Fincantieri and Comau launch the new robot for shipbuilding - Corriere.it

Fincantieri and Comau launch the new robot for shipbuilding - Corriere.it


Of Economics editorial staff

Much awaited innovation in the naval field. «A mobile robot, an innovative automation solution for outdoor environments, designed to improve the quality, performance and well-being of operators during labour-intensive welding activities»

It is the first result of the collaboration between Comau and Fincantieri (and will be presented at the Automatica 2023 fair). It is «MR4Weld», a rather obscure code name which stands for «Mobile Robot for Weld», a mobile welding robot. What is it? Much awaited innovation in the naval field. «A mobile robot, an innovative automation solution for outdoor environments, designed to improve the quality, performance and well-being of operators during labour-intensive welding activities».

Collaboration between companies

The companies "also renewed their strategic agreement, to apply technology, digitization and innovation within cutting-edge mobile robotic solutions that will increase production speed and worker well-being by automating traditional manual processes". After signing a letter of intent in 2021 - aimed at the development of robotic prototypes of steel welding solutions and the consequent construction of a series of machines - and after successfully completing the production tests of the prototypes, which are currently underway , the CEO of Comau, Pietro Gorlier, and the CEO of Fincantieri, Pierroberto Folgiero, have signed a new agreement which provides for the development of further mobile robotic machines and solutions for unstructured environments», including those concerning vertical and non-linear surfaces and unstructured environments, as well as the testing of Comau exoskeletons to further improve the ergonomic conditions and the well-being of the operators. Fincantieri will also work with Comau to strengthen and improve the technical skills of its operators in terms of use and programming of mobile robotic systems, adapting dedicated advanced training programs already developed by Comau to operators in the shipbuilding sector.

From ships to large steel infrastructures

The use of automated solutions in highly repetitive and non-high value-added production activities represents one of the pillars of Fincantieri's strategy. Comau will take a further step in the differentiation of its business activities, extending them into new segments, beyond the perimeter of the factory. Both companies will start industrialising their unique MR4Weld robotic solution, which can be applied not only to the shipbuilding industry, but also to industries that require the production of large steel infrastructure, to name just one example. As part of the letter of intent, the two companies will study and evaluate the methods and related agreements to further facilitate the timely development of the identified technological solutions.

Considered as a new paradigm for taking automation beyond the production area, the MR4Weld mobile robot is being tested and will subsequently be used in the Fincantieri shipyards to autonomously weld steel structures, with the possibility of increasing operations up to to 3 times compared to a manual process. This system features a high payload 6-axis articulated robot, equipped with a welding torch installed on a tracked undercarriage and with an integrated vision system to autonomously identify weld joints. And more importantly, it ensures a better weld quality while reducing ergonomic risks. It also helps transform the shipbuilding process, ensuring greater flexibility and higher safety, as well as reducing overall costs. Designed to be able to move in any environment and collaborate with workers, MR4Weld can be easily managed by a single operator during transfer and welding activities. The system also uses digital tools to collect welding and manufacturing data, which can be used to track weld joints. Being MR4Weld fully compliant with current safety regulations, it can be used without fences on each of the multiple floors of which a vessel is composed. Fincantieri and Comau have jointly filed a European patent application for some specific technical characteristics. This state-of-the-art solution can also be seamlessly integrated into Comau's digital infrastructure, further safeguarding the productivity and profitability of the robotic solution.

June 28, 2023 (change June 28, 2023 | 16:09)



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