Reader's note: This is the fifth in a series of articles detailing the expansion of Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. — home to the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League. Miller and Hobart Brothers have been named as the Official Welding Equipment Provider for the Lambeau Field Expansion by the Green Bay Packers. Through a partnership with Miron Construction Co., Inc. — the Official Provider of Construction Services for the Green Bay Packers and Lambeau Field — Miller and Hobart Brothers have worked to bring the latest in welding technology to the site.
For the first article in the series on converting to Flux Cored welding, click here.
For the second article in the series on portable fume extraction equipment, click here.
For the third article in the series on dual operator engine-driven welder/generators, click here.
For the fourth article in the series on induction heating, click here.
In this article, we’ll specifically look at the use of the new Trailblazer® 325 EFI with Excel Power – a brand new engine-driven welder generator used extensively in the preparation and Stick welding reinforcement of existing columns in the Lambeau Field structure. These new machines feature industry exclusive technologies that reduce fuel use by as much as 35 percent, extend run times by as much as 50 percent and reduce noise by as much as 68 percent, helping Miron Construction to reduce its fuel consumption and improve the working environment by minimizing engine noise.
Steel Reinforcements Call for Extensive Welding
The North End Zone construction revolved around the addition of a massive elevator shaft for six new elevators, the new party deck that sits on top the stadium roof, and the new Mitsubishi Diamond Vision Video Board. The work in the South End Zone is even more extensive: to support the structures for the new video board and the new seating, an additional bay was added to the existing bowl and seven new levels were built on top of the existing three levels. This is where the majority of the added seating will be, as well as indoor shops and concessions. It also required major reinforcement of the existing steel columns.
This reinforcement included enhancing column base plates at the footings and adding plating and bar stock to the 3 levels of existing columns. Enhancing the bases involved adding 2-inch plate steel to the existing base. Steel plating 2.5-inches thick was added to some columns, while bar stock (2.5 x 2.5-inches and 5 x 5-inches) was added to others.
With this came the need for extensive welding, as well as the ability to run a variety of ancillary tools such as grinders, lights and fume extractors. Engine-driven welder/generators are used extensively in these applications to provide both welding and power capabilities.
Working with the new Trailblazer 325 EFI with Excel Power
Stick welding was used primarily throughout the site, although a number of ironworkers were also trained on, and transitioned over to, Flux Cored welding. The engine-driven welder/generators were primarily used for Stick welding, using 1/8-inch 7018 Stick electrodes to perform the extensive reinforcement on the columns.
One of the workhorses on this project was the new Trailblazer 325 EFI with Excel Power – a new machine rated at 325 amps at 100 percent duty cycle for Stick welding and 10 to 35 volts of MIG and Flux-Cored welding power. EFI stands for electronic fuel injection – a key advancement to engine-driven welder generators in recent years. EFI optimizes the air/fuel ratio for reduced fuel consumption, longer runtimes, and fewer emissions. It also provides more reliable starting performance in cold welding environments – such as the famed frozen tundra of Lambeau Field in the winter.
“Older engine drives with carburetors and chokes always had a hard time with the chokes freezing up in the winter,” says Jake Wirkuty, an ironworker with Miron Construction. “It seems with this electronic fuel injection that you can just switch over and it starts perfectly.”
In addition to the cold weather performance benefits, EFI is one component of these new machines that has helped Miron Construction reduce fuel use. The new Trailblazer models include two industry-exclusive technologies that help control engine speed and drive down fuel use: Auto-Speed™ technology and Excel Power. Auto-Speed technology automatically adjusts the engine speed to run at lower speeds determined by the load applied to the machine. For instance, an older model with a similar output may run at 3,600 rpm at all times when a load is applied, whereas the new Trailblazers adjust the engine speed to run at lower speeds depending on the total power needed. The new machines can even perform certain tasks – such as running the 1/8-inch Stick electrodes – at idle speeds of 2,400 rpm.
Excel Power is used exclusively to run jobsite power tools, providing 2,400 watts of pure 120-volt, 60-hertz generator power that is completely separate from the machine’s standard generator power (12,000 watts peak, 10,500 watts continuous). As it is separate, workers with Miron Construction are able to plug in power tools and run those at idle speeds of 2,400 rpm, whereas older conventional machines would immediately ramp up to 3,600 rpm. These technologies – combined with EFI – can reduce fuel use by as much as 35 percent and nearly double runtimes.
“It’s been easy to set up, and fuel consumption compared to the older Trailblazers – I bet you cut fuel in half,” says Wirkuty. “That means you spend less time filling up machines and less time having guys run to get fuel. You’re saving time and it’s just better for the guys time-wise.”
A significant improvement also brought to these machines by working at a lower rpm is reduced sound. Many in the construction field consider engine noise to be one of the top annoyances on the jobsite, and these machines reduce that noise by as much as 68 percent.
“The reduced noise on the machine is a lot better for the guy sitting next to it,” says Wirkuty. “The guy seems to weld better, you don’t have to put up with that noise all day, the people around you don’t have to put up with that noise all day – and being able to reduce that noise is especially important if you’re working towards the offices or other areas where people are still working.”
All of these new technologies were made possible without sacrificing one of the unique advantages of the Trailblazer line of engine-driven welder/generators: independent weld and generator power. These new machines feature Smart-Cor™ technology that ensures no interaction between the welding arc and jobsite tools being run off either the standard generator or Excel Power. Welder/generators without this capability can cause fluctuations in the welding arc when a load is simultaneously applied to the generator, creating an erratic arc and opportunities for discontinuities in the weld. This is particularly helpful for Miron Construction as they regularly have workers welding and then prepping other materials with grinders off of the same machine.
“There have been scenarios here that we have a guy weld with the generator and a separate guy prepping columns with a grinder ahead of him, and we haven’t had any issues with the guy welding losing amperage.”