Versatile engine-driven solutions with new technologies
Productivity is king on every jobsite. Whether the welding project happens on a mining claim in the remote Yukon Territory or at a trucking yard in California — finding ways to save time and get work done faster is critical to the bottom line. Making do with less-than-optimal weld settings, spending time on non-value-added activities such as rework, or walking to the power source multiple times a day to make parameter changes is costing thousands of dollars per year in your welding operations. Stop wasting money, and instead choose a welder/generator with the right technology.
New technologies available on engine-driven power sources in the market offer cutting-edge solutions to combat productivity loss. ArcReach® technology and Wireless Interface Control are two time-saving solution available on many Miller welder/generators — delivering cost savings, in addition to the associated benefits of weld quality and operator safety.
Delivering jobsite flexibility — and savings
Mitch Blaschke uses Big Blue® 800 Duo Air Pak™ and Trailblazer® 325 welder/generators every day. The machines are critical to tackling the challenges he encounters as lead mechanic for a gold mining crew in Canada’s Yukon Territory. Whether it’s repairing an excavator bucket or the track on a bulldozer, Blaschke and the other mechanics on Parker Schnabel’s mining crew deploy welder/generators to where the work must be done. The equipment is used to make repairs quickly and minimize downtime, an important factor in successful mining operations.
“When we have one machine that we can use for multitasking, it makes our job and life a lot easier,” Blaschke says. “We use our engine drives on a daily basis.”
ArcReach technology, which provides complete control of welding parameters at the weld joint without a control cord, is now available on nearly all Trailblazer and Big Blue products from Miller — delivering even greater benefits for productivity and operator safety. The technology eliminates time-consuming trips back and forth to the power source to make changes, which also reduces the risk of operator injury on the jobsite.
When Blaschke needs to make a repair on one of the massive wash plants on the mine claim, the work could be 20 or 25 feet off the ground. When the operator has complete control of welding parameters at the weld joint using an ArcReach-enabled feeder or remote, it eliminates the need to climb up and down to make changes at the power source. Without this time-saving solution, it might require five to 10 trips to the power source to make adjustments, especially when a project requires working on metals of varying thicknesses. These trips can add up to several hours of time — or even more on large projects. And the more trips an operator makes, the greater the risk for injury.
“With ArcReach technology, we can be up in the prewash, up in the screen deck welding and not even have to get down to make adjustments,” Blaschke says. “That’s huge, in time savings and in safety.”
On his large Yukon claim, mine boss Tony Beets faces similar challenges. The massive equipment needed on a mining operation often requires daily maintenance and repair. The work could be on the floating dredge that Beets uses to mine gold or on the wash plant that sluices gold on a different part of the claim. Among the many welders and power sources on the claim, the Beets crew uses a Big Blue 600 Air Pak engine-driven welder/generator with ArcReach technology to maximize productivity so they can keep mining equipment running.
“The Big Blue Air Pak that we’ve got on the dredge right now has got it all. You’ve got your air there, you’ve got all the power you need. If we wanted to use two welders on that, we can easily do that,” Beets says. “You have everything right there, so you save time. Time is money.”
The crew can use the Big Blue 600 Air Pak to power an air hammer for breaking up slag or an impact wrench to do work around the dredge. They also use it for welding and as the main power source on the dredge to run pumps, lights or tools. The addition of ArcReach technology is one more benefit to the all-in-one solution — and it’s especially beneficial when working on the floating dredge to ensure weld quality.
“ArcReach technology saves so much time — having the ability to be right there and fine tune it,” Foreman Kevin Beets says. “I get the settings right where I need them, so I can get dialed in right instead of close enough.”
Benefits for a wide range of jobsites
On a mining site, welding jobs often mean repairing heavy equipment quickly with what’s on hand to keep the operation running. Different jobsites and welding applications pose different challenges, but the demand for productivity, safety and quality remains. Engine drives with ArcReach technology deliver benefits wherever they are used.
Mark Upshaw uses a Trailblazer 325 welder/generator with ArcReach technology to save significant time on welding jobs — sometimes up to several hours each day depending on the job. Upshaw is the owner of M&M Welding, a California-based welding operation that specializes in industrial welding for vacuum trucks and tanks, food processing plants, mining operations and custom projects. Many of Upshaw’s welding jobs happen on the customer’s jobsite, so he uses a service truck equipped with his Trailblazer 325 to complete jobs.
“A lot of my work is hard money bid jobs. It's a very competitive market. We have to be able to keep our bids low enough to get the job, which means we have to be fast and efficient in order to make money,” Upshaw says. “What we look for are engine drives that have versatility, for whatever application we need to do at the time.”
At one customer jobsite, Upshaw and his crew climb inside of vacuum truck tanks to make welding repairs. Getting in and out of the tanks — through a manhole that is typically 14 to 20 inches wide — is tricky. Reducing the number of times an operator must crawl in and out of the tank to make parameter adjustments saves time and improves operator safety.
“We prefer the ArcReach system because of the difficulty getting in and out of these tanks. ArcReach allows us to make all the adjustments from inside the tank,” Upshaw says. “Prior to using ArcReach, we would have to either have an outside man going back and forth from the power source to make our adjustments, which means an extra man hired to do that, or you would waste 10 to 15 minutes each time to come out of the tank, make the adjustments, then get back down inside the tank.”
Depending on the size or location of the welding project, those trips can add up to several hours per day for Upshaw and his crew. ArcReach technology eliminates that wasted time and improves productivity.
“It cut our costs considerably, besides the additional safety factor,” Upshaw says.
Saving money by utilizing existing power sources is another benefit of the technology. Because ArcReach accessories are compatible with a range of power sources, incorporating new machines into the fleet is seamless. The same ArcReach wire feeders and remotes that work on plug-in power sources equipped with the technology can also be used with engine-driven power sources.
For Bezates Construction Inc. Owner Nick Bezates, Wireless Interface Control is, in his words, a ‘must-have.’ Wireless Interface Control gives him full front panel access from wherever he is on the jobsite, in a palm-sized remote. He can adjust and save arc control settings, including DIG and DIG Range Inductance, and adjust amperage and voltage at the joint. It comes optional on Big Blue and Trailblazer 325 models.
““To get in your man basket and get 20-30 feet in the air and think ‘I forgot something,’ and then go all the way back down to change one little thing is time consuming,” Bezates says. “Now if I forget something, it’s all right there.””
Additional cost-saving technologies
Reducing the time spent walking to the power source to make adjustments can save thousands of dollars per welding operator, per year — a big impact on the bottom line for any operation. When choosing an engine drive, it’s also important to consider one that offers additional technologies that contribute to a lower total cost of ownership and faster return on investment.
Several Miller-exclusive technologies on engine-driven power sources work in conjunction to decrease fuel usage, lower operating costs and reduce jobsite noise.
The Trailblazer 325 used by Upshaw and Bezates delivers fuel savings in several ways, such as through Auto-Speed™ technology and Excel™ power — technologies that help increase fuel efficiency and improve the machine’s performance and longevity.
A machine with Auto-Speed technology responds to the weld requirements by automatically adjusting engine speed to one of four rpm levels — rather than operating at 3,600 maximum rpm under any load (like other machines on the market). Operating at the engine speed required by the job keeps the engine from working harder than necessary, saving fuel and ultimately money. In addition, a unit equipped with Excel power delivers a full 2,400 watts of auxiliary power at all speeds — even idle. This delivers cost savings and safety benefits to Upshaw, since jobsite tools like grinders can be operated at speeds that save fuel and reduce noise.
Another way to improve fuel efficiency and maximize profitability is to choose a welder/generator with electronic fuel injection (EFI). This technology provides faster, more-reliable starts in any weather — and delivers up to 42 percent greater fuel efficiency.
“When we come in with these bids, we have to crunch every dollar that we can. We have noticed considerable fuel savings with the Excel power and the electronic fuel injection on these machines,” Upshaw says. “And with the engine drive running quieter in idle, it allows you to communicate with your fellow workers much easier.”
Save time and money
Wasted time and lost productivity are enemies in any welding operation — especially in harsh conditions or on large jobsites or those where it’s difficult for operators to get to where the work must be done. Any opportunity to work smarter saves time and money, so don’t settle for a less-optimal solution. The right welder/generator solution, equipped with advanced technologies, can help complete work faster while also improving quality and safety.