Using real-time welding data
Many manufacturers want to increase time spent welding. Advanced welding information management systems can help reach that goal. They provide the ability to analyze and reduce downtime, improve quality and evaluate non-welding activities.
Using data from these systems, companies can find greater efficiencies and produce more parts in less time.
But when seeking to improve any welding operation, be careful not to sacrifice quality for productivity. 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.
These advanced 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.
Increasing 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 filler metals and deposition rates (e.g., wire feed speeds). 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, now available on Deltaweld® systems, can help operations improve arc-on time, throughput and quality.
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 enable fabricators to document all pre- and post-weld activities taking place to ensure operators complete each one. Analysis of these steps and the time it takes to perform each one enables managers to remove or streamline activities that are unnecessary or creating excessive burden to the fabrication process.
Management can determine if the time being spent is reasonable or if there is room for improvement. In some cases, it may be upstream, such as an excessive amount of time spent addressing tolerance and part fit-up 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.
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.
Skilled welders do not need to perform every task. Rather than having a welder grind and prepare parts for painting — which could result in less arc-on time — another employee could complete this task. This frees up valuable welding time for multiple welders.
Welders can also use advanced systems to indicate when consumable changeovers happen. If you are replacing consumables too often, switching to a higher-quality, longer-lasting product may be more cost-effective and contribute to greater arc-on time. If consumable changeovers happen too infrequently, an increase in unplanned downtime is likely — negatively impacting productivity.
3. Analyze and validate productivity metrics
Monitoring wire feed speeds and deposition rates provides insights into how adjusting parameters might yield better results, while ensuring operators stay within the required WPS parameters.
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. It can also compare cycle times to precisely monitor productivity gains after a filler metal change.
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.
The system alerts operators if they miss a weld or if it is outside of acceptable parameters so they can correct the problem cost-effectively. It can also reduce training time, 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, before a part leaves the original weld cell for secondary weld subassembly, paint, final assembly, or delivery to a customer.
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. This allows managers and owners to optimize the entire process and confirm that their efforts are saving money and time.