Weld Data Monitoring Solutions Help Pipe Shops Drive Improvements
February 12, 2016
Focusing on equipment, process and consumables solutions that offer ease of use, enhanced productivity and improved performance can help address the labor and timeline challenges facing many pipe welding operations today. Adapting to new technologies and processes can separate the profitable from the unprofitable. These advancements help companies address critical industry challenges such as the shortage of skilled welders, shorter project turnaround times and the need to increase quality standards.
Pipe fabrication shops are always looking for ways to boost productivity and efficiency to differentiate themselves — without negatively impacting the rigorous weld quality requirements the shops must meet.
In addition to these challenges, many pipe shops face increasing pressure from clients to track and document weld quality and other factors based on customer specifications.
As data monitoring becomes a growing customer expectation, there are technologies available that can help pipe shops track and measure productivity, quality and other data. Weld data monitoring systems that are designed specifically for pipe fabrication can help shops ensure they are meeting the codes and standards necessary for pipe welding applications — as well as client expectations.
Solutions designed for pipe
Weld data monitoring solutions new to the market address the unique needs of pipe fabricators and make tracking key metrics easy and efficient. These solutions allow individual joints to be documented by recording welding parameters and attaching those parameters to a contract, spool and joint being fabricated as it flows through a shop. This helps drive continuous improvement efforts without requiring the welding operator to spend non-productive time inputting data.
Gathering welding parameter information for each individual joint allows pipe shops to efficiently track productivity and quality metrics that are crucial in pipe welding applications. Shops can easily see information on any out-of-parameter welds to help prevent defects or correct specific issues.
This streamlined data collection and documentation improves the quality control process for pipe shops — for total traceability of welding parameters and reportability to clients.
Real-time data collection
One of the biggest benefits of these systems is the ability for pipe fabricators to monitor progress and production in real time, since the systems collect welding information as welds are completed.
Previously, manual data collection meant a piece of paper had to travel with the spool joint through the shop and on through the process of weld testing. Information was recorded by hand on the paper along the way.
Now that the tracking process is electronic, pipe shops can get instant visibility to factors such as arc-on time and any instances when a weld fails to meet established thresholds for amps and volts, for example. This improved, real-time insight is especially useful when change orders happen on a job, since it makes knowing whether or not a specific part has been welded much easier and more efficient to track.
The ability to track individual joints through the welding process is also helpful when a customer wants a progress report, since a check of the system will show if a spool has been welded or not.
Some of these systems also provide the ability to import and export jobs in a generic file format, which allows easy integration with existing business software programs a shop may have. This gives users flexibility and more options for gathering additional information.
Reduce errors and save time
Another benefit of replacing manual data collection with an electronic process is reduced chances for potential errors or problems — and a reduction in the time is takes to gather the information.
When information is tracked and entered by hand, it’s a time-consuming process that has the potential for errors due to typos or poor handwriting. When a paper tracking system is used, the paper traveling with or following each joint on the production floor must be sent to the office and entered into a computer database, which introduces the element of human error. Problems can also arise if the handwritten marks on the paper for each weld joint become smeared or damaged during the process on the production floor.
Using a system that collects data electronically directly from the weld cell eliminates these issues.
Performance and quality improvements
Technology advancements and the options now available in weld data monitoring are providing simple solutions that help pipe shops drive improvement.
Knowing what aspects within the welding operation actually need to change to drive improvement is an important part of helping pipe shops reach their productivity, efficiency and quality goals. Better information going into the system helps drive better business decisions — and better outcomes.
Weld data monitoring solutions provide the ability to easily track performance and quality metrics so shops can implement changes that result in improvements.