Intuitive Operation and Programming of Welding Robots for Large-scale Components (Project INTAS)

Industrial robots are firmly established in industrial production. Particularly in the automotive industry, this automation technology is frequently used in various manufacturing processes along the production chain due to its speed and accuracy. Normally, industrial robots are used in large-scale production to carry out repetitive tasks, e.g. welding car body assemblies.

In small batch or single-part production, on the other hand, as is the case in medium-sized companies, the use of robots often does not pay off.

© Fraunhofer IFF

Automation with Industrial Robots in Medium-sized Companies

Programming or teaching a robot is complicated and requires special expertise on the part of operators. During teaching, a programmer moves the robot to the desired positions for each individual work step using a control console. All position values are recorded and stored. In this way, the robot’s work program for a specific production task is created step by step. Whenever the production orders change, the robot’s programming must also be constantly adapted, which has so far hindered the effective use of robots in small and medium-sized companies.

With simpler robot teaching and straightforward commissioning without programming knowledge, industrial robots beyond large-scale production in a changeable production environment are also becoming an option for SMEs.

© Fraunhofer IFF

Robot Programming for Non-Experts

A development team from the Fraunhofer IFF and ATA Anlagentechnik Aschersleben is developing and testing intuitive methods for robot programming and robot path planning for machining processes with industrial robots in the INTAS project. The project team is also working on new control concepts for online process monitoring for automated multilayer welding.

For this purpose, the Fraunhofer IFF's robotics experts have developed an input tool that uses an integrated laser to position the tool. This enables operators to easily define the start and end points of the welding torch without contact. In the background, a simulation determines the welding path coordinates from the recorded data and monitors them for collision points.

The project’s goal is to create an industrial robot for non-experts that is easy to handle and program even without extensive programming knowledge, and that can flexibly process large components with variable geometries.

Use Case: Intuitive Programming of a Welding Robot

In a use case, the new operating concept is integrated into a welding robot at the ATA Anlagentechnik Aschersleben. The welding robot automates previously manual welding work on heavy and very heavy components for large-scale plant construction and relieves the welders of monotonous and ergonomically stressful tasks.

Expected project results in INTAS

  • User-friendly industrial robot for flexible processing of large components with variable geometries
  • Input device for intuitive robot programming without extensive programming knowledge
  • Process monitoring algorithms and routines

Project Info

Project title

»INTAS: Intuitive assistant robot for machining large components «


programming robots, teaching robots, industrial robot, welding robot

Project duration

03.2020 until 07.2022

Project partner

  • ATA Anlagentechnik Aschersleben GmbH


The project is funded by the State of Saxony-Anhalt and the European Commission promoted by the Investment Bank of Saxony-Anhalt (Funding code: ZWB 2004/00023)