Osage Ambulances Uses Pulsed MIG Welding To Build Life-Saving Emergency Equipment | MillerWelds

Osage Ambulances Uses Pulsed MIG Welding To Build Life-Saving Emergency Equipment

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The Millermatic® 355 with pulsed MIG capabilities allowed Osage Ambulances to increase productivity and maintain high quality.
Operator welds on aluminum
Operator uses the interface screen to set up Millermatic® 355 MIG welder

New Millermatic 355 welder delivers results

First responders and health care workers rely on ambulances in critical situations — when the durability of their equipment is the last thing they have time to think about. Osage Ambulances understands this and knows it’s crucial to fabricate quality products their customers can count on in life-or-death situations.

Quality and reliability are top of mind through every step in the production process, from fabrication of the chassis and ambulance body all the way through the last coat of paint.

Osage Ambulances in Osage County, Missouri, was established in 1983, building personal-use conversion vans. Through the years, they expanded and are now a custom ambulance manufacturer. The company’s 70,000-square-foot facility offers the capacity to produce 240 custom ambulances per year.

“It’s rare that a department can fit their needs and requirements inside a cookie-cutter box. That’s why at Osage we can customize your vehicle to specific requests,” says Brandi Robinson, Osage marketing specialist. “We build everything in-house and have the staff and equipment to build the truck that’s best for your needs.”

Quality is job one

Producing vehicles that meet consistent high-quality and dependability standards requires an experienced workforce. That's a point that Osage prides itself on. About one in every three workers at Osage Ambulances has been with the company for more than 15 years.

“We are proud to say that our team is dedicated to the work of building life-saving equipment every single day,” says Paul Marshall, regional sales manager. “The people who work at Osage don’t do so just to clock in and out and collect a paycheck. They want to be part of building vehicles that will save lives.”

The equipment that Osage employees use to design and fabricate custom ambulances also plays a key role in ensuring quality. Osage recently started using new Millermatic 355 MIG welders from Miller Electric Mfg. LLC. With that change, they’ve seen an increase in productivity while maintaining high-quality standards.

A new solution for pulsed MIG welding   

For several years, Osage Ambulances has used pulsed MIG welding to fabricate ambulance chassis and bodies. The shop had six Millermatic 350P aluminum welders and two 350P welders, one configured for aluminum and one for mild steel.

The move to pulsed MIG was a game changer, allowing Osage to weld at much higher amperages with less distortion in the metal. This allows operators to put less heat in but still be able to weld a very thick metal. Pulsed MIG also provides good weld penetration and bead control.

“It gave us the ability to produce better-quality welds with less cleanup, less grinding, less heat input and a good deal of time saved,” says Jeremy Jenkins, fabrication shop manager.

Through their long-standing relationship with Miller — Osage has been using Miller® welding equipment for more than 20 years — the shop changed to new Millermatic 355 MIG welders. This machine still provides the pulsed MIG process the shop relies on for great results, as well as additional benefits. 

“While the new Millermatic 355 provides the same process we are currently using, the technology in the pulse program of this machine is 20-plus years newer,” Jenkins says. “It shows with a cleaner, tighter arc. This improves yet again on post-weld cleanup and additional time saved.”

The pulsed MIG capabilities allow operators to lower heat input so there is less risk of distortion or burn-through on thin metals. It also reduces spatter on all materials — resulting in less time spent on post-weld cleanup.

“Just seeing the difference between the Millermatic 355 and older machines — it has better pulsed control than any pulsed MIG machine that I’ve ever welded with,” says Osage welder Andy Gillford, who has been a welder for about 15 years, including 13 years as a boilermaker. “As long as you can move in a straight line, this machine will run good beads.”

Capability to easily weld different materials

Osage Ambulances welds a variety of material types and thicknesses, making the Millermatic 355 a good fit for their needs. The machine provides MIG and pulsed MIG capabilities for mild steel, aluminum and stainless steel in thicknesses from 22 gauge to half an inch.

With high amperage output and a long duty cycle, operators can make longer welds without stopping. An industrial, four-drive-roll, wire-feed system ensures consistent delivery of all wire types and diameters at all speeds. The machine is also compatible with push-pull guns for smooth feeding of aluminum wire.

“I would recommend it to any shop that does a fair amount of production welding, if you’re welding multiple materials or multiple thicknesses and you don’t want to switch around a whole bunch of stuff every single time you change,” Gillford says. “The 355 is the absolute perfect machine for that shop. It’s a versatile machine that lets you easily switch between aluminum and steel.”

Gillford, who fabricates ambulance sidewalls and side compartments, likes that he can easily adjust the wire with the Millermatic 355.

Simple and easy to use

The Millermatic 355 also has multiple features to help welders of all skill levels get more work done.

Auto-Set™ Elite technology makes it quick and simple to select the right parameters to produce high-quality welds. This helps Osage welders save time, since they don’t have to fine-tune the machine to what they’re working on. This is especially helpful for new welders at Osage.

“If you wanted to just go in there and set your Auto-Set to whatever material thickness you’re welding, that would be a quick way to start welding and then you could define it from there,” says Osage welder Blaine Toebben.

“Anybody can use it,” Gillford adds. “If you’ve never touched a welder in your life, by the end of the day you’ll be welding.”

Osage welders with more experience also benefit from the ability to fine-tune parameters as they want with the machine.

“A welder with more experience can go into this machine and really get into the meat and potatoes of the settings,” says Jenkins. “The guys like the ability to go in and adjust the arc control and the hot start.”

Gillford uses the hot start feature to adjust settings, so he gets more wire at the start of the weld and less wire as he’s welding.

“There is not a limit to the possibilities of what this machine can do,” Gillford says. “I set a program for the next thickness of material or the different types of material that I’m welding. Then two clicks on the gun, I’m in the next setting and I’m welding my next material.”

A USB port on the front of the machine has also proven handy for Osage Ambulances. They can update software in just a few minutes — eliminating potential downtime later if the machine had to be serviced.

Versatile MIG welder for many materials

Osage Ambulances needs versatile equipment that helps them efficiently produce high-quality welds, so they can get finished emergency vehicles out the door to customers faster.

“The sales and service with Miller, the reliability, all of those things are something that we weighed heavily on,” Jenkins says. “I would recommend this product to anybody that do