Italian partnership spawns mobile robot for shipyard welding
The MR4Weld is designed to autonomously weld steel structures during the vessels’ building stage in Fincantieri shipyards. (Image: Comau)
Together with the automation company Comau, Fincantieri has released a mobile robotic welding solution for shipbuilding.
The Mobile Robot for Welding (MR4Weld) was unveiled by the two Italian companies at the robotics exhibition Automatica in Munich last week. They say the outdoor automation solution is designed to improve quality, performance, and well-being during labour-intensive welding activities.
The MR4Weld marks the first product of Comau and Fincantieri’s partnership, started in 2021. It is designed to autonomously weld steel structures during the vessels’ building stage in Fincantieri shipyards, with a possible three-fold increase in productivity compared to a manual process, the firms claim.
The solution features a high-payload, six-axis articulated robot fitted with a welding torch that’s installed on a tracked undercarriage and equipped with an integrated vision system to autonomously identify welding joints.
Designed to move in various environments and collaborate with workers, MR4Weld can be managed by a single operator during the transfer and welding activities. The system also employs digital tools to collect welding and production data that can be used to record the welded joints.
MR4Weld is in compliance with current safety regulations, the firms say, so it can be used without fences on the multiple decks of a vessel.
“In addition to the opportunity to work with a leader such as Fincantieri, and explore groundbreaking robotised mobile systems for unstructured environments, the extension of our collaboration reflects Comau’s determination to deliver cutting-edge, highly flexible solutions for complex production scenarios,” said Pietro Gorlier, CEO of Comau. “We also believe the significant market potential for the MR4Weld mobile robot extends beyond shipbuilding. Especially given that the mobile robotics market is estimated to see a 5-year CAGR of 15% (2022 to 2027) according to internal estimates and supporting market research”.