Welding is a cost-effective manufacturing process. However, several factors can significantly increase or reduce the cost-effectiveness and productivity of a welding project. These range from operational efficiency to the use of consumables.
In this article, we will go through 10 ways to significantly reduce welding costs and boost the productivity of welding projects.
1. Avoid Overwelding
Overwelding occurs when a weld is larger than it needs to be. This is a common occurrence in the welding industry, especially with inexperienced welders. An overweld may result when there is no specified weld size in a design, when there is no fillet weld gauge, or when a big weld is created just to play it safe.
Overwelding is a significant resource drain; it uses more arc time, labor, shielding gas, and filler metal, which leads to higher costs. To put this waste into perspective, consider a 1/4″ overweld instead of a required 3/16″ weld: The overweld results in a 78% increase in both weld metal deposition and arc-on time. This goes up to 177% when the overweld is 5/16″.
Welding automation has been around for a while, but recently its role has grown exponentially in manufacturing. For years, the welding industry has faced a skill gap, which is expected to grow wider in the coming years. To combat this, employers are adopting automated welding equipment to increase the efficiency of weld operations.
What Is the Skill Gap?
The “skill gap” describes a discrepancy between the skills held by job seekers and the skills employers need. This leads to a paradox where there’s a large pool of applicants, but companies aren’t able to hire workers with the appropriate knowledge and skill set. This has led to increasing welder salaries as manufacturing businesses compete to attract skilled workers, and even then, many positions are left unfilled.
Why Is It Happening?
Two main factors are contributing to this situation: a lack of qualified applicants entering the workforce and an increasing number of employees seeking retirement. Interestingly, these two issues may be caused by social factors rather than economic ones.
Few People Entering the Workforce
The newest generation entering the workforce is the most educated in U.S. history, which is a positive thing in most regards. However, it means that fewer young people are going into trades such as welding. There’s also a feeling among parents that welding, ironwork, construction, and other industries that require hard labor are dangerous or low-paying and therefore not worth pursuing. This has created a push toward white-collar jobs despite the high wages and many benefits offered in the manufacturing field.
With a huge percentage of employees planning to leave the workforce within a couple of years, thousands of positions will open at once and, unfortunately, be left unfilled.
Many Welders Are Reaching Retirement Age
The majority of current trade workers are from the Baby Boomer generation and are nearing retirement. With a huge percentage of employees planning to leave the workforce within a couple of years, thousands of positions will open at once and, unfortunately, be left unfilled.
What Is Welding Automation?
Welding automation is the term used to describe the use of equipment which automates all or part of the welding process. The term hard automation is sometimes used to describe the application of positioning machines designed to hold and manipulate the weldment (object being welded). Automated welding doesn’t necessarily mean robotic welding, rather it is simply the application of automation technologies such as positioners, manipulators and turning rolls to the welding process. The weldment may be positioned for manual or automated welding processes. For example a pipe may be rotated on a positioner while being welded by a hand held welding head or by a welding head fixed to a manipulator arm for a fully automated set up.
How Can Automation Be a Solution To Labor Shortages?
Primarily, welding automation solves the skill gap dilemma by filling positions with machines instead of people. However, the switch to robotics can offer companies several advantages and will likely continue to transform how welding is done.
While the purchase and installation of a machine may be expensive initially, businesses can save money in the long run. There are many financing options available for commercial enterprises to purchase equipment, making the process more affordable, and employers don’t have to worry about costs associated with hiring, such as wage, benefits, and professional development.
Machines can produce higher quality goods more consistently than human workers and work much quicker, which means more production and profits. Having fewer mistakes also means less waste and more products available for sale.
Perhaps the most advantageous quality of machines is their ability to store welding routines and settings. Human workers must dedicate time and energy to learning a new skill and are inevitably bound to make mistakes along the way, costing the company. Machines, on the other hand, perform actions exactly as they are instructed. This means you can easily alter a robot’s role by changing the programming without having to deal with a learning curve. Many modern welders come with pre-programmed routines and settings and are able to make appropriate adjustment automatically with some basic input from an operator.
What Should Manufacturers Know About Implementing Automation?
While welding automation technologies have evolved significantly, implementation still has its challenges, especially for businesses that are just starting to automate their welding operations. For example, though it isn’t actually the case, workers may consider the shift to automation as a threat to their livelihoods. You can ease this fear by communicating with the employees about the ways automation helps improve in the production process – ensuring that a company remains competitive. It also makes the work of welding safer and less strenuous and allows them to focus on higher skilled, more interesting welding tasks. In the case of welding robotics, assigning a robot to a necessary but repetitive task can free up workers for roles that require a human’s problem-solving skills. Collaborative robots (cobots) are designed to work in tandem with human workers and offer great gains in welding productivity.
You also face the challenge of finding the right equipment for your needs and incorporating it into your line operation. These issues should be carefully researched before you make any commitments.
In determining a welding automation supplier, you’ll want to establish an ongoing relationship with a company that’s able to address both startup and longer term issues that accompany a transition to automated welding:
Maintenance of equipment
You’ll want to work with a company that has a thorough solid understanding of your industry and offers reliable technical and customer support.
Are you interested in adding welding automation to your manufacturing process? Red-D-Arc offers a variety of equipment. For more information or to get a quote, give us a call at 866-733-3272 or contact us online.
The manufacturing industry is in distress. There is a shortage of skilled talent and this gap is only widening. While manufacturing companies are able to make goods faster and cheaper than ever, there is a growing lack of skilled manufacturing employees to ensure that production continues. Industry projections from Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute, among other industry analysts, predict that over the next decade, more than 2 million manufacturing jobs will go unfilled across the U.S. (more…)
Welding small diameter tubing can be difficult. The tight radii often require expert welders to deliver precise torch manipulation with finesse. If the welder is not skilled enough, the out of position areas are at risk of poor quality due to gravity affecting the weld pool and ineffective torch angles. If out of position welds cannot be completed satisfactorily, the part must be rotated. However, some assemblies can’t be rotated because of size constraints or they might rotate off of center. If a mechanized welding solution is desired for small diameter components, look no further than our Axxair Orbital Fusion Closed Welding Head Systems. (more…)
When one of our customers was tasked with an electrical motor shaft rebuild that required them to weld new fins onto a 7” diameter shaft, they called on Red-D-Arc’s team of experts for assistance. The job required the shaft to be preheated to a temperature of 400°F and welded using a submerged-arc process (SAW). Using the Miller Proheat 35 and Lincoln’s LT7 sub arc package, a job that was originally bid at 40 hours took just 3 hours to complete. (more…)
Red-D-Arc was featured in the December/January issue of Tank Storage Magazine in an editorial titled “Rental welding equipment for storage tank fabricators”. Tank Storage Magazine is an industry leading publication, reporting exclusively on the bulk liquid storage tank and terminal sector.
The storage tank construction industry is highly competitive and fabricators gain a significant advantage by leveraging Red-D-Arc’s rental fleet of automatic tank welding equipment. Red-D-Arc supplies specialized automatic storage tank welding equipment to companies in the tank fabrication industry for projects all over the world.
Along with our specialized tank welding equipment comes a highly knowledgeable and experienced team of Red-D-Arc technicians. Sayer Hendricks – storage tank welding equipment specialist at Red-D-Arc is quoted in the article: “A fabrication company without prior knowledge of the equipment, is able to rent a turn-key tank welding automation system and increase their welding productivity by 40-50%. With on-site training, service and support, our customers are up and running quickly and making 100% x-ray quality welds without fail”
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.
A metal fabrication company located in Charlotte, North Carolina received an order for 300 small I.D. vessels for titanium molds. At the time they were using FCAW and back gouging the inside and outside of the vessels to achieve 100% penetration. On average they were producing 2 vessels per hour with 2 welders.
They reached out to Red-D-Arc to find a faster and more efficient way to produce these vessels. After discussions with Red-D-Arc the fabricator decided to purchase a turnkey submerged arc system. The custom designed system came complete with a small I.D. sub arc welding head mounted on a 9’x9′ manipulator, flux recovery system, NA5R automatic wire feeder, DC600 multi-process welderand 5 ton turning rolls. The system also included a laser and camera for precise control and monitoring of the submerged arc welding process.
The submerged arc system increased productivity by 250%. They were able to produce 5 cans per hour with half the labor cost. The safety of the work place was also significantly increased for a number of reasons:
• Back gouging was eliminated which in turn reduced the risk of fire
• Turning rolls replaced manual rotation of the vessels on tables
• Welders no longer had to weld inside the confined space of the vessels
The customer and the Red-D-Arc team were beyond pleased with the results. The customer plans to purchase two more of these systems for future projects.
Submerged arc welding can increase the efficiency and quality of many industrial welding projects regardless of the size or complexity. Red-D-Arc has all the equipment, expertise and experience to provide you with a submerged arc system to fit your needs – available for sale, lease and rent
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 has opened a new Branch in Regina, Saskatchewan to serve the growing demand for welding, weld automation and power generation equipment rentals in Western Canada.
Cody Sauer is the branch coordinator at the new Regina location. Coming from the oil, gas and potash industry, Cody is very knowledgeable and looking forward to helping our Saskatchewan customers with their welding needs.
The next time you need welding equipment or advice in the Regina area be sure to stop by the branch, or give them a call at 306-522-1874.
Red-D-Arc has launched an exciting new product designed to increase the productivity and efficiency of pipe welding. The Red-D-Arc Process Pipe Cell with oscillating welding torch is a dual wire feeder, multi-process welding cell.
The system is easy to set up and operate and reduces weld operator errors, reduces welding time, and increases deposition rates, productivity and arc-on time.
A variety of welding power sources and wire feeders can be used with the system including Miller RMD PipeWorx 400 and Lincoln STT S350, S500 and S700 Power Wave systems, with all welding functions controlled via a remote interface.
Root passes can be performed manually with solid wire using either RMD or STT technology (instead of manual GTAW or SMAW) followed up by hot passes and cap passes either solid-wire or flux-cored) with the jammer-style weld oscillator.
Choose the welding positioner, welding chuck, turning roll set or headstock to suit your specific needs. All positioning functions including welding head manipulator, oscillator, welding positioner and turning rolls are managed via a single control.
Contact a Red-D-Arc Weld Automation Expert to learn more or request a demo: 1-866-733-3272 | Contact Sales
One of our clients, a machine shop based out of Opelika Alabama, needed a solution for welding stainless steel tubes and elbow sections efficiently that would be able to withstand hydrostatic testing of up to 300psi. After taking the time learn about their requirements, specialists from the Red-D-Arc branch in Austell Georgia, worked alongside experts from Airgas to demonstrate how the Orbitalum enclosed orbital welding system would help solve their challenges.
Red-D-Arc welding specialist Gregory Bellamy showed how the extremely narrow design of the Orbiweld 76S enclosed weld head was ideally suited for working in situations where space is limited. The Orbimat 76s was fitted with clamping shells (which are available for all dimensions of pipe) to ensure an exact match and strong hold. The pipe on this application was stainless steel tubing 1.500″ with a .035″ wall, diameter tubing (straight tube) and stainless steel elbow 180 degree 1.500″dia. with a .049″ wall. When the welds were complete, the welded pipes passed the hydrostatic testing at upwards of 300psi.
Thanks to Gregory Bellamy and Rob Storch from Red-D-Arc as well as Wayne Blamire and Bill Hatter from Airgas for their support on another successful orbital pipe welding customer demo.
Red-D-Arc designed and built a custom made manipulator with a boom length of 30 ft for a leading tank manufacturing company in the Netherlands. The Red-D-Arc facility had to be customized with a raised roof section to accommodate the height of the large column. The raised roof was later opened, allowing for a crane to hoist the manipulator out of the manufacturing facility and then shipped to the customer.
The manipulator was part of a welding system provided by Red-D-Arc. The system featured a compact welding head designed for welding in narrow spaces, touch screen controls and a high resolution weld monitoring system to allow the operator to monitor the welding process from a safe distance.
A Red-D-Arc customer shared some interesting photos which document the process of extending the legs of a large seabound work platform and also feature several Red-D-Arc turning rolls. The platform is used for cleanup activities on the seabed and in order to work at greater depths; the legs of the work platform needed to be extended. The massive cylindrical legs were placed on Red-D-Arc turning rolls and rotated while the cutting and welding processes were carried out. Once the extensions were completed the legs were then returned to the platform.
Red-D-Arc is running a limited time, special offer on Quality-Checked used welding equipment. Until June 30th, a selection of pre-owned welders are available at significantly discounted prices. These welders are in “like new” condition, include a 12 month warranty and are in stock – for fast delivery. Don’t miss out! See the flyer for more details.
Red-D-Arc supplied equipment and installation services for a new weld overlay cladding facility in the west of Scotland for one of the leading global distributors of raw material for wellhead and completion equipment to the oil and gas industry. After discussions with the client, Red-D-Arc designed a solution to meet the specific needs of their project. It was determined that the new cladding facility would consist of six Compact Cladding Cells and four Butt Welding Stations.
Layout of the facility began with our experienced engineers installing the six Red-D-Arc Compact Cladding Cells. Each Compact Cladding Cell consists of an automated system controller, 2m x 1m cross slide, 3 tonne turntable with built-in slip ring for preheating, and a Miller power source. Next, the four Red-D-Arc Butt Welding Stations were installed. Each station consists of an automated system controller; 3m x 3m travelling column and boom; 300mm x 300mm oscillation slide; 3 tonne headstock, 2 travelling support pipe idlers and a Miller power source.
The Red-D-Arc Weld Automation team has extensive experience across diverse sectors of industry. We regularly provide weld process recommendations and develop specialized solutions alongside our customers to address their unique challenges. Red-D-Arc Weld Automation Systems are designed for optimized reliability and productivity, and come complete with installation, onsite training, services and support.
Red-D-Arc contributed several Growing Line Systems to be used during the production of wind tower foundations for a wind farm in the Adriatic Sea. In addition to the Growing Line Systems, Submerged Arc Welders were supplied along with camera systems that are equipped with a monitor and touch screen for optimal control of functions. Red-D-Arc equipment was used because the foundations must be long and strong to withstand the depth of the Adriatic Sea.
To learn more about Red-D-Arc Growing Lines and Fit Up Stations watch our video: reddarc.com/videos
MacAljon, an industrial general contracting firm, has increased the productivity of its thin-wall tank manufacturing operation by more than 50% using the Red-D-Arc RDA MFUB-TW (fit-up bed for thin-wall cans). Fit-up time has been decreased by 20% and the use of spider bracing is no longer required. With no spider bracing to get in the way, a manipulator is now used to perform SAW ID circumference welding which has increased productivity by 30%.
The RDA MFUB-TW system is specially designed for the construction of thin-wall vessels ranging in size from 10′ to 15′-6″ in diameter (custom sizes are available). Our patented system is fitted with independently-adjustable vertical-rolls to support, align and compensate for tank non-concentricity when assembling multiple thin-wall sections which eliminates the need for spider bracing.
If you work with vessels that require the use of spider bracing or that have a wall thickness of between 3/16 – 3/8″ contact the Red-D-Arc sales team to learn more about the RDA MFUB-TW and how it can increase the productivity of your thin-wall tank manufacturing operation.
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.
As one of the leading power generation rental and service providers in the southwest U.S. D&D Power, a Red-D-Arc company, has the capability to keep your oilfield power generation equipment running. With over 40 service technicians covering the shale plays of Texas, Oklahoma and southeast New Mexico, we offer critical response service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We usually have equipment back up and running in under 2 hours.
D&D Power offers rental diesel, natural gas and hybrid bi-fuel generators along with generator paralleling systems and portable light towers. Visit the Oilfield Services web page to learn more.
Single and tandem (multi-wire and multi-arc) submerged arc welding heads are available for sale, lease and rent. Tandem systems include multi-arc heads with up to 6 welding arcs and multi-wire heads capable of up to 4 wires, all of which are available to accommodate deep groove and narrow gap applications. We have extensive experience designing special purpose, custom welding heads to suit any requirement.
Red-D-Arc’s tandem welding system provides a touch screen interface for data monitoring and provides full welding control. The multi-arc central console system provides control of up to 6 weld heads and allows welding parameters to be saved and downloaded. An ergonomic hand held pendant allows the operator flexibility to observe the weld and adjust parameters “on the fly”.
The Red-D-Arc National Accounts program is designed to help large companies who are doing business across various geographical areas throughout the United States. As the largest provider of welding and welding-related rental products and services in North America, Red-D-Arc is the only company capable of meeting the rental welding equipment needs of North America’s largest companies.
Advantages of enrolling in the national accounts program include standardized pricing/price percentage discounts, Red-D-Arc’s dedicated National Accounts Specialists taking care, custody and control of customers accounts and the National Accounts hotline to manage all equipment procucrement and servicing needs.
Our rental welders, weld automation and specialty products are available through over 70 Red-D-Arc Service Centers. We can supply you with the equipment you need – where you need it when you need it.
For more information please contact Chuck McCabe at 612-475-8485.
Red-D-Arc now carries the Farrow 150 – available for sale, lease and rent. The Farrow 150 is the most advanced, versatile, and user-friendly wet abrasive blasting system on the market today.
Wet blasting substantially reduces media consumption and dust while still providing any profile and surface cleanliness required. The Farrow 150 uses 50-75% less abrasive than conventional dry blasting. Air particulates are reduced by over 90%. Less contamination results in lowering clean-up and disposal cost.
Its compact size and weight make the Farrow 150 easy to transport to and from any work site. Blast pressure can be adjusted from 30 psi to 120 psi allowing for maximum range of control. Additional features include pneumatic controls, self-venting and pressuring pot as well as a 25 gallon internal water tank. The main components are now safely protected behind a fully enclosed powder coated frame, protecting the internal surfaces from corrosion for a more reliable, cleaner blast.
The American Welding Society (AWS) numbering system provides important information on stick electrodes including the appropriate applications, suggested welding positions and additional details which are critical to maximize weld quality and performance. Red-D-Arc offers many welding related resources including a quick reference guide designed to help make sense of the AWS welding electrode classifications.
Get your complimentary copy of our popular welding electrode classifications wallchart. This 18” by 24” quick reference guide provides helpful explanations and detailed information on welding electrode classifications, an essential resource for the office, shop or factory. Complete the following form to receive your free copy, shipped to you at no charge.
Airgas, an Air Liquide company, is the nation's leading single-source supplier of gases, welding and safety products. Known locally nationwide, our distribution network serves more than one million customers of all sizes with a broad offering of top-quality products and unmatched expertise.