Versatile Engine-Driven Welder Help Team Elmer's Do It All | MillerWelds

Versatile Engine-Driven Solution Helps Team Elmer's "Do It All"

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Trailblazer® 302 Air Pak™ engine-driven welder provides four tools in one, saves space on work trucks

Trailblazer® 302 Air Pak™ Engine-Driven Welder 

The motto at Team Elmer’s is “building better communities.” Commercial/residential asphalt installation, excavation, concrete ready-mix supply, crane and rigging operations, earth moving, land clearing, and road paving are just a few of the operations the full-service contractor takes on.

Based in Traverse City, Michigan, Team Elmer’s began as a one-man shop in 1956 with one crane for digging conservation ponds. Today, the family-owned operation has nearly 450 employees with 10 concrete locations and several aggregate operations around the state. Their customers throughout northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula include government entities, shopping centers, grocery stores, schools and even residents who want topsoil delivered or a driveway paved.

“We do a little bit of everything, from driveways to highway work,” says President Troy Broad. “We’re all about servicing the customers. We have a lot of repeat customers because of that. Word of mouth is still a great advertising tool for us because we work to keep customers happy.”

With a variety of projects both big and small — some driven by tight deadlines or emergency repairs — plus large-scale equipment, the fast-paced, varied nature of the work requires durable, versatile tools and solutions. To meet repair and service needs in the field, the contractor relies on Trailblazer 302 Air Pak engine-driven welder from Miller.

With Trailblazer 302 Air Pak units on several of their service trucks, Team Elmer’s gets one field solution that provides multiprocess welding capabilities, 13,000-watt auxiliary power, 31 cfm rotary screw air compressor and a 12/24-volt battery charger/jump-starter.

“It’s amazing what comes out of that little unit,” Broad says. “Compared to what we had before, just the amount of power with both the air compressor and the welder was night and day.”

All-in-one solution saves space

With hundreds of pieces of equipment to maintain and repair — from large cranes and concrete trucks to graders and milling equipment — the company’s crew includes shop and field mechanics and full-time welders. Team Elmer’s does most of its repair, maintenance and equipment rebuilding in-house, along with building new equipment from scratch such as trailers, crusher frames and conveyors.

The solution the company previously used on its trucks did not meet the requirements of the many jobs to be done. A switch to the Trailblazer 302 Air Pak engine-driven welder on three service trucks provided the power and air capacity necessary — all while saving space and weight.

“It seemed like all the units that we’ve tried before just did not have the power and air we required. You really needed two individual units,” Broad says. “This unit supplied what we needed and was compact enough. This combination, along with the weight reduction and the space savings, was huge for us.”

The Trailblazer takes half the bed space of a separate engine-driven air compressor and welder, freeing up room for equipment and supplies. Also, the unit is lighter than the company’s previous solution. This provides payload advantages that help Team Elmer’s easily pass truck gross vehicle weight ratings.

Saving weight and space is also important because Team Elmer’s uses slightly smaller trucks to save mileage in the remote areas they serve. Any extra truck space and weight can be used for tools or supplies needed for emergencies and the varied jobs field mechanics encounter. These jobs can include repairing a hydraulic system, changing a tire on a concrete truck, welding in the field or jump-starting a crane.

“You’ve got to be able to have everything on hand, to make sure the job’s done at the end of the day,” says Chase Bates, field mechanic.

Critical air compressor needs

Compressed air is one of the most critical assets on Team Elmer’s field mechanic trucks. The Trailblazer unit’s rotary-screw compressor delivers 31 cfm at 80 to 160 psi of air at 100 percent duty cycle. High compressor output eliminates the need for a reservoir tank or the time necessary for the tank to refill.

“It seemed like we were always waiting for the air to regenerate on the other systems, or there just wasn’t quite enough when you started getting in the larger jobs,” Broad says.

The unit’s air compressor has the power to run air tools, including the large 1-inch air guns that mechanics use to inflate tires.

“You never run out of air. It’s there on demand as you need it,” says Tom Sampier, a field mechanic. “It’s more than enough for our 1-inch guns, which is the most demanding air tool that we use.”

The ability to have enough air on demand — without having to wait for the unit to recharge — is especially important in critical situations when time is of the essence, such as a full concrete mixer truck having a blown tire on the side of the road.

“You’ve got a certain amount of time from when that truck is loaded to the time it gets to the jobsite,” Sampier says. “It’s pretty critical on the time factor before the concrete starts going bad. And that’s what’s really nice with the Trailblazer. I can get there, get out my air jacks, never run out of air, run my 1-inch gun, get the tire off, changed, back on and get the driver going.”

Reliable welding performance

A Team Elmer’s repair or project in the field may call for stick welding, so mechanics also rely on the Trailblazer 302 Air Pak for any welding needs. Frequent welding projects involve welding on 1/2-inch to 1-inch-thick plate.

Mechanics can choose from four preset settings for stick welding, to make the arc softer or more stiff depending on electrode type and operator preference. The unit also provides easy arc starts for stick welding. This is important for mechanics in the field who need reliable performance to get a job done so they can move on to the next task.

“It does a great job of being able to close the gap at either end of the spectrum,” Bates says. “It’s ready when you’re ready and you’re not fighting with it.”

In addition, the engine-driven welder provides 13,000 watts of peak auxiliary power independent of the machine’s weld windings, so mechanics can use the unit to run lights and tools such as grinders even when they’re welding.

“I may have one job I need two different tools for, and I can throw my air grinder on one line and pull an extension cord out with another. It’s so much more efficient, time-wise,” Bates says. “You can get the job done a little quicker.”

Ditch the battery box

Team Elmer’s is a year-round operation. With a sizable fleet of large equipment, it’s not uncommon for a piece of equipment to need a jump-start, especially during the harsh winter months in Michigan.

The Trailblazer unit has a selectable 12/24-volt battery charging capability that provides up to 450 amps for jump-starting.

“We do a lot of plowing during the winter. Sometimes you show up at 4 in the morning and your loader won’t start. You’ve got snow flying and it’s 30 below,” Bates says. “The Trailblazer 302 Air Pak doesn’t skip a beat.”

Eliminating the need to carry a separate battery box for jump-starts in the field is another factor that helps mechanics save space on their trucks.

“The integrated jump-start is a really nice feature,” Sampier says. “Not having a separate battery box frees up space on the truck for other jobsite tools. It takes up a lot less space.”

Spend less time filling up

The machine's fuel efficiency means mechanics can spend more time focused on repairs and less time filling up the tank.

“I definitely don’t have to worry about filling it up halfway through the day,” Bates says. “I can run six or eight hours and I still have half a tank or so left at the end of the day.”

Reliable tool for most any job

Field mechanics with Team Elmer’s never know what their day might bring. Emergency repairs and time-sensitive projects are all in the nature of their work, and getting it done quickly helps keep customers happy.

Reliable tools and equipment help the company’s mechanics meet whatever jobs they encounter in the field. The Trailblazer 302 Air Pak engine-driven welder is an all-in-one solution that provides air, welding, auxiliary power and battery charge/jump-starts — all while reducing space and weight on the company’s trucks.

“It’s everything you need and more,” Bates says. “You don’t have to worry about, well, do I have my battery box, do I have gas in my air compressor, do I have gas in my welder? Every question you have for it, it answers.”

After evaluating Trailblazers on several trucks, Team Elmer’s has plans to invest in additional units across the fleet.

“You’re still only as good as your last job, so you have to keep performing, and our crews continue to do that and keep raising the bar,” Broad says. “It’s been a great tool for us in getting our service work done and keeping our customers happy.”