Weld Data Monitoring in Manufacturing [Guide] | MillerWelds

Weld Data Monitoring in Manufacturing [Guide]

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A weld data monitoring system can help operations get more done, produce higher-quality welds and control costs.
An operator welds while a screen in the background shows real-time guidance
Operator grinds a weld with post-weld instructions on a screen

Welding productivity and quality

Do your manufacturing operation’s goals include improving productivity, reducing weld defects or controlling costs?

A weld data monitoring system can provide the insight to drive improvements and achieve the results you want. Your operation can get more done, produce higher-quality welds and control costs that may be hindering growth.

With data monitoring, operations can:

  • Maximize throughput
  • Eliminate bottlenecks
  • Reduce rework

Get answers about when an operation should consider a data monitoring solution, the benefits of these systems, and tips for how to implement a data monitoring system to achieve optimal results.

Weld data monitoring basics 

Data monitoring can be used for robotic and semi-automatic welding systems to identify and solve welding-related problems. Systems track key metrics within individual weld cells and across the entire welding operation.

These systems offer several key benefits, including:

  • The ability to separate fact from fiction, enabling management to evaluate real shop-floor data, not just opinions about the welding operation
  • Accurate, automated, near-real-time data collection (via wired or wireless Ethernet connections), as opposed to periodic and time-consuming manual collection
  • Productivity metrics, like arc-on time and total deposition
  • The opportunity to identify potential operator training needs
  • The identification of potential problems, such as out-of-threshold welds
  • A benchmark for measuring the impact of continuous improvement initiatives

When should a company invest in weld data monitoring?

Collecting data manually is time-consuming, adding delays to any corrective actions that are identified as important. It can also be prone to errors. Manually collected weld data also needs to be compiled, interpreted and analyzed before decisions can be made. Investing in a data monitoring system can eliminate these issues and offer a faster, more accurate solution for collecting data and turning it into actionable information.

As with any technology investment, the decision to purchase a data monitoring solution should be made with careful consideration. It’s important to first consider the goals of the operation and what key performance indicators you want to measure.

Applications for basic monitoring

  • Visibility into the operation and a tool to measure productivity
  • Validation of the effects of changes in wire, gas blends or other consumable changes

Applications for more advanced monitoring

  • Delivers value in smaller welding cells where operators can easily view and interact with a stationary screen display. Larger bay manufacturing environments would require additional considerations.
  • Provides guidance and control within the weld cell to ensure consistent weld quality, in addition to standard productivity metrics.
See how weld data monitoring fits into a digitized operation.

Weld data monitoring options 

When it’s time to choose a solution, there are several options available, ranging from basic to more advanced. 

Insight Core™ weld data monitoring

Insight Core is a cloud-based weld data management solution. It is designed to monitor and report welding productivity with a goal of improving arc-on time and filler metal deposition rates. Think of Insight Core as a manager's tool for passive monitoring of a welding operation.

Insight Core allows you to:

  • Measure welding productivity. Operations can see each welder’s arc-on time, which can be used to set baselines, plan improvements and measure progress toward goals.

Screenshot of Insight Core Operator Arc on time comparison

  • View easy-to-understand reports. Data that’s hard to analyze can hide important facts about your welding operation. Insight Core dashboards allow operations to identify important trends and develop reports with data that can be analyzed for action. Use the data to evaluate comparisons between operators, weld cells, and physical plant locations. Core can report these trends by day, week, month, shift and more.

Screenshot of Insight Core Amperage histogram

  • Identify welding costs. Not knowing true welding costs keeps operations from realizing where costs can be lowered. Insight Core helps you identify the costs in the welding operation, so you can make improvements that reduce expenses.

Screenshot of Data to Dollars

  • Install and use easily. Insight Core only requires an internet connection to gather data. Secure data is viewable from anywhere on any web-connected device.

Multiple levels of customizable dashboards provide an at-a-glance view of performance. The system provides vital facts about the machines in operation, including:

  • Amperage and volts
  • Arc-on time and arc starts
  • Weld deposition amounts

In addition to helping identify and track production goals as part of continuous improvement initiatives, the dashboards can collectively help companies assess their costs. They provide information to determine true welding costs, identify areas where costs could be reduced and track the outcome of cost-reduction efforts.

With powerful reporting tools that allow customized views of each of these dashboards, it’s easier for leadership to analyze the company’s productivity and goal metrics in a way that is the most intuitive to them.

Watch this video to learn more about the benefits of Insight Core technology. 

Insight Centerpoint™ weld data monitoring

This solution provides welding operations with a real-time solution that guides welders through weld sequences, reducing training time and missed welds. 

Insight Centerpoint is integrated into Miller Continuum™  and Deltaweld® power systems. It is an on-premises application that can integrate with enterprise IIoT solutions and scale to meet and operations needs. 

Insight Centerpoint allows you to:

  • Reduce training time. A complex weld sequence can require a lot of training time. Insight Centerpoint helps reduce training time by guiding welders through a weld sequence in real time. It also prompts operators to perform pre- and post-weld activities required to build the part.

Screenshot of Insight Centerpoint part tracking

  • Ensure quality welds. Out-of-parameter welds create rework if they aren’t captured early in the weld cycle. Insight Centerpoint can monitor every parameter of every weld, which helps operations contain weld defects early and provides more control of the weld operation.

Screenshot of Insight Centerpoint weld reports historical data

  • Reduce costs. Missed or defective welds that aren’t detected early in the process are more costly to fix later. Insight Centerpoint alerts welders if a weld is missed or if a weld is outside of acceptable parameters, allowing it to be corrected more efficiently and cost-effectively.

Screenshot of Insight Centerpoint

  • Remotely configure content. A user of an engineering station hosting Centerpoint can create and validate part configuration remotely and off line prior to plant floor deployment.

Watch this video to learn more about the benefits of Insight Centerpoint weld data monitoring. 

How to choose

Some operations only want basic productivity data while some need advanced process control. In choosing the right solution, it's important to think about installation requirements, the key performance indicators you want to measure and the level of control and feedback desired. This comparison chart is helpful in comparing Insight Core and Insight Centerpoint in many respects. 

In addition, this ROI calculator can show you how the two solutions would pay off in your operation. 

Tips for optimizing data monitoring systems

To gain the optimal results when using these systems, consider some important do's and don'ts for implementing them. It’s important to manage your expectations since data monitoring is not a silver bullet for every challenge in your welding operation.

Insight Core tips:

  • Capture a good baseline of data with your ultimate goal in mind before making any adjustments to your operation.
  • Don’t assume that the weld station is always responsible for throughput since there are upstream and downstream dependencies that also impact your welding efficiency.
  • Sometimes a counter-intuitive approach will yield better results. For instance, separating tacking from welding can result in greater throughput because the skilled welder spends more time welding and less time on part fit up.

Insight Centerpoint tips:

  • Don’t try to tackle your part with the highest weld count right away. That way you can learn how the application will best suit your operation before tackling complex parts.
  • If after a successful trial you decide to implement the solution plant-wide, select a technical champion who will be responsible for part configuration and adapting the software for your needs. This person does not need to have an engineering background or title.
  • Don’t begin with the maximum control capabilities of Insight Centerpoint. Instead, start with simple guidance or work instructions and build from there as needed. Use a laddered approach to build upon successes.

Read this article for some additional do’s and don’ts of optimizing your data monitoring systems to help ensure success.

Data monitoring solutions for welding

Many manufacturing operations can benefit from investing in a data monitoring solution. These technologies can deliver results through reduced costs and rework, increased throughput and faster welder training. Contact Miller to get more information about Insight Welding Intelligence solutions and how they can help your operation make improvements.