Robotic manufacture halves production times for steel prefab bridges

Prefab bridge manufacturer, Mabey, is using robots to build parts of a modular steel bridge.

The Gloucestershire based firm has invested £2.6 million in robotics, halving the manufacturing time for the company’s flagship C200 bridge’s panels and chords.

Prior to the robots, automated welding systems performed several functions in the manufacturing process including making the panels and chords of the C200 bridges, with smaller welds being completed by hand. Panels and raw materials were also manually transported between three separate machines.

In contrast, the robots – which include one that is the first of its kind to be used in the UK for making steel bridges – forms one complete cell to manufacture both chords and panels and remove the intermediary steps.

Employees load the raw materials, at which point the robots take over and manoeuvre the heavier components, weld all sections together and make it ready for drilling.

Michael Treacy, chief executive of Mabey Bridge, said: “The robots reduce manual lifting and handling while ensuring the quality, and consistency of our products – all part of our broader aim to maintain a faster, safer and more efficient way of working.”

Now operational, the robots ensure Mabey’s Lydney factory has the capacity to manufacture up to 2km of steel bridging a month.

Mabey’s Compact 200 system is one of the world’s most widely used modular bridging products. The system uses standard, interchangeable steel components to provide robust, rapidly deployed and erected solutions for permanent bridges, temporary bridges, rural bridges, access bridges, floating bridges, footbridges and emergency and contingency bridging applications.

Justin Cunningham

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