Comau and Fincantieri have introduced MR4Weld, a mobile welding system robot for shipbuilding. The system aims to improve welding quality, performance, and workers’ well-being during labor-intensive welding activities.
Once it’s finished with its current testing, MR4Weld will be used within Fincantieri shipyards to weld steel structures autonomously, providing a possible three-fold increase of productivity compared to manual processes.
MR4Weld features a high-payload, 6-axis articulated robot fitting with a wedding torch that is installed on a tracked undercarriage and equipped with an integrated vision system to autonomously identify welding joints.
“MR4Weld is a project that meets multiple directions of our development: automation and digitization, two driving forces of our business plan as well as the corporate responsibility, which finds an answer in the achievement of five of the UN sustainable development goals, also with reference to safety and training,” Pierroberto Folgiero, CEO of Fincantieri, said. “The partnership with Comau has produced a [unicorn] in our sector, a result of great industrial value which confirms Fincantieri’s commitment to the pursuit of excellence.”
The robot is designed to be able to move in any environment and to collaborate with workers. MR4Weld can be managed by a single operator during its transfer and welding activities. During welding, the system uses digital tools to collect welding and production data that can be used to record the welded joints.
MR4Weld is also in compliance with current safety regulations, so it can be used without fences on each side of the multiple decks that make up a vessel. The companies have jointly filed a European patent application for specific MR4Weld technological features.
In addition to MR4Weld, Comau and Fincantieri announced that the companies have renewed their strategic agreement to apply technology, digitization, and innovation within the cutting-edge, mobile robotic systems that will increase production speed and worker well-being by automating traditionally manual processes.
The companies started their partnership in 2021 when Comau and Fincantieri signed a letter of intent aimed at developing robotized steel welding system prototypes. Going forward, Comau’s CEO Pietro Gorlier and Folgiero foresee the development of additional mobile robotized machines and systems for unstructured environments.
“In addition to the opportunity to work with a leader such as Fincantieri, and explore groundbreaking robotized 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,” Gorlier said. “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.”