The construction industry is responsible for the creation of all kinds of structures with varying sizes, levels of complexity, and uses. From simple, small structures such as family homes to large, complex ones like bridges, dams, and manufacturing plants. Structural integrity and durability are the most important considerations in this industry. This is why the construction industry employs a very large quantity of metals. In the United States alone, more than 40 million tons of steel are used annually in the construction industry. The majority of this quantity is used to create structural frameworks. This is where welding plays an indispensable role in construction.
Welding technologies are widely used in the construction industry, mainly for the fabrication of structurally sound metal frameworks by fusing various metals components. It is also used to create and maintain non-structural components. Some of the welding used for construction is pre-fabricated in a shop environment while other parts of the welding process are done on-site.
Applications of Welding in Construction
Construction comprises numerous industries, including transportation, oil, and gas, telecommunication, power, manufacturing, many others. The construction industry is very broad & diverse and is divided into three major sectors which differ by the type of structures they create. These sectors are Building, Infrastructure, and Industrial.
The application of welding is crucial to all three sectors.
As the name suggests, the building construction sector involves the creation of structures in which people can dwell and carry out their activities. This sector is further divided into residential and non-residential. Building construction mainly employs welding in the creation of structural frameworks from metal components. Welding is used for connecting steel I-beams, trusses, columns, and footers, to support the walls, roof, and floors of a building. These components are cut to shape and size, lifted into position, and welded together.
Structural welding is not employed as extensively in small buildings, as it is in high-rise buildings that require thousands of metal joints. Welding in building construction is also used for the fabrication of non-structural building components such as firewalls, stairs, handrails, and floor joists. Furthermore, welders work with other professionals in setting up various systems in a building. These include:
- Electrical systems – creating electrical conduits Construction for laying wires.
- Plumbing systems – installing water supply and wastewater drainage pipes.
- Ventilation systems – installation of vents and ventilation pipes.
- Fuel systems – installation of gas supply pipes.
This sector is responsible for the creation of infrastructures such as bridges, dams, railways, stadia, water supply systems, highways, and wastewater management systems. The application of welding in infrastructure construction is mainly structural. This is because most of the structures created in this sector are megastructures that completely depend on structural reliable metal frameworks created via welding. Certain infrastructure such as bridges can be made almost entirely of metal. Others such as dams and water systems require a lot of pipe welding.
Industrial construction covers all structures that are utilized industrially. Structures created by this sector hardly stand alone but are usually part of a large system of numerous components and structures that work together for specific purposes. Such systems include manufacturing plants, refineries, mills, power generation stations, and many more. Industrial construction is considered the most diverse sector within the field as it cuts across numerous industries. The applications of welding in this sector are as diverse as the sector itself. TIG welders are used for the fabrication and maintenance of structural frameworks, pipelines, industrial equipment, and support structures for large components.
Welding Technologies Employed in the Construction Industry
The construction industry has a wide range of welding needs. Most existing welding technologies have one use or the other in the industry. Some of these and their uses are as follows:
- SMAW: Also known as arc welding, submerged metal arc welding (SMAW) is mainly used for welding steel structures.
- FCAW: Flux-cored arc welding is considered more convenient than its submerged arc counterpart. This technology is widely employed in fabrication using structural steel as well as heavy equipment repair
- GTAW: Gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW), also known as TIG welding, is crucial for its compatibility with various metals including stainless steel, aluminum, bronze, and copper.
- GMAW: Gas metal arc welding (GMAW), popularly known as MIG welding, is employed for both structural and non-structural purposes.
Application-specific welding systems employed in the construction industry include stud welders such as ProWeld Arc and pipe welders such as the PipeWorx welding system.
Benefits of Welding in the Construction Industry
The importance of structural integrity and durability in construction can hardly be overemphasized as structural failure can lead to a devastating loss of life and resources. Structures created weigh thousands of tons and are expected to last for hundreds of years. With the high strength and durability of weld joints, stakeholders in construction can rest assured that there’s nothing to worry about from the point of the framework.
Productivity is crucial to saving costs, resources, and time on any construction project. Productivity in a project is dependent on the efficiency of the processes involved. In terms of advancing construction efficiency, welding is at the forefront. While welding itself is a highly efficient process when using the right equipment, several other technologies have been incorporated into the process to make it even more efficient. Some of the technologies used in welding that are particularly beneficial to the construction industry are as follows:
This technology saves builders thousands of dollars and increases speed and productivity by eliminating the need for a welder to move to and from a power source to make necessary adjustments during welding. This is particularly helpful in high altitude welding where the actual welding may be 100s of meters above the ground where the power source is located. Some of the solutions that make up ArcReach include Cable Length Compensation (CLC™) which automatically adjusts the delivered voltage based on the cable length to ensure that the set voltage is always supplied; and Adjust While Welding (AWW™), which allows the operator to remotely adjust weld settings right from where they are working.
Weld Automation Equipment
Types of automation equipment that increase efficiency and accuracy include automatic wire feeders, welding manipulators, turning rolls, and welding positioners which are used to hold and rotate the pipe or other weldment.
Multiprocess TIG Welders
Some welding projects require more than one welding technology at a spot. It is stressful enough to switch equipment not to imagine doing this at heights where you would need to ascend and descend repeatedly. Multi-process welders eliminate this problem by combining various welding technologies into a single compact unit. In addition to all these, another factor that boosts productivity is the portability of welding equipment. This is appreciated when work has to be carried out over rugged terrain, at height, or in relatively small spaces.
The construction industry has a wide range of fabrication requirements. One of the numerous reasons why welding is indispensable in construction is its flexibility. For any size, work environment, or material, there is a suitable welding technique. For example, 5 cm diameter pipes can be welded as good as 50 m long beams and columns. Also, the various metal grades used in construction are all compatible with one welding technology or another.
Compared to many other manufacturing processes, welding is relatively cost-effective. To save even more, contractors and other industry stakeholders can simply rent high-quality TIG welders equipment, saving thousands of dollars on capital spending. If you are considering long-term continuous use, leasing your welding equipment might be an option to consider. Speak to one of our sales associates to learn more about our leasing programs and national accounts.