Unique robot welding solutions in a job shop business

Hoekman Roestvaststaal is a family business and an innovative job shop operating in the Netherlands. Hoekman produces smart stainless-steel sheet-metal solutions, supplying them as one-offs, or in small and medium series. Hoekman aims to be the efficient and specialised workshop of choice for the production of sheet-metal parts that are essential for the success of their customers’ end product.

In order to provide better welded products for its customers, Hoekman decided to invest in Delfoi ARC offline programming software. The software creates fast and easily accurate, error-free and homogeneous and high-quality welding programs for Hoekman’s needs.

Agililty and innovativeness create value

For a job shop like Hoekman, being agile and innovative are crucial in being competitive. Hoekman offers web portal and a service where customers can get quotations automatically within minutes based on CAD files and other specifications they provide. Normally this type of service is available for cutting and bending works, but Hoekman wanted to aim higher. They wanted to be the first to offer automated quotations for robot welding projects as well.

Picture: Hoekman Roestvaststaal

“Cooperation with Delfoi started three years ago. We were thinking what to do with robot welding in our company, whether to invest in it or do something else. As we are very much a technology driven company we want to automate the front side of the working process as much as possible. We decided to invest in a completely automated program from 3D-model to final product. We saw that Delfoi was the best partner to help us reach this target”, says Gert Hoekman, technical director of Hoekman Roestvaststaal.

Continuous improvement benefit the whole industry

Hoekman is always looking for improvements in technology, automation and production processes. That is why they are part of the Smart Welding Factory project together with eleven other companies and educational institutions. The purpose of this is to improve the efficiency and quality of robot welding small series and one-offs. They do this by automating time-consuming steps and by merging processes. This not only reduces production times, but also cuts the risk of errors. The goal of the Smart Welding Factory project is to program the welding robots completely offline, independent of the brand of the welding robot.  Hoekman aims to do this by assigning the welding data already to a universal 3D CAD file, so that when they change the composition they can easily generate a new welding programme and export it to the robot.

“In many cases the challenge is that you can design nice products but when you try to weld them in real production environment you realize that it is not possible. This causes delays and sometimes big problems. What is so great about Delfoi’s solution is that you can create a digital twin and simulate the production process and test in advance whether welding can be done”, says Gert Hoekman.

Short lead times and accurate information are critical in job shop business

In a job shop business, accurate information is the most critical aspect. Information is needed to quote a price, bid on a job, route an order through the shop, and specify the exact work to be done. Accurate information based on reliable and quick calculations is one of the main benefits Hoekman gets when using Delfoi’s products.

“You can make very accurate calculations for a welding construction and get the data back. This is very important for job shops like us because we have to calculate a lot before we even get the job. Delfoi is the best tool to calculate quickly and accurately”, says Gert Hoekman and continues:

“Shorter lead times on the other hand are by far the most important benefit we get from Delfoi’s products. As an example, when producing a big metal cabin using Delfoi Robotics software, we could reduce the production time from one week to just one day. I’m sure that in the future it will go down to just few hours.”

Great cooperation makes things smooth

Hoekman develops the robot welding process together with its local partner Automise and Delfoi. The cooperation has been developing to a partnership and all three parties share the same ambition to develop something really innovative and sustainable.

“Delfoi’s customer service is excellent. We have good partnership model with our local partner and Delfoi. Delfoi’s respond time is great. They are always willing to hear our problems and help us find ways to make things better”, Gert Hoekman concludes.

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