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Otokar Armored Vehicle Hull Main Welding Line and Full Penetration Welding Technique

Issue 96

On April 24, 2019, Otokar, one of the leading land systems manufacturers in Turkey, opened the doors of its factory in Arifiye, Sakarya, to members of the press, including Defence Turkey Magazine. Otokar facilities are established on a total area of 560,000 m2, 144,000 m2 of which is a closed area. 

One of the sections we visited in the factory was the Armored Vehicle Hull Main Welding Line. The hull welding operations of ARMA 8x8 Wheeled Armored Combat Vehicles, which are being produced at an intense pace for export, and COBRA II and COBRA I Tactical Wheeled Armored Vehicles, which are produced for four different users, were being carried out on the welding line. 

In fact, according to Otokar officials, steel armor plates/sheets used in the production of armored vehicles supplied from abroad are welded by robots here, and parts of the vehicles which cannot be welded by robotic arms are performed manually by certified welding operators in a separate station. Two different welding methods are applied in the Armored Vehicle Hull Main Welding Line, which are Corner Welding with an Arc Welder and Full Penetration Butt Welding. 

Full penetration armor welding is also used in the production of ALTAY MBT pre-prototypes and prototypes, and it is the preferred welding process for welding thick, high-strength armor steel plates. This welding process is a multi-pass welding method, and a ceramic base is used to protect the weld pool. The welding process is carried out by robots, and Otokar production engineers developed the robot programs used in the system. According to our knowledge, the Full Penetration Welding technique significantly improves the blast protection of the armored vehicle. It is stated that the armored vehicle hulls produced with the Full Penetration Welding technique have a much higher resistance against various types of Mines and IEDs than the vehicles produced with the standard welding technique. However, with the Full Penetration Welding technique, the hull welding process takes 2.5 times longer than the standard welding technique, so the vehicles stay longer in the production line/factory, and therefore, more labor is spent. This process has increased the production costs of armored vehicles produced with this technique. According to Otokar officials, despite this cost increase, Otokar is one of the few companies that prefer the Full Penetration Welding technique to produce more protected vehicles. 

During our visit, there were ARMA 8x8 Armored Combat Vehicles in the Full Penetration Welding Line. In the Armored Vehicle Hull Main Welding Line, 3 robots were allocated for 8x8 production, each performing different operations. Thanks to this welding robot infrastructure, Otokar can produce the vehicle hulls at a very high speed. According to the information we have obtained, it takes approximately 1 month for each 8x8 vehicle to be produced from scratch and become ready for delivery.

The vehicles are rotated in ergonomic and horizontal positions with the help of a positioner to allow the robot arms to weld the hard-to-reach parts in the hulls of the armored vehicles. Thus, the desired penetration in the welds can be easily achieved. All the welding lines are inspected with X-Ray and then sent to the user with zero error.

Otokar's tactical wheeled armored vehicles use high-strength steel plates with different mechanical and chemical properties in different parts of the hull.