5 Tips on How To Create a Work Environment That Attracts the Best New Welders | MillerWelds

5 Tips on How To Create a Work Environment That Attracts the Best New Welders

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Improving the welding environment can help you better meet evolving welder expectations and save time in welder training.
An operator welds and receives real-time feedback on a screen
Operator makes adjustments on the front panel of a welding power source in a manufacturing setting

How to improve the welding environment

 

While the practice of welding has remained relatively unchanged, work environments and the technologies involved are changing. How is your operation embracing the changes?

Adjustments can be made to the welding environment to help better meet changing welder expectations, save time in new welder training and reduce time spent on non-welding activities. Learn more about how your operation can adjust — and ultimately help welders create high-quality welds.

How is the welding environment changing?

Numerous factors are driving changes in manufacturing welding operations. These include:

  • Experienced welders reaching retirement
  • Newer workforce with different expectations
  • New and evolving technologies

The skilled labor shortage ultimately means manufacturers are spending more time recruiting and training new welders. In addition to the training aspect, companies may also be dealing with more weld quality issues as less skilled welders are integrated into the operation.

This influx of new welders is also driving changes in the welding environment to meet the needs of the newer workforce. Part of this evolution is the expectation for a more comfortable, cleaner working environment. The type of environment that people want to work in is changing. As a result, the manufacturing environment as a whole is undergoing changes, including a greater emphasis on a comfortable environment and more digitization and automation in processes.  

Consider these five factors that can help operations adjust to the changing welding environment and expectations of new employees.

No. 1: Meeting changing expectations

As experienced welders retire, they are replaced by a new generation of younger welders who often have different expectations for their work environment and what an employer should provide.

While offering Wi-Fi and occasional phone access may not have been important in the past, in today’s environment they can be recruitment incentives for the new generation of welders.

These generational differences happening in the industry now may also require companies to take a different approach from an HR perspective. For example, the mechanisms for hiring and retention may be quite different from what they have been in the past.

No. 2: Modern technology and products

Legacy welding power sources have been workhorses for many years, but with the changing environment and the varied skill levels of today’s welders, upgrading to newer technologies can help manufacturers address a variety of challenges.

Today’s welders expect equipment and systems that are easier to use and navigate. Newer welding power sources are often designed with technologies that can help welders improve their skills as they’re learning — and still create high-quality welds, even with variations in technique.

Look for welding solutions and processes that offer a wider operating window, which can help reduce spatter and weld defects, saving time and money. Pulsed welding isn’t a new technology, but the Accu-Pulse™ process from Miller is a pulsed MIG welding process that provides a 28% wider operating window and a more forgiving arc. This helps welders of all skill levels get into production quicker.

Deltaweld® systems are available with Accu-Pulse technology and also include EZ-Set technology, which simplifies parameter setup based on material thickness — removing complexity and reducing welder training time.

In addition, newer welding equipment often includes easy user interfaces and graphics to aid new welders.

Weld data monitoring technology can also assist in training new welders by providing real-time feedback along with digital work instructions and quality control within the weld cell. Insight Centerpoint™ weld data monitoring from Miller includes WorkFlow™ technology, which provides guided work instructions for pre-welding, intra-weld and post-welding activities, leveraging resources like images, videos and audio to directly improve quality and productivity.

No. 3: New welder training solutions

Newer training solutions are another way to help engage the younger generation of welders and get them producing high-quality welds faster.

The AugmentedArc® Augmented Reality Welding System from Miller simulates multiple welding processes, blending real-world and computer-generated images into a unique, augmented reality environment. This type of training solution can foster an environment of continuous improvement while helping welders build on their training and skills.

Companies that don’t have the resources for an in-house training program can also look to partner with other companies or trade schools to launch a welder training program.

No. 4: Gamification

Continuous improvement — and striving to reach a series of goals — can also be aided by gamification of the workplace. The concept of gamification involves bringing principles from gameplay (such as point scoring, rewards, competition with others) into the work setting to make it more engaging.

For example, the same way gamers earn badges or points to level up as they play, employees can build skills and improve themselves as they work. Applying gamification principles to welding could mean providing bonuses or extra time off for every step in a process they learn or achieve — incentivizing their progression through a skill tree. This can help employees and organizations reach continuous improvement goals for skill levels, efficiency or productivity.

No. 5: Focus on welder comfort

There are many solutions to help make the work environment comfortable and inviting for new welders.

Appropriate and effective personal protective equipment (PPE) provides safety and comfort for operators. Technology advancements, such as Miller® ClearLight™ Lens Technology, provide a high-definition view of the workpiece and weld puddle, resulting in improved visibility, comfort and quality.

The welding environment also plays a key role in welder comfort. Each environment should be evaluated to determine the best solution, which may include fume extraction equipment and/or other means of respiratory protection, such as powered air purifying respirators (PAPRs) or supplied air respirators (SARs).

Beyond proper welding safety, a comfortable manufacturing environment may also include regular cleaning, better lighting and air conditioning. Welder comfort pays dividends through employee retention, increased productivity and improved quality. When employees aren’t distracted by uncomfortable working conditions, they will be more efficient at getting their work done.

An updated welding environment

As technology evolves and the workforce changes, being able to adapt is crucial for staying competitive. Companies that embrace the changes and react to the new expectations of today’s workforce will be more successful.

Consider how new welding technologies, updated training solutions and providing a comfortable working environment can help in attracting and retaining the next generation of welders.
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