How Can Data Increase Arc-On Time in a Welding Operation?

How Can Data Increase Arc-On Time in a Welding Operation?

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Manufacturers can boost throughput, reduce downtime and ensure quality with advanced welding information management systems.
Welder welding
closeup of welder MIG welding

Using real-time welding data

Many manufacturers want to increase time spent welding. Advanced welding information management systems can help in reaching that goal — providing the ability to analyze and reduce downtime, improve quality and evaluate non-welding activities.

Using data from these systems, companies can find greater efficiencies in the welding operation and produce more parts in less time.

But when seeking to improve any welding operation, the pursuit for greater throughput should not be separated from the drive to improve quality. Producing more parts per day is only beneficial if those parts are well-made.

Advanced welding information management systems support both goals by providing owners and management with real-time data that empowers them to evaluate their welding operations and drive continuous improvement.

What is a welding information management system?

Advanced welding information management systems carefully track and measure:

  • Arc-on time
  • Welding deposition rates
  • Throughput
  • Cycle time
  • Value- and non-value-added activities

 

These solutions provide real-time operator guidance and feedback in the weld cell to help prevent missed welds and ensure proper weld sequences and consistent weld quality.

Finding ways to increase arc-on time is valuable, but there is more to improving throughput than just spending more time welding. The ability to analyze and reduce downtime and to optimize and evaluate non-welding activities is also essential to maintaining increased levels of productivity.

Companies can also use these systems to assess the effectiveness of their choice in filler metal and deposition rates (e.g., wire feed speeds) to ensure welders are as efficient and productive as possible. In other words, they can examine whether welders are using optimal travel speeds, while also minimizing over- or under-welding conditions, which helps keep costs down.

Here are four ways advanced systems like Miller® Insight Centerpoint™ arc data monitoring software can help operations improve arc-on time, throughput and quality.

No. 1: Identify pre- and post-weld activities for improvement

To increase arc-on time and throughput, there must first be efficient pre- and post-welding processes in place. Although certain activities are essential, they can still be streamlined.

Advanced welding intelligence systems help identify what pre- and post-weld activities are taking place and which activities should or should not be occurring.

Management can determine if the time being spent is reasonable or if there is room for improvement. In some cases, it may be upstream in the operation, such as an excessive amount of time spent addressing tolerance issues. In other cases, it may be downstream activities such as grinding, packaging or the next step in the manufacturing process that are experiencing backups and causing excessive work in progress.

With data, steps can be taken to address issues prior to a part reaching the welding operation.

No. 2: Understand what’s happening in the weld cell

It’s critical to understand what’s happening in the weld cell when the operator isn’t actually welding. In many cases, arc-on time is much lower than expected.

These systems can gather input on every activity taking place and determine whether it can be addressed more efficiently elsewhere.

Not every task needs to be performed by a skilled welder. Rather than having a welder grind and prepare parts for painting — which could result in less arc-on time — another employee could be assigned to this task, freeing up valuable welding time for multiple welders.

Welders can also use advanced systems to indicate when consumable changeovers happen. If consumables are being replaced too often, switching to a higher-quality, longer-lasting product may be more cost-effective and contribute to greater arc-on time.

No. 3: Analyze and validate productivity metrics

Monitoring wire feed speeds and deposition rates provides insights into how adjusting parameters might yield better results.

Welding intelligence systems can provide a baseline against which to measure and track improvements. And managers can track in real time if changes are actually yielding benefits.

For example, a system can track deposition rates to help determine how much more efficient a welding operation could be using a different filler metal — and compare cycle times to precisely monitor productivity gains after a filler metal change.

No. 4: Ensure proper parameters are set and followed

Weld data can help companies improve the overall quality of their products by ensuring welders follow proper standards and guidelines.

These systems can monitor and help control heat input, reduce distortion and minimize over- or under-welding conditions by tracking weld duration and deposition. As a result, they can help reduce labor costs and filler metal waste and improve throughput.

Operators are alerted if a weld is missed or is outside of acceptable parameters so they can correct the problem cost-effectively. Training time can also be reduced, as the system guides welders through the weld sequence in real time. In addition, advanced systems can provide containment of defects and control the weld operation by monitoring every parameter of every weld.  

This provides immediate quality control and allows errors to be correctly quickly.

Boosting the bottom line

In addition to uncovering ways to improve arc-on time and throughput, advanced welding information management systems can track costs — creating detailed reports on part counts, arc-on time, equipment efficiency and more. This data helps manufacturers make decisions about how to improve their process, reduce costs and drive continuous improvement.

The bottom line: Welding intelligence systems provide a way to analyze the bigger picture within the welding operation, so managers and owners can optimize the entire process and confirm that their efforts are saving money and time.

Published: December 17, 2015
Updated: September 16, 2020