Solutions for Gaining Production Efficiency in Pipe Welding
Evolving technologies provide opportunities to increase productivity and maximize efficiency in pipe fabrication and field welding operations.
Faster pipe fabrication and field welding
Finding ways to increase productivity, maximize efficiency and reduce costs can help pipe welding operations improve project timelines and be more competitive. This is especially important as the industry faces an ongoing welding operator shortage.
Evolving technologies can help increase productivity and maximize efficiency in pipe welding operations — in the field and in the shop. These solutions include more productive advanced welding processes, filler metals formulated to better meet specific needs and welding equipment designed for ease of use and improved productivity.
Pipe welding operations can take advantage of these advancements to complete projects faster and do more with the resources they have, resulting in improved productivity and reduced operating costs.
Welding technologies on the market can help improve productivity, quality and safety, all while offering ease of use for operators. Labor is one of the largest costs associated with producing a weld — nearly 80% of a field welding project is labor. This means implementing easy-to-use technologies that improve productivity can help an operation reduce costs.
Advanced remote control capabilities and point-of-use welding controls can reduce the need to travel to and from the power source. This optimizes arc-on time, reduces setup time and simplifies process changeover — helping improve overall weld quality and productivity.
The Miller PipeWorx FieldPro™ system offers these advanced capabilities and technologies without the need for special control cables, instead using the standard weld cable. This eliminates the hassle and expense of special control cables and reduces clutter. The system offers a remote that brings front panel capabilities right to the weld joint. This makes process changeover easier, eliminating the need to “get by” with less than optimal settings — thereby reducing weld defects and associated rework.
The system also allows operations to create welding programs — specifically designed for welding pipe — in all welding processes.
Technologies are also available specifically for the shop environment, offering productivity, quality and safety benefits for pipe fabrication. Rolling induction heating, available for preheating rolled pipe in a shop environment, leverages the benefits of rolled pipe welding while also addressing some of the concerns associated with other heating methods. Induction heating can bring the part to temperature quickly and hold the machine at a steady output, making it a good option for getting consistent temperature levels.
Optimizing the process
Many factors come into play when choosing the appropriate welding process: the application, position of the weld, material type, welding procedure and possible job or contract requirements. With all the welding processes, selecting the right consumables and equipment can help optimize the arc for the best results.
While TIG and stick welding are familiar processes in the field, wire welding processes can offer significant productivity benefits.
Switching to advanced welding processes, such as pulsed MIG or modified short-circuit MIG, is another way operations can improve productivity. These processes offer a more forgiving weld to help reduce weld failures. They can also reduce the necessary training time and make it easier for a welding operator to complete an X-ray quality weld on the root pass.
Using a modified short-circuit MIG process for the root pass offers the potential to eliminate the hot pass. This process (such as RMD®, or Regulated Metal Deposition) provides the ability to create a thicker root pass of 3/16 inch or greater. This is enough to support the heat input of pulsed MIG or flux-cored welding for the fill pass.
The faster travel speeds and higher deposition rates offered by these processes allow welders to complete code-quality welds in less time. For example, a 24-inch Schedule 160 pipe might take two days to stick weld with two operators. But with advanced welding processes, it can be completed in nine hours or less with one welding operator.
These advanced welding processes are available in systems with remote control technologies. Welding operators can maximize productivity with a faster process and the ability to change processes and parameters at the weld joint with the push of a button.
Addressing the challenges
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.