Remote Control Welding Technologies Offer Innovative Ways to Improve Pipe Welding Safety
Learn how remote welding technology helps keep pipe welders safe on the jobsite.
Improved jobsite safety
Because many jobsites are expansive, welding may take place hundreds of feet from the power source. Remote control welding technologies offer welding operators the ability to make critical process changes and parameter adjustments at the weld joint versus at the power source, thereby eliminating the need to navigate cluttered jobsites 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 operators to alternate between welding processes remotely by the push of a button.
Spend more time welding
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 jobsite. 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 also instilling remote welding capabilities into the welding process to improve safety.
Remote control technologies give the operator the ability to change weld parameters at the weld joint with a touch of a button, as well as the ability to change weld processes. Welding operators simply connect the power source with a compatible, technology-enabled 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.
Wire feeders with these remote technologies extend the distance from the work 200 feet or more 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 control 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. It is available on select Trailblazer® and Big Blue® engine-driven welders and XMT® 350 FieldPro™ power sources.
And when operations pair ArcReach-enabled accessories with XMT 350 FieldPro offerings from Miller, they get additional technologies — Cable Length Compensation (CLC™) and Adjust While Welding (AWW™) — that make it even easier for operators to adjust parameters at the weld joint so they can do their best work.
CLC 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, 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 XMT 350 FieldPro lineup also includes a polarity reversing model; with the simple push of a button, the XMT 350 FieldPro system with Polarity Reversing automatically selects the correct polarity, lead outputs and weld parameters. This prevents operators from inadvertently welding in the wrong polarity, reducing the risk of weld rework that results from incorrect cable connection. Quick process changeover also eliminates the set-up time spent switching cables and gas hoses. In addition, the system’s optimized stick and TIG arc performance is specifically designed for open root pipe welding — including process pipe and modular assembly applications — to help improve weld quality.
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 welders — 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.
Control in the palm of your hand
An untethered option for point-of-use control is Wireless Interface Control from Miller. This remote provides full control of the machine’s front panel in the operator’s hand; welders can make adjustments and change processes at the point of work without walking back to the power source. Wireless Interface Control — optional on Trailblazer 325 and Big Blue enginee-driven welders — also enables operators to turn the machine on and off remotely.
With Wireless Interface Control, operators can remotely adjust amperage and voltage, customize welding programs, select processes and fine-tune the welding arc to tailor arc responsiveness to better handle changing joint conditions. This total control at the point of work improves productivity and reduces downtime to elevate performance.
Making the decision
Deciding between remote control technologies depends largely on the welding processes needed for a given application; but no matter the application, remote control technologies offer the same benefit: improved 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 jobsite.