Note: This article first appeared in BIC Magazine
In industry, a growing trend is the idea to use orbital welding as a solution to the mounting problem of welder shortages. It is a well-known fact there are just not enough pipeline welders to go around (no pun intended). By 2020, the American Welding Society expects the U.S. will face a shortage of 290,000 welders. Companies in other business sectors — from food service companies to banks — attempt to solve labor issues and increase efficiencies by utilizing automation to replace workers. Is automation, specifically orbital welding in this case, the way to improve operating factors and productivity?
The first part of improving welding operations is not to look at the welding process but instead examine its upstream aspect at material input. Material fit-up is the first key to improving quality and productivity. Poor fit-up causes overwelding and often leads to weld quality issues. A fillet weld that requires a quarter-inch weld has an unintentional root opening or misalignment of 1/16 inches. It then requires a 5/16-inch weld, which in turn increases weld joint volume by 57 percent. This result means 57-percent more wire, 57-percent more gas, 57-percent more use of consumables and — the most costly issue — 57-percent more time to weld that joint.
Let’s say that same 5/16-inch weld is then welded within tolerances, but the weld size is overwelded by 1/16 inch. That 5/16-inch weld then becomes a 3/8-inch one due to the compounding factors of material fit-up and a very common practice of overwelding. This weld that could have been done to code and adheres to a welding procedure is now 100-per-cent more costly then intended.
Are you buying double the gas and wire you need? Eighty-percent of most welding operating expenses are in labor. What are you paying to have someone weld 100-percent more than what is needed?
What is paramount is we can create precision fit-up and limit overwelding with the use of end-prep and orbital welding. Regardless of welder skill or the type of welding equipment, starting a weld with poor fit-up will result in a weld that costs more to produce. The conversation about quality, productivity and efficiency should not start at orbital welding or about your welder’s skills but should instead begin at end-prep. End-prep equipment, simple to operate and often overlooked because of its necessity, offers machine shop-like precision and fit-up while in the field. With the unfortunate skill gap widening in the trades, it is imperative to start your pipe or tube welding with precise fit-up, as those who can make passable welds become fewer and fewer.
We aren’t replacing welders with automation; we are making them more efficient. The goal is to take the welder you have and select the proper end-prep and orbital welding process for your job so you can possibly create twice as much time for him or her and improve quality along the way.
In order to meet the rising challenge of the lack of qualified welders, we need owners and management as well as welders to come together to increase quality and productivity. Management needs to provide welders with good material and proper equipment to work with, and the welder needs to realize we aren’t attempting to take his or her job but instead attempting to give him or her the best tools to get the best result.
When you look for a company to fulfill your business’ welding needs, you should search out a supplier that offers more than just equipment. Find a supplier that offers not just a few options of welders but solutions.
For more information, visit www.red-d-arc.com, call (866) 733-3272 or email Brian Imhulse at Brian.Imhulse@airgas.com.
A Red-D-Arc customer based out of the UK was awarded three large offshore wind farm projects …all commencing simultaneously. This manufacturer was comfortable taking on so many large scale, specialized projects because they have a reliable, knowledgeable, tier 1 supplier capable of meeting all of their welding and weld automation equipment needs! Red-D-Arc was able to quickly accommodate all of the welding equipment requirements for the project, providing more than 150 welders and a variety of weld automation equipment. The equipment consisted of multi-operator welding paks, diesel welders, advanced power sources, wire feeders, submerged arc welding packages, and rotators.
Two Red-D-Arc technicians were assigned to the facility to install, service and maintain the equipment to minimize downtime. The facility allocated a permanent workshop and storage container for back-up equipment which could be used to quickly replace any equipment as necessary. With Red-D-Arc’s support, the customer was able to work on all three projects simultaneously and avoid lost time due to equipment breakdowns.
An oilfield equipment and vessel manufacturer in the United Arab Emirates approached Red-D-Arc for assistance with a large project. It was awarded to them at the last minute and was not their primary area of expertise. The requirement was to manufacture 25 large tanks with a timeframe of only one year. Each of the tanks was to be 5 meters in diameter by 25 meters long, manufactured using 16 millimeter thick material at a weight of approximately 45 tonnes.
The experienced Red-D-Arc Weld Automation team was able to immediately address all of the customer’s challenges. While other suppliers where insistent that the customer purchase the equipment, Red-D-Arc determined that long term rental would be their best option. This would avoid the time consuming process of acquiring CAPEX approval to purchase such a large amount of equipment and would further increase the profitability of the project. The manufacturer also had questions on how to avoid ovality and transverse movement of the sub-assemblies. Red-D-Arc experts were on-hand to provide the right advice and the right equipment to address these challenges.
The rental equipment included:
• 6x 10 tonne rotator sets
• 10x 60 tonne drive rolls
• 47x 30 tonne and 60 tonne idler rolls
• 7x submerged arc packages with LT7 tractors and D600 power sources
Red-D-Arc worked very closely with the company to ensure their success, providing comprehensive training and on-site assistance. After the successful completion of this project the company has become recognized in their market and are receiving new orders from similar customers in the industry. Furthermore, they anticipate being awarded “phase 2” of this project which is scheduled to begin in 2018.
Red-D-Arc recently supplied a variety of equipment to a UAE based company that is fabricating pile piping and jackets for the largest offshore wind farm project in the world. The company had to meet a strict time line of only 6 months, and would require a massive amount of welding and weld automation equipment immediately. Through consultation with Red-D-Arc, the customer determined that renting the majority of the equipment would be the most economical option. Red-D-Arc was able to fulfil the customers equipment needs immediately thanks to our vast and diverse fleet of equipment.
This massive order involved equipment and support from Red-D-Arc North America, Red-D-Arc UK and Red-D-Arc Middle East. The order consisted of a variety of welding and weld automation equipment including:
• 23 column and booms with single and tandem submerged arc welders
• 20 submerged arc tractors
• 200 rotators
• 167 jack-up rotators
• 400 CC/CV inverter welders
• 200 FCAW wirefeeders
• 10 Induction Heating Systems
By renting the majority of the equipment the fabrication company avoided the need to invest heavily in specialized equipment and ensured they would meet their deadline. Red-D-Arc works with customers to address their unique challenges and develops specialized solutions. Learn more about customized turnkey packages here.
Red-D-Arc Welderentals has acquired the assets and operations of eKipro Rentals and Grupo Industrial Daymaga, known collectively as “eKipro”. Headquartered in Villahermosa, Tabasco in Mexico, eKipro is a specialty equipment rental and services company.
eKipro’s five locations in Poza Rica, Veracruz; Tampico, Tamaulipas; Salamanca, Guanajuato; Hermosillo, Sonora; and Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche and more than 100 associates joined Red-D-Arc, effective May 1, 2015.
“The acquisition of eKipro will increase Red-D-Arc’s presence in Mexico and strengthen our position in this important area, particularly within Mexico’s energy sector,” said Mitch Imielinski, President of Red-D-Arc Welderentals. “We’re very pleased to welcome our new associates and customers to the Airgas family and look forward to continuing to offer excellent service and an expansive range of products.”
Research and Markets, a leading market research firm, has released a research report titled Global Welding Equipment Market 2015-2019. The report highlights the growing need for the automation of welding processes. An analyst involved in creating the report commented: “One key trend upcoming in the market is the automation of the welding equipment. There has been a continuous shift from manual to automatic welding in the welding industry in recent years. The need to automate manufacturing processes is one of the major requirements of the Global Welding Equipment market.”
As a leading supplier of weld automation equipment Red-D-Arc is ready to meet the ever evolving needs of the welding industry. We are your one stop shop for sales, lease and rental of welding positioners, manipulators, turning rolls and other weld automation products, available through our global distribution network. We also design and build complete turnkey weld automation packages which can include integrated controls – such as digital touch-screen interfaces and camera systems – for your complete project requirements. Our team of engineers will provide you with weld process recommendations and set up all your equipment for optimized reliability, functionality and productivity.
Learn more about Red-D-Arc Weld Automation products and services.
For more information on the Global Welding Equipment Market 2015-2019 report visit the Research and Markets website.
Red-D-Arc is pleased to announce the opening of its first rental center in Germany, located at Asbeckstraβe 19, 45883 Gelsenkirchen. The full service location offers a complete line of rental welders, welding-related specialty products, welding positioners, manipulators, turning rolls, and other weld automation products. In addition to offering Red-D-Arc’s standard line of weld automation products which are available for sale and lease, Red-D-Arc’s associates can provide full-service design and fabrication of turn-key weld automation packages that can be tailored to specific customer needs. “Our new location in Gelsenkirchen will enable us to provide our growing German customer base — including Germany’s thriving metal fabrication and manufacturing markets — with enhanced service and product offerings,” said Mitch Imielinski, President of Red-D-Arc Welderentals. The new facility expands Red-D-Arc’s international presence to nine total countries, including the U.S., Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, and the United Arab Emirates.