Repair Manager Puts 45-lb. Millermatic® Passport™ MIG Welder Through the Paces
The tools of the trade. A helmet, extension cord and his Passport are all Kellogg needs to get to work on keeping Tri-City Mechanical’s machines running properly.
It wasn’t that plant maintenance languished before. With hundreds of welders, welding generators, wire feeders and metal forming equipment on hand at Tri-City Mechanical, Repair Manager Martin Kellogg managed to keep the Chandler, Az., plumbing, mechanical and HVAC contractor in production mode.
When Kellogg started with the company four years ago and the table on a coil line was bent and needed repair, he assembled a cadre of equipment and lugged a heavy 250-amp welder and an 80 cu.-ft. cylinder of shielding gas to the site…to spend about 30 seconds welding a single three-inch by three-inch piece of angle iron to level the table. Then he lugged it all back.
The same went for other in-shop repairs and equipment modifications. After figuring out what he needed to do to get the equipment back in operation or convert it to a new use, he would go back to his welding shop and gather his equipment and slowly cart it over to the job site. And if the welding needed to be done in a tight space or off the floor, he just had to hope that his MIG gun was long enough. If not, he needed to get out a Stick welder. If the project was large, this meant wasting time chipping slag and changing electrodes every 60 seconds.
That was life before the Millermatic® Passport™ from Miller Electric Mfg. Co. Now, instead of taking 20 minutes or more to make a 30-second weld, Kellogg simply picks up the all-in-one, 45-lb. Passport, walks to the repair site, plugs it in to a 115V or 230V outlet, makes the weld and walks back to his office by the tool crib. If the welding needs to be done in a tight space or well off the ground, the Passport can go wherever Kellogg goes, allowing him to always use MIG, his preferred welding process.
|Demonstrating the Passport’s ability to access confined spaces, Kellogg reinforces part of a coil line with additional steel plates.|
Designed to meet the portability and flexibility needs of maintenance and repair technicians, the Passport is the world’s most portable and flexible wire welder. It offers unparalleled arc starts and arc performance, as well as reduced size and lightweight, because of its inverter technology. However, its most unique feature is an internal CO2 shielding gas cylinder (actually a paintball cylinder), which is capable of providing 25 minutes of welding time—that’s enough to make a weld 25-ft. long! With the Passport in hand, all Kellogg needs to start welding is an electrical outlet.
Like the Passport, Tri-City knows the meaning of flexibility. Founded in 1962 as a strictly residential HVAC contractor for custom homes and tract homebuilders, Tri-City Mechanical eventually shifted its focus to commercial projects and in 1997 changed its name from Tri-City Air Conditioning to Tri-City Mechanical to reflect the company’s expansion into mechanical and process piping, plumbing and temperature controls. Today, the company designs, manufactures and installs the mechanical and plumbing systems in major hospitals, schools, federal prisons, manufacturing facilities, office and retail buildings and more. Its parent company, Comfort Systems USA, aims to be the national leader in providing the highest quality installation, service and energy efficiency in commercial and industrial HVAC while caring for its customers, employees, the environment and realizing superior results for stockholders.
Recently, Kellogg was charged with modifying an old Linde shape-cutting machine by attaching a rail on the side for the lead hangers to slide onto. In the past, this simple task would have meant a time consuming process of assembling and transporting welding equipment to the site. With the Passport, Kellogg simply grabbed the welder and power cord and went to work on the rail.
No bigger than the case for a basic drill or reciprocal saw, Kellogg’s Passport stows conveniently away when not in use.
“That Passport really is something else,” he said. “I was really happy I didn’t have to drag a larger MIG welder over for that job. You don’t think of a machine like a Millermatic 135 as a ‘large’ or cumbersome welder until you carry a Passport.”
Kellogg was equally impressed by the arc quality and weld penetration delivered by the Passport. “The rail material was about 3/8-in. thick, and the Passport had no problem with penetration,” he said. “I love the way the Passport starts and runs, too. It doesn’t crack and pop and spatter at me when I start the weld. It’s a very smooth start, way better than non-inverter welders” (see the Passport in action at http://www.millerwelds.com/products/mig/millermatic_passport_plus/).
The Passport features Miller’s exclusive Multi-Voltage Plug (MVP™), which allows it to be plugged into either a 115V or 230V single phase outlet. Used with 115V power, the Passport produces 30- to 140-amp output and can weld mild steel up to 1/4-in. thick. Plugged into a 230V outlet, it puts out a total of 180 amps and can make high penetration welds on mild steel up to 3/8-in. thick.
The Passport also features Miller’s exclusive Auto-Line™ technology, which automatically recognizes 115 through 230V single-phase power without the operator having to remove the cover to re-link the power source. The Passport’s LVC™ line-voltage compensation feature further adapts to fluctuations in input power, up to ±10 percent, without any change in output current.
The internal gas bottle is strictly CO2, but for bigger jobs or where a different gas mixture is called for, the Passport also has a conventional inlet for an external shielding gas source. The pure CO2 of the internal cylinder produces a deeper, narrower weld bead, which helps when working on thicker material. When Kellogg needs a shallower, wider bead for his repairs, he also carries a small (XX cu.-ft.) cylinder of C25 (75 percent argon/25 percent CO2) along with the Passport.
“The pure CO2 has a very sharp finger of penetration, so if I had to repair something in the shop that had good fit up and needed deep penetration, I would use the internal CO2 bottle,” Kellogg said. “However, when I have a bigger gap to fill, I use the argon/CO2 mix. This spreads the puddle out and fills the gap better. It all depends on the application.”
On repair sites, Kellogg saves time and energy putting the Passport to use repairing pipes, ductwork and even other welders when they break. “There’s a significant difference in the amount of time it takes me to get the Passport to the repair site compared to getting one of the larger MIG welders I used before,” Kellogg said. “I don’t have to string extension cords, which ends up requiring more current to get the same amount of power to the welder due to cord voltage drop. I can just pick the Passport up and carry it instead of having to wrap everything up, disconnect the cylinder, put a cap on the cylinder and then take it where I need it.”
|The Passport’s portability greatly reduces the time it takes to get to and from a repair, such as this sheet metal conveyor table.|
The Passport also comes in handy for Kellogg when machines critical to the production process, such as a half-million dollar shape cutter, break down…and every minute the machine is down, the entire operation is down.
“For the most part, my job boils down to keeping production going. If something goes on that claw, that’s my number one priority,” Kellogg said. “Everything else I’m doing is put on hold until that machine is running again. In situations like those, it really helps to have the Passport sitting there all ready to weld.”
In a marketplace dominated by ever more efficient and streamlined businesses all vying for the same contracts, no company wants to have to explain that the construction on a building was delayed because a machine at their plant broke down and took longer than necessary to repair.
Sure, Tri-City Mechanical got along before the Passport and would still be producing and installing high quality mechanical and plumbing systems without it. But when minutes matter, any company is well advised to take advantage of every competitive edge they can get. To that end, Kellogg is happy knowing his contribution to keeping Tri-City Mechanical at the top of their game is improved with the use of the Millermatic Passport.
“If there’s anything I can do to make my job easier, faster and more productive, I’m going to do it,” Kellogg said. “And when it comes to welding, you get what you pay for. If you spend $800, you’ll get something that works OK. But if you invest $1,700 in a Passport, you’re going to get something that makes your life and job much, much easier.”