Team Industries has reduced rework and improved training for critical pipe welding
“Fabricated right the first time” is a Team Industries pledge to customers. Since starting in 1987, the company has grown in capabilities and size and now has three locations in Wisconsin and Texas to serve industries including petrochemical, power generation, refining, agrichemical and mining.
Team aspired to become an industry leader in delivering high-quality pipe and tank fabrication on-time and within budget. So the company established a one-stop shop process to set Team apart and to meet customer demands. The list of capabilities that Team provides includes materials purchasing, receiving and storage; in-house engineering; pipe and tank fabrication; welded supports; heat treatment; blasting and coating; painting and finishing; and in-house NDE testing. A recently completed expansion at its Kaukauna, Wisconsin, headquarters increased total fabrication space to 473,000 square feet, allowed for the addition of more services and helped optimize workflow. For Team, the key is to outperform customer expectations.
“In the field is where Team gets evaluated on what’s been delivered, because it fits the first time,” says Jon Viestenz, business development for Team Industries. “For customers, that means a great deal because it keeps the cost down on the overall project.”
Two key factors in Team’s success are a skilled workforce and advanced technology and equipment. Team uses welding equipment from Miller Electric Mfg. Co. in all of its pipe shops — Kaukauna, Oconto Falls, Wisconsin, and Port Arthur, Texas — to help ensure that all finished products conform to customer requirements.
“Technological advancements are a must, whether it’s your welding equipment, your software systems, your tracking systems,” Viestenz says. “Really, today our customers expect that.”
Deadline-driven, without sacrificing quality
In the critical industries Team serves, meeting customer demands for on-time delivery without sacrificing quality is important. With over 200 welding operators company-wide and a volume of work that can range from 50 to 70 jobs at a time, Team has capacity at its three shops to produce up to 6,500 spools per month combining large and small bore.
Given the shortage of welding operators in the industry, Team focuses on training and retaining skilled welding operators. The company designed an apprentice program that is conducted with Local UA400 at its Wisconsin locations and that Team runs in-house at its Port Arthur shop. The program develops a talented labor pool dedicated to pipe and pressure vessel fabrication, with training in TIG, MIG, flux-cored and stick welding on materials such as stainless, carbon and chromoly steels.
“If you’re going to be a fabricator serving the industries we serve, you need to prove yourself from the talent of your workforce and what it is you’ve invested in for the future,” Viestenz says.
The quality requirements combined with the need to get trained welders on the job quickly plays a role in the equipment that Team Industries chooses. The company relies on Miller welding equipment in its pipe shops and often tests, evaluates and helps develop new products and technologies for the manufacturer. Team has standardized its welding booths with the Miller® PipeWorx 400 welding system. The multiprocess machine fits the company’s varied welding requirements.
“I keep going back to the efficiencies of it and how easy it is to train a new welder,” says Jim VanZeeland, shop superintendent. “It’s just been a great machine for us.”
Team has been able to reduce rework — saving time and money — due to the system’s ease of use and consistent arc quality.
“We have seen a decrease in X-ray failure. The consistency of the arc definitely plays a role in that,” VanZeeland says.
Training and retaining welders
Equipment that is easy to use also plays an important role in training and retaining skilled welding operators for Team.
“With the lack of welders out there today, it is critical to get people up to speed, get them welding and productive, to get our product out the door to meet demands,” VanZeeland says.
The PipeWorx system offers easy setup, an intuitive front panel and push-button process changeover — making it easier and faster for Team to get welders trained and on the job.
“They have enough things to learn already, like techniques and torch angle,” says Mike Schmidt, vice president of manufacturing. “Having a super machine is one less thing they have to worry about. The quicker we can get people to pass X-ray the better it is for us, and the PipeWorx really helps us do that.”
Users can simply push a button to select the welding process, and the machine automatically selects the welding process along with the correct polarity, cable outputs and welding parameters. The system also changes the shielding gas required.
“Coming into this, I’d never turned a welder on,” says Jerica Bohman, a welder in Team’s apprentice program. “After my first class I had it figured out. It’s definitely nice to have good equipment because it makes it not as scary to be doing something you’ve never done before.”
Eliminating the need to manually switch polarity or cables and hoses between processes helps new welders hit the ground running. Consistent arc quality also helps as they learn to control the arc and the puddle.
“Everything about this machine is just easier,” says Dwayne Tremaine, a Team fabricator who also helps with training. “Simplicity is the key word.”
That simplicity also provides productivity and efficiency benefits for Team. After a TIG root pass, fabricators can switch to flux-cored for the remaining passes with the push of a button — no need to change cables or gas lines.
“I can hit the pedal and be on to a different process immediately,” Tremaine says.
The ability for each welding operator to save their process parameters on a memory card also saves time, because they can quickly access their settings when they switch booths or start a shift.
“It’s like you never left your booth; all your settings are identical,” Tremaine says. “It’s a huge timesaver.”
Team Industries also finds efficiency and productivity benefits in its heat treatment processes with the Miller ProHeat™ 35 induction heating system. Customer specifications often require an electric preheat. Team wanted a quick and easy solution that would also eliminate some of the safety concerns associated with open flame heating.
“The ProHeat helps our productivity by bringing the piece up to temperature much quicker,” Schmidt says. “Also, the consistency of the heat is very uniform across the pipe, so we don’t get the hotspots you can get with flame.”
Technology tracks weld data
As part of Team’s commitment to providing a full-service, one-stop fabrication shop for its customers — from receiving and inspecting raw materials through delivery of the final product in the field — the company invests in technology that provides traceability for every pipe-fabrication project.
“Materials are traceable from the day we receive them,” Viestenz says. “We can report back to the customer about what’s happening on a daily basis with their investment.”
Team uses the new Insight™ Pipe and Vessel welding intelligence solution in conjunction with the PipeWorx 400. The system tracks and records welding parameters for each weld joint, providing valuable productivity and quality data.
“The benefits are tremendous,” Viestenz says. “It just helps Team Industries stay on the cutting edge of what customers expect from a reporting standpoint.”
Insight Pipe and Vessel provides information on any out-of-parameter welds — and the operators creating them ― to help prevent weld defects by alerting them to areas or issues to be corrected. It also helps Team transition from a paper tracking process to a more efficient and accurate electronic one. The flexible design offers ERP integration so fabricators can import and export jobs in a generic file format, and it can be easily integrated with existing software programs. An electronic system also reduces the time spent on data entry and possible errors associated with manual weld data collection.
“Customers would like to have every weld, all of the specifics all batched up,” Schmidt says. “Insight allows us to gather that information very quickly and easily. That is a very big plus for us.”
Investments for the future
Positioning the company to best serve customers into the future is a daily focus for Team Industries. The company is always looking toward tomorrow, with an emphasis on making Team a full-service, one-stop shop that goes beyond quality fabrication.
“That vision future-proofs Team Industries, setting us apart from where our competitors are,” Viestenz says. “Those investments in people and technology are what keep Team on the forefront of what our customers are asking for.”