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Pulsed MIG Welders from Miller Pay for Themselves in Six Months for Pump Manufacturer

Slurry pump manufacturer sees savings benefits in energy, productivity, consumables and cleanup.

What if you were told that buying new welding equipment could improve your shop's productivity and efficiency so much that your savings on energy, maintenance and consumables would pay for the new equipment in only six months? With the purchase of two new pulsed MIG welding systems featuring the XMT® 304 multi-process power source from Miller Electric Mfg. Co., Weir Slurry North America, of Madison, Wis., saw it happen.

Sales representative, Rick Block with Dale Bolender of Weir Slurry North America stand next to the XMT 304 Inverter that welds such clean beads that they rarely need refinishing.

Like others switching to newer energy-efficient inverters, Weir found that using the XMT 304s not only saved money in energy and consumables - paying back the cost of the equipment - but also increased productivity, cut maintenance costs and improved weld quality for operators at all levels thanks to the easy-to-use controls and built-in programs. In fact, in a head-to-head test, the XMT 304s demonstrated that they perform 22 percent faster, require 40 percent less clean-up time and decrease overall production time by 30 percent compared to Weir's old equipment.

Weir Slurry North America

Weir Slurry North America is a division of The Weir Group PLC and a UK-listed company of engineering excellence. Weir produces state-of-the-art design, heavy-duty slurry pumps for a broad range of abrasive and corrosive services, including mining (gold, coal, iron ore, etc.), power plants, paper mills and industrial applications. The company manufactures pumps under the names of Warman, Galigher, ASH Pump and Hazleton. Weir also manufactures other equipment such as cyclones and knife gate slurry valves.

Pulsed MIG welding enabled Weir Slurry to decrease overall production time by 30 percent. The "MIGRunner" cart shown here enables operators to easily move the welding system to the work.

Everyday welding applications at Weir involve the design and fabrication of pump accessory parts, including bases the pumps are mounted on. These are machined from A36 mild steel and vary in thickness, from thin gauge to heavy plate, based on the customer's needs. The bases range in length from 3 to 10 feet and in width from 24-in. to 8 feet. All welds are horizontal (mostly T-joints) to increase weld strength, and must meet USB 1 code.

Weir has been a customer of Linde (formerly AGA Gas) in Madison for more than 15 years. During that time, sales representatives such as Rick Block have developed great relationships and a deep understanding for Weir's equipment needs."We came in with something (the XMT 304s) that we thought they would benefit from," Block says. "They took it upon themselves to work with it, and they've done a good job in educating and working with their employees to make it a success."

Inefficient Welders Cost More

"Working with both manufacturing and purchasing, we were looking for creative ideas to reduce costs," Block says. "We met our goal through reduced filler metal costs, increased productivity, reduced cleanup after welding, fewer reworked weldments, greater power source efficiency and reduced MIG gin consumables."

Historically, older machinery breaks down more often. This can be caused by many factors related to use, including worn out or broken parts, dirt or mishandling, or the machine simply being past its prime. It is quite common for breakdowns to occur due to dirt, dust and other contaminants affecting the internal components by entering the machine and wearing down parts. Newer technology in welding equipment, such as the Wind Tunnel Technology™ in the XMT 304, shields the internal components from dust, dirt and other contaminants, helping to reduce maintenance and increase productivity.

This unretouched photo of a nearly spatter-free weld bead explains how Weir reduced clean-up.

"I've seen the older welders that we've taken apart and how dirty and grimy they get," says Al Larson, Weir's weld and fabrication team leader. "With Wind Tunnel Technology available on the XMT 304, it's going to reduce maintenance and cleaning of the machines. They pretty much keep themselves clean."

Another problem with older welders is erratic output, which can cuase problems such as poor weld quality and excessive spatter. One of the biggest downfalls Weir found with its older welding equipment was spatter, which required significant clean-up time and quite often left too much re-work, cutting productivity. The incorporation of new welding equipment has successfully addressed this problem.

"Some of the guys were literally spending hours just trying to clean up the spatter," Larson says. "We tried different types of spatter spray and it was still difficult to get our operators set up for less clean-up. We ran a test between the new units and the [competitive] unit we were using. We timed it from start to finish, including clean-up, and the new Miller equipment performed 22 percent faster with 40 percent less clean-up time, and an overall decrease in production time from start to finish of 30 percent."

Inverters Pay for Themselves

In many cases, companies can pay back the cost of new welding equipment machines with savings in a relatively short time period, generally within one to two years.

"When we purchase new machinery we have to do a cost justification," Larson says. "And one of the outstanding justifications for buying the XMT 304 was that this machine will actually pay for itself within six months." While the savings come mainly from the productivity increases and power source efficiency of the new equipment, Weir also found that using the newer equipment was saving on consumables, including contact tips, nozzles and diffusers.

"Before we were changing nozzles once or twice a week due to the spatter," Larson says. "One of the XMT 304s has been running for more than two months and we still haven't changed the nozzle. It's a little worn, but you can't see it in the weld bead. The guys are still getting plenty of gas from it. It's fair to say we've reduced our costs in consumables by nearly 50 percent all around."

Why Pulsed MIG Welding?

Prior to using the pulsed MIG features of the XMT 304, Weir's nine welding operators were predominantly working with spray transfer. Pulsed MIG, also called pulsed spray transfer, improves the spray transfer process by pulsing small droplets of filler metal across the arc at a controlled time in the welding cycle. The pulsing occurs because the power source switches welding output rapidly between a high peak current to a low background current. The peak current pinches off spray-transfer droplets and propels them toward the work piece for good fusion. Because there is no metal transfer during the background current, the weld puddle has an opportunity to freeze, as opposed to spray transfer where molten drops are continuously transferred. Pulsed MIG was a better choice for Weir because it maintained high metal deposition rates and good fusion while increasing welding speeds. In addition, pulsed MIG's lower heat input needed helped weld a wider variety of metal thicknesses with a single wire diameter, helped with out-of-position welding and created a higher quality, more attractive weld.

XMT 304 Is User-friendly

Weir became interested in testing the XMT 304's pulsed MIG capabilities at the distributor's showcase. "Rick suggested we bring some of our guys out to test this new XMT 304," Larson says. "The guys pretty much fell in love with it. So we got Rick to bring one in for a demo test and after that we purchased two new units."

Respected in the industry as one of the most advanced, reliable and easy-to-use inverter-based welding power sources, the XMT 304 CC/CV model delivers a smooth and stable arc in all welding modes within its 5 to 400 amp welding range ( 300 amps at 60 percent duty cycle). It can perform Stick, TIG, pulsed TIG, MIG, pulsed MIG and air carbon arc cutting and gouging. The XMT 304's easy-to-use digital volt and amp meters insure that operators are welding at desired parameters. The XMT 304 is lightweight (76 lb.), portable and, coupled with running gear, makes the perfect equipment for welding anywhere in Weir's shop.

The efficiencies Weir has realized through the XMT 304 have also earned Weir the attention of a sister company in Sydney, Australia, after a convention of Weir's slurry pump operations managers wo rldwide was held in Madison.

"We had all of our worldwide mineral counterparts here for a plant tour and the one from Australia really liked the welders," said Larson. "I've already forwarded him a copy of our cost justification. They all liked what they saw."

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