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.
A project manager approached Red-D-Arc with an interesting challenge. Their power plant stack had a failing paint system which needed to be prepped for repainting in order to prevent further corrosion. They needed a method of prepping the surface of the 60 foot tall stack which could be performed without the use of scaffolding and would not produce any residual waste, since it might interfere with sensitive components.
Red-D-Arc’s Blasting Specialists suggested dry ice blasting (DIB). Dry ice blasting is an environmentally sustainable cleaning and surface preparation method. It uses dry ice pellets which requires absolutely no clean up, unlike traditional surface preparation methods like grit, HP water and chemicals. Not to mention, dry ice blasting is very fast, effective and inexpensive.
Red-D-Arc offers dry ice blasting systems for rent, sale and lease. The customer decided to rent a Cold Jet A80 HP package complete with nozzle extension, extra hoses, air compressor and dry ice. Replacement equipment was also kept on-site to reduce down time in case maintenance was required. Two members of the Red-D-Arc Blasterentals team provided a one day training program for their staff.
The customer performed intermittent blasting for about one month and were very pleased with the results. So much so that the Project Manager decided to completely remove the failing paint rather than just cleaning it as originally planned. They estimated this method saved them about $40,000 compared to other methods that they had considered.
Visit our Dry Ice Blasting webpage or contact one of our Dry Ice Blasting Specialists to learn more about the many advantages of dry ice blasting.
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.
The decision to rent, lease or own welding equipment often depends on utilization rates, amount of equipment required and necessary process capabilities. If equipment will be used more than 60-70% you should consider buying or leasing equipment. If utilization rates are lower than 60%, renting may be the way to go. Renting provides you with immediate access to professionally maintained welding equipment when and where you need it. Red-D-Arc has the most up to date, diverse fleet of rental welding equipment available to accommodate any process or technological requirement.
We are a rental company after all, so let’s look at the welder rental option a little further. When renting a welder you pay for actual use, not equipment ownership. Renting minimizes costs associated with maintenance, repair, storage, handling and freight and can provide you with an opportunity to try out new equipment before deciding to purchase. Contractors, maintenance and repair companies, owner-operators and other welding professionals rent from Red-D-Arc because of our fleet size, equipment diversity, expert advice and equipment performance.
Many companies prefer to own their core fleet of equipment and rent additional equipment as required. Red-D-Arc’s WelderLogistics Lease Program program is a low cost, flexible option to obtain your core fleet, allowing you to conserve capital and avoid investing in depreciating assests. The WelderLogistics lease program is 100% write-off for tax purposes and the equipment remains under full factory warranty during the lease term. If you already have an existing fleet, simply trade it in for new equipment.
Red-D-Arc is pleased to announce that we have recently expanded our presence in the United Kingdom by acquiring Hember Limited. Headquartered in Warrington, Lancashire, Hember Limited was established in 1974 as a privately-owned provider of rental welding equipment and associated welding products, and grew to five locations with more than 26 associates throughout the United Kingdom including Bridgend, Barton, West Thurrock, Warrington, and Southampton. The acquisition of Hember expands Red-D-Arc’s presence within the United Kingdom to include more than 40 associates in seven locations, all offering the company’s full line of welding positioners, manipulators, turning rolls, and other weld automation products for sale and lease, as well as a range of Red-D-Arc welding products and equipment for both long-term and short-term rentals.
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, column and booms, rotators and other weld automation products, available through our global distribution network. We also design and build bespoke 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 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.”
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.