Industrial Robotics Simplifying the Welding Process

Easy teaching system can allow welders to use robotic arms in just an hour.

A good welder is measured by their patience, endurance and accuracy on the job.

But what if a new robotics system could help speed things along while providing the same, if not better accuracy? recently had the opportunity to speak about just that with Zane Michael, director of thermal business development at Yaskawa Motoman.

Michael’s introduction and demonstration of the Robotiq sensor and Kinetiq Teaching system can be viewed in the video above, or read in the Q&A below.

Jim Anderton (JA): Small and medium sized manufacturers with short runs have historically had a difficult time automating welding processes. I understand you have a solution that is open to shops of all sizes?

Zane Michael (ZM):  Correct. Yaskawa Motoman has come out with a product that we call our Kinetiq Teaching system, with our partner Kinetiq, who is stationed in Canada.

The sensor allows the welder to grab the robot and walk it through the path that they want it to take. We’ve taken the laborious method of the teach pendant style out and put the lead-through method in the hands of the welder, to allow them to get into production much faster.

JA: With this method of teaching, arc length is critical for many welding processes to get a consistent, high quality bead. Are you dragging the tip through the entire weld length of the bead?

ZM: No. I can come down and say “here’s the arc-on,” and I can move the robot over here and say, “here is the arc-off.” And I can tell the robot to take a linear path, and it will travel in a linear mode while maintaining the arc length to produce a high quality weld for the customer.

JA: In terms of operator training, how long would it take for an operator to get to know this system and get it productive?

ZM: We still want someone to fully understand the robot programming method. But the average welder would need about an hour of instruction to understand how to put it in the Kinetiq Teaching mode using the Robotiq sensor.

JA: Who do you anticipate will be the primary users of this equipment?

ZM: Our users have been job shops, who may have a short run, like 10 parts with a lot of arc time. They would have long straight welds where they can bring the part up to the robot to use the Kinetiq Teaching system. That’s the primary user of this product.

JA: People who come from a Tier 1 automotive background could use this in a project with pilot runs or for short runs getting ready for large-scale production. Could there be an engineering application for it in product development?

ZM: Yes, in fact I have a customer right now looking at it for a prototype system. They want to put the [Robotiq sensor] on their robot in their lab so they can generate prototypes a lot quicker.

JA: Is it an expensive system?

ZM: The list-price for this system is at $5,500.

To learn more about the Robotiq sensor and Kinetiq Teaching system, visit and

Written by

James Anderton

Jim Anderton is the Director of Content for Mr. Anderton was formerly editor of Canadian Metalworking Magazine and has contributed to a wide range of print and on-line publications, including Design Engineering, Canadian Plastics, Service Station and Garage Management, Autovision, and the National Post. He also brings prior industry experience in quality and part design for a Tier One automotive supplier.