Remote Control Welding Technologies Offer Innovative Ways to Improve Job Site Safety
Because many job sites are expansive, the welding may actually take place hundreds of feet from the power source. Remote control welding technologies offer welding operators the ability make critical process changes and parameter adjustments at the weld joint versus at the power source, thereby eliminating the need to navigate cluttered job sites and risk potential injury. Over the years, these technologies have also evolved to eliminate additional cords and control cables, and in some cases, to allow welding operators to alternate between welding processes remotely by the push of a button.
The information communicated from the wire feeder to the power source may include welding power source output command information (amperage/voltage), welding circuit on/off information (power source output contactor control) and/or power source state control (constant voltage/constant current). Welding operators can, in addition to the safety benefits, gain quality control by being able to adjust the actual voltage levels on the feeder’s digital meter.
As with other remote technologies, having each of these capabilities allows welding operators to spend more time welding as opposed to walking to and from the power source and makes them safer by not having to navigate obstacles on the job site. They also experience less strain and fatigue caused by repositioning cables.
Remote safety benefits for advanced welding processes
Many pipe welding contractors, specifically those serving the refinery, petrochemical, power generation and HVAC industries have begun to turn to advance wire welding processes to improve quality and productivity. These processes include modified short circuit GMAW welding and Pulsed GMAW welding. Gaining these advantages is still an option, while instilling remote welding capabilities into the welding process to improve safety.
Remote control technologies exist for the advanced welding processes that give the welding operator the ability to change weld parameters at the weld joint with a touch of a button, as well as the ability to change the weld processes. Welding operators simply connect the power source with a specially designed “smart” wire feeder to gain full remote control capabilities, including process selection, material type and wire diameter, gas type, wire feed speed and voltage. The power source automatically shifts all controls to the feeder when connected, eliminating the need to string and manage the clutter of the additional control cables.
The wire feeders with these remote technologies extend the distance from the power source 200 or more feet away from the power source (without line of sight issues) and they actually generate and control the welding process, which ensures the waveform extends to the point of use in an optimal state because it is only traveling the length of the GMAW gun cable. Previously, cables for advanced processes would carry the waveform from the power source over long distances to the feeder, resulting in a distorted waveform that could affect arc performance and weld quality. These cables could also be quite expensive to purchase and to repair should they become damaged.
Most importantly, by featuring one less cable (the communication cable) and giving the welding operator total process control at the weld, such remote control capabilities are again increasing safety by reducing travel to and from the power source.
ArcReach technology offers productivity benefits
ArcReach® technology from Miller provides complete remote control of the power source at the weld joint — without the use of a control cable. In addition, enhanced ArcReach technology available on the XMT® 350 FieldPro™ power sources from Miller makes it even easier for welding operators to adjust parameters at the weld joint so they can do their best work.
One new technology available in enhanced ArcReach offerings is Cable Length Compensation, or CLC™. This technology ensures that the voltage welding operators sets is the voltage they get at the feeder or remote — even hundreds of feet away from the power source. This allows greater accuracy and easier control of weld quality for the operator. It also saves time the operator would spend walking back and forth to the power source to dial in the voltage to meet welding specifications
In addition, the Adjust While Welding (AWW™) technology allows for parameter changes and precise adjustments at the wire feeder or remote while the arc is on — so operators can make adjustments during welding to compensate for heat buildup, changes in weld position or variations in part fit-up. This not only saves time, it also contributes to improved weld quality, since each stop and start of the arc introduces the potential for discontinuities or quality issues that often require time-consuming grinding between passes.
The new CLC and AWW technologies are available by pairing enhanced ArcReach accessories with the new XMT 350 FieldPro offerings from Miller. The XMT 350 FieldPro lineup includes a polarity reversing model that joins the larger ArcReach portfolio in late 2017.
The ArcReach family of products provides maximum fleet compatibility and greater flexibility, allowing companies to fully utilize their existing accessories and power sources until they are ready to replace or upgrade. If an existing fleet includes standard feeders, they can be paired with XMT 350 FieldPro welders. However, the benefits of ArcReach technology will not be available. If an existing fleet includes older ArcReach SuitCase® feeders or ArcReach remotes, they can be paired with XMT 350 FieldPro welders and will continue to deliver their existing ArcReach benefits. To enjoy the latest ArcReach benefits, pair XMT 350 FieldPro welders with new ArcReach SuitCase feeders, new ArcReach Smart Feeders or new ArcReach remotes.
ArcReach accessories are also compatible with a wide variety of Miller engine-driven welder/generators — including machines in the Big Blue® and Trailblazer® lineup — so companies can expand use of the technology with their existing fleet. Miller is the only welding equipment manufacturer to offer this type of remote-control technology without a control cable in an engine-driven power source.
Making the decision
Deciding between remote control technologies depends largely on the welding processes needed for a given application, but offers the same benefit on every one: safety. By removing the need to travel to and from the power source, they eliminate the hazard of trips and falls occurring while welding operators navigate what are often very cluttered work corridors. As companies continue to invest in greater safety education and new safety technologies, remote control technologies are one more item they can consider adding to help create a safer job site.