Youngman uses robots instead of outsourcing production to China

ABB is helping the Youngman Group achieve flexible production and improved productivity, thanks to £2.5 million investment in state-of-the-art automation.

Youngman Group, which is a leading manufacturer of access towers, staging, trestles and ladders, has invested £2.5million in new automation including two fully-automated welding cells based around ABB IRB 1600 robots. This is enabling the company to compete against imports from lower-cost economies, while increasing production flexibility and reducing stockholding.

The investment was agreed following a management buy-out in 2005 when it became clear that investment in the UK operation made more sense than continuing to outsource manufacturing to China. There had been little investment in the Youngman business leading up to the buy-out, so all of the main production processes were manual, including cutting, cropping and welding aluminium tubes, while the manufacturing volume flexibility was only achieved by increasing the use of temporary skilled labour.

Speaking about the initial concerns raised by the new management team, Paul Bentley, the managing director of the Youngman Group explains: "We recognised that we needed to invest in the future of the company, as it was clear costs were continuing to rise and the company was facing cheaper competition from European and Chinese manufacturers. The other major concern was that in the face of a slowdown in the traditionally cyclical construction market, the company would be slow in reducing costs and then slow to recover if labour had to be recruited and trained in skilled welding roles. Due to this, the decision was made to move towards robotic welding."

Turnkey project

The company's production engineers quickly identified laser cutting and robotic welding as the optimum areas for improvement, so they approached ABB with a view to ABB providing a turnkey project. The first step was for ABB to establish the design requirement over seven different frame designs and five different frame lengths, and then to create an automation concept that would provide Youngmans with the flexibility and ease of production required.

ABB proposed two fully automated welding cells. In each cell, an IRB 1600 robot (ABB's compact 'bending backwards' robot), is mounted on a servo-driven track to increase the working area of the cell. The track motion system is designed to ensure reliable and effective utilisation of a robot's capability and greatly extend its working area, thereby enabling one robot to reach long workpieces. With the positioning of the welding torch being critical to the joint required, the track motion system successfully ensures the accuracy of the robot while maintaining the speed of production.

One of the most important elements of the Youngman Group's investment was the development of the Cold Metal Transfer (CMT) welding process to match the finished product requirements. This process uses a controllable aluminium weld pool in all positions to allow precise control of the heat input to produce high-quality welds with minimum product distortion and an improved appearance.

Speaking about the development of the CMT welding process, Steve Bartholomew, the account manager for ABB robotics comments: "The development of the CMT welding process called on our most experienced welding engineers to develop a complete right-first-time solution, which was created in combination with ABB's RobotStudio simulation software. The results speak for themselves, with Youngman experiencing a dramatic increase in flexible production, enabling the business to meet even the most challenging production demands."

Clever control

Finally, ABB's fifth-generation IRC5 robot controller is used to enable the robot, track and welding equipment to work together seamlessly, providing instant responses to changes in welding parameters, travel speed and robot positions. Each 80mm weld path has an average of eight positions, with individual weld data, robot and track positions.

Bartholomew adds: "We programmed the welding cells to operate around the clock, six days a week, and are pleased to note the investment has already begun to significantly improve production efficiency. Youngman were at an advantage at the outset. The choice to look forward and invest in automated technology was made ahead of the economic downturn, enabling the business, which was already performing well, to present a strong case for investment."

Paul Bentley adds: "With no corporate hierarchy to hinder approval of the investment and a supportive union, it was unanimously accepted that the investment would help to secure the future of Youngman employees with the added benefit of enabling the business to compete globally. The welding cells operate around the clock, six days a week, and we have already noted significant improvements. The next step is to continue looking at further investment in robotic manufacturing equipment. We are committed to our vision of growing the company in a very competitive global market which we believe can be achieved by a continued investment in state of the art manufacturing capabilities."

For further information about the potential benefits of integrating robots into production processes, go to www.abb.co.uk/robotics.

ABB Robotics Division

Auriga House, Precedent Drive
Rooksley
Milton Keynes
MK13 8PQ
UNITED KINGDOM

+44 (0)1908 350300

contact.centre@gb.abb.com

www.abb.com/robotics

More from ABB Robotics Division

ABB launches condition-based maintenance service for robots

Posted 19 hours ago

ABB industrial robots get Wizard programming

Posted 1 week ago

ABB buys Codian Robotics

Posted 3 months ago

ABB recycling and remanufacturing thousands of old robots

Posted 6 months ago

YuMi - ABB's collaborative robot celebrates 5th birthday

Posted 7 months ago

Digital tools help manufacturers restart production

Posted 7 months ago

Control SCARA robots from a PC with ABB RobotStudio

Posted 8 months ago

How switching to robots transforms your competitiveness

Posted 1 year ago

ABB Robotics announces robot training courses

Posted 1 year ago

How investing in robots can help transform performance: seminar

Posted 1 year ago

New ceiling-mounted SCARA robot for fast assembly

Posted 2 years ago

ABB Robotics seminar, workshop: how robots transform performance

Posted 2 years ago

ABB's YuMi cobot serves coffee at Selfridges

Posted 2 years ago

Exploring the opportunities offered by virtual commissioning

Posted 2 years ago

ABB enhances interaction with sentient robot at Design Museum

Posted 3 years ago

ABB announces details of Food and Beverage day in Texas

Posted 3 years ago

Seminar: improving your productivity with robots

Posted 3 years ago

ABB's YuMi robot wins prestigious robotics industry award

Posted 4 years ago

Two-year ROI forecast on robot installation at CED Thurrock

Posted 4 years ago

ABB to showcase robotic innovations at MACH 2016

Posted 4 years ago

The IRB 8700 is ABB's largest ever robot

Posted 4 years ago

ABB Robotics UK to co-host stand at PPMA 2015 with RM Group

Posted 5 years ago

ABB acquires Gomtec to expand collaborative robotics portfolio

Posted 5 years ago

ABB's YuMi collaborative robot has the ability to feel and see

Posted 6 years ago

Applying robotic automation to low-volume processes

Posted 6 years ago

Integrated welding cell from ABB cuts production time

Posted 6 years ago

Survey reveals reluctance to invest in robotic automation

Posted 6 years ago

Online calculator demonstrates scope for savings with ABB robots

Posted 6 years ago

Fast and flexible medium-size parts transfer system

Posted 6 years ago

Swappage scheme encourages use of latest robotic automation

Posted 7 years ago

ABB delivers car body framing for today's flexible needs

Posted 7 years ago

ABB releases upgrade to best-selling IRB 1600 robot

Posted 7 years ago

ABB wins order for 2400 gluing and spot welding robots from BMW

Posted 7 years ago

ABB signs Mike Wilson to its robotics team

Posted 8 years ago

ABB industrial robot for automated luggage storage and retrieval

Posted 8 years ago

ABB passes out its two newest robotics apprentices

Posted 8 years ago

Robotic Maintenance and 24/7 Response service

Posted 8 years ago

PalletPack 460 for fast, flexible and cost-effective palletising

Posted 8 years ago

Witter Towbars installs ten ABB robotic welding cells

Posted 8 years ago

Free, no-obligation robotic automation appraisals

Posted 8 years ago

See ABB robots in action at MACH 2012

Posted 8 years ago

Aston Martin improves painting performance with ABB robots

Posted 8 years ago

Award recognises robots' return on investment

Posted 10 years ago

Robotics in the food and drink industries - free event

Posted 10 years ago

See the Fanta Can Challenge - live at MACH 2010

Posted 10 years ago

Food Technology Seminar to focus on robotics

Posted 12 years ago

ABB to demonstrate flexible robotic technology at MACH

Posted 12 years ago

Astech Projects joins ABB's Robotic Partner Network

Posted 12 years ago

Vision-guided robot picks and places sliced meat

Posted 12 years ago

Robots pick-and-place cheese to streamline production

Posted 12 years ago

Knight Warner becomes ABB robotics partner

Posted 12 years ago

Software for robotic grinding and finishing of castings

Posted 12 years ago

Kern to apply ABB robots to mailroom and packaging systems

Posted 12 years ago

Robot cell is competitive against Far East manufacture

Posted 12 years ago

Why UK manufacturers must embrace a robotic future

Posted 12 years ago

How to save energy by using industrial robots

Posted 12 years ago

Agile machine-tending robots offer a choice of mountings

Posted 13 years ago

ABB Robotics to host two-day global packaging forum

Posted 13 years ago

Robots automate filling of drums with enzymes

Posted 13 years ago

FlexPicker robots help revolutionise mosaic industry

Posted 13 years ago

ABB Robotics strengthens Partner Network

Posted 13 years ago

Investing in robots costs less than expected

Posted 14 years ago

Panel-mounting controllers for multiple robots

Posted 14 years ago

Robot cell boosts efficiency of complex grinding operation

Posted 14 years ago

CCFRA presentation: 'Robots in Food - Feeding the need'

Posted 14 years ago

ABB Robotics to show PickMaster 5 software at PackExpo 2006

Posted 14 years ago

Backwards-bending six-axis robot has 3.9m reach

Posted 14 years ago

More applications
16 hours ago
Boxing clever
A new chainflex cable box means big shipping cost savings for customers
19 hours ago
New industrial vision online channel sees the light of day
Industrial vision provider IDS is making its expertise as a manufacturer of digital industrial cameras available free of charge and readily accessible on a new platform
19 hours ago
Ball screws help protect buildings from earthquakes
Ball screws from NSK are helping to protect structures and people in earthquake zones
19 hours ago
ATEX certification for new pneumatic valve island
Pneumatic process control offers numerous benefits, especially in hygienic applications. Bürkert says that its new Type 8652 AirLINE valve island provides users with improved safety features, communications and diagnostics
19 hours ago
What the UK-EU trade deal means for UK vehicle manufacturers
Now the UK has left the EU, the transition period has ended and the two parties have established a new trading relationship, UK-based vehicle manufacturers have some clarity over what they need to do to serve three key markets: Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales), the EU and Northern Ireland
19 hours ago
Farnell publishes Industry 4.0 ebook
New ‘Industry 4.0 Interviews’ ebook is available for free download from Farnell and showcases the opinions of leading global experts on the future of IIoT and Industry 4.0
19 hours ago
Can DC motors be used at high temperatures?
There is no need for a heated discussion about it as maxon’s motor expert Andrew Gibson offers a view on the subject
1 day ago
Switching up a gear
Phoenix Contact is expanding its line of unmanaged switches
1 day ago
New Intertronics metering, mixing and dispensing system
Adhesives supplier Intertronics has introduced a new 2-K-DOS metering, mixing and dispensing system, said to be a compact, benchtop unit suitable for materials including silicones, polyurethanes and epoxies
1 day ago
Freshly updated online cabinet and access panel locking resource
The EMKA website now features updated guidance on new locking solutions for switch and control cabinets