions and weld process. In addition to the high-tech components, the spare tire bracket welder is simple enough for any operator to learn with minimal training.

For more information on welding stations, call MIM Industries Inc. at 937-866-4478