The Value of Welding Consumables Trials
In both semi-automatic and automated welding cells, the upfront cost of welding consumables is low compared to the overall expense for equipment, materials and labor. Yet when companies accrue downtime for excessive welding contact tip changeover or troubleshooting poor wire feeding associated with liner issues, costs can quickly compound.
At times, companies may try to mitigate consumable problems without a true sense of the root cause, implementing a solution without data to back up the decision. However, conducting a welding consumables trial can provide insight into whether an operation is using the best consumables for the application.
Welding contact tips are the baseline for these trials since they are the most frequently changed consumable. Nozzles and diffusers that are compatible with the contact tip are included in a trial but not monitored in the same way since they last much longer.
This article has been published as an exclusive with The Fabricator. To read the entire article, please click here.
Understanding the Impact of Time Sinks in Robotic Welding
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
No robotic welding cell operates at 100% capacity. Parts handling, fixturing, periodic rework and even employee breaks all affect a robot’s ability to be completely efficient. However, there are common time sinks that can further hinder productivity — and they can easily lead to increased costs and lower quality.
Time sinks are activities that consume a lot of time for little benefit. So why do these happen? It could be a lack of training or lack of skilled labor. Or it could be simply out of habit; some activities may fall into the “we’ve always done it this way” category.
The key is to take steps to rectify these issues quickly, as they can easily escalate. That is especially true on large production lines. If one robot has an issue, it may result in having to stop an entire line of robots to solve the problem, compounding downtime.
Streamlining the process
Downtime for certain activities in a robotic weld cell is unavoidable, but they become time sinks when they aren’t streamlined. Welding contact tip changeover is a prime example.
While regular changeover is imperative to producing quality parts, it is not uncommon for operators to replace a contact tip before it is necessary. It can become a habit to change the tip every few hours, during breaks and before and after shifts without truly knowing whether there is still life left in the consumable. This frequency interrupts production, resulting in fewer parts being made and increased costs for the tip itself.
Conducting a time study to determine the true life of a contact tip — from installation to the point of failure — can help companies avoid excessive changeover and costs. The study may be time-consuming initially, but it can be conducted in one robotic welding cell to establish a baseline and then applied to similar cells.
It’s also recommended to try different types of contact tips to ensure that the best option is in place. For example, pulsed MIG welding applications are especially harsh on tips, so it’s essential to have an option for that waveform, like the AccuLock™ HDP contact tips, to extend product life. There is a higher upfront cost for these tips, but also a significant increase in productivity and throughput due to significantly less-frequent changeover.
Reaming too often can also become a time sink in a robotic welding cell. A nozzle cleaning station (or welding reamer) is necessary to clear spatter from the front-end welding consumables and ensure smooth gas flow, but it’s important to determine the optimal frequency for the application. For example, if a robot completes a 2-inch weld and then spends 10 seconds to ream, spray anti-spatter, nozzle-check and wire-cut, that is likely too often. Instead, it may be possible to weld 10 to 20 parts between reaming cycles. Again, a time study can help determine the appropriate frequency.
Common time sinks and tips for avoiding them
True time sinks may not be immediately obvious and the activities themselves may appear benign, but they can have consequences that result in extra time, labor and costs for welding troubleshooting. Fortunately, there are options to rectify these issues.
1. Poor wire conduit management
Due to the high volume of parts that pass through a robotic welding cell, most companies employ large welding wire drums to minimize changeover of these packages. Poor management of the conduit leading from the drum to the robot can lead to time sinks. If this conduit is too long, has been placed around the corner or snakes and bends along the floor, the wire won’t feed properly. Poor wire feeding can lead to burnbacks that require downtime for welding contact tip changeover. It can also cause the arc to become erratic, which causes quality issues and potential rework. The best way to resolve this issue is to keep the conduit as straight as possible and use the shortest run feasible.
2. Incorrect robot positioning and neck selection
Many large companies, such as tier-one automotive suppliers, measure their efficiency based on available square footage, so placing many robots in an area is common. This helps meet high production goals. However, if a company positions the robot incorrectly in relation to the tooling, it can increase robot articulation and lead to premature cable failure. The same holds true when using the wrong robotic MIG gun neck. While companies often like to standardize on one neck angle throughout the operation, it may not allow the robot to articulate properly to reach the weld joint.
As a best practice, the robot riser should be sized to minimize the amount of joint articulation when accessing the tooling. This reduces stress on the robotic MIG gun and the power cable. Select the appropriate neck angle to achieve the best joint access.
3. Troubleshooting on the line
When something goes wrong in a robotic welding operation, often the first instinct is to try to troubleshoot the issue on the spot. Doing so yields little benefit since it stops production: not just because the robot isn’t working, but also because multiple personnel may be stepping away from their jobs to address the problem. That adds up to unnecessary time and money spent.
A better option is to remove and replace the component causing the trouble, whether it be the robotic MIG gun or a welding reamer. That allows the robot to go back to work producing parts, while maintenance troubleshoots and repairs the equipment issue offline.
4. Overlooking preventive maintenance (PM)
Like troubleshooting on the line, reactive maintenance can be a significant time sink. Addressing unexpected problems keeps the robot from its job of producing parts. Also if something goes wrong within the weld cell because PM wasn’t performed, it can lead to poor quality parts, rework or costly repairs.
Instead, welding supervisors and operators should schedule time to perform preventive maintenance, such as checking connections and visually inspecting consumables for spatter during routine pauses in welding. More time-consuming PM activities, like replacing a gun liner, a robotic MIG gun or cable, or cleaning the robot, can happen between shifts or during other planned downtime.
Making a difference
When there are jobs to be done, it’s easy for companies to focus on moving production along and sending parts out the door. In the process, time sinks can occur that may be overlooked for long periods of time, compounding their severity.
However, pausing to look at the robotic welding operation and setting plans in place can help create efficiencies in the long run. In addition to time studies, conducting a process failure mode analysis (PFMA) can help by considering anything that could go wrong in the robotic welding cell. These situations are then ranked by potential frequency and severity and a plan put in place for addressing them.
It’s also important to remember that changes and improvements aren’t one-time occurrences. They must be monitored regularly and adjusted as needed. Coordinating a continuous improvement team to spearhead the process can help, as can working with a trusted welding equipment or robot manufacturer.
How to Reduce Welding Gun Wear and Extend Gun Life
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Knowing the common causes of MIG gun wear — and how to eliminate them — is a good step toward minimizing downtime and costs for addressing issues.
Like any equipment in a welding operation, MIG guns are subject to routine wear and tear. The environment and the heat from the arc, along with other factors, impact their longevity. When operators follow best practices for their use, however, most quality MIG welding guns can last at least one year in a manufacturing environment. Routine preventive maintenance can also help extend product life.
What causes MIG gun wear?
The welding environment and application can affect MIG gun life. Some of the most common causes of gun wear include:
Extreme temperature fluctuations can affect the condition and expected life of the MIG gun jacket, which is typically a rubber-type composite material. If temperatures fluctuate from high to low, the jacket material will react differently — becoming softer or harder — which eventually leads to wear.
Whether you’re welding inside a facility or on an outdoor jobsite, dirty conditions can introduce abrasives and debris into the MIG gun circuit and consumables. Guns can also be damaged if they are dropped, run over, walked on, or caught in a lift arm or boom. These actions can damage the cable or cause disruption of the shielding gas flow. Welding on or near abrasive surfaces can cause cuts to the gun jacket or cable. It’s not recommended to weld with a MIG gun that has a damaged jacket. Always replace worn, damaged or cracked guns or cables.
Lack of proper maintenance
When dirt and debris build up within the gun liner or on the contact tip, it increases resistance and causes additional heat buildup — the enemy of gun life. A wire feeder that isn’t feeding properly can also cause damage elsewhere in the gun.
A broken handle or noticeable chips or cuts in the gun jacket or cable are common indicators of MIG gun wear. But other signs aren’t always visible.
If a burnback, erratic arc or poor-quality welds are an issue during welding, these could be caused by inconsistent power being delivered to the weld circuit. Worn connections or components in the welding gun can cause these power fluctuations. To avoid downtime and additional wear on the gun, it is important to troubleshoot weld or arc issues and fix them as quickly as possible.
Tips for preventing MIG gun wear
Consider these five tips to help optimize gun performance and longevity.
- Don’t exceed the duty cycle. Manufacturers have the option of rating their guns at 100%, 60% or 35% duty cycle. Duty cycle is the amount of arc-on time within a 10-minute period. Exceeding the gun’s rating can result in excess heat that wears gun components more rapidly and can potentially damage them to the point of failure. If an operator feels the need to increase parameter settings to achieve the same weld they previously completed, this could be a sign that the gun has begun to fail or something is wrong with the weld circuit.
- Use a quality jacket cover. To protect the cable from gashes or sharp objects in the welding environment, use a gun jacket cover made from a material that offers a higher abrasion resistance. Jacket covers are available in various lengths to suit many gun styles and sizes. Be sure to replace the jacket as needed for maximum protection.
- Check consumable connections. Any loose connection in a weld circuit will increase heat and resistance, which in turn will increase wear on the gun and components. When changing consumables, be sure threads are clean and tight. Inspect the gun regularly, tightening any loose connection — whether it’s the diffuser, neck or contact tip. Loose connections inhibit power transfer within the circuit for the weld. It’s also important to check all connections after servicing the gun or changing consumables.
- Properly manage the cable. The best condition for any weld cable and gun is to keep them as straight as possible during use. This provides better wire feeding and power transfer down the length of the gun. Avoid kinking the cable or using a gun and cable that are too long for the space. When the gun isn’t in use, be sure to coil the cable properly. Keep the gun and cable off the floor or ground and out of harm’s way — ideally on a hook or shelf. Keep guns out of heavy traffic areas where they could be run over or damaged. Also, if the gun is on a boom, don’t pull the gun cable to move the boom or cart. This can damage the connections and wear them down faster.
- Conduct preventive maintenance General maintenance and upkeep will help MIG guns perform as expected and prolong gun life. Pay attention to any signs of wear on the gun or consumables. Check all connections each time the gun is used and look for spatter buildup in the nozzle. Troubleshoot any gun or wire feeding issues as soon as possible. Also, be sure to use the correct parts when servicing or repairing a MIG gun. MIG gun manufacturers typically have a parts guide that indicates which parts go into a specific position on the gun. If the wrong parts are used, they will change the way power transfers through the gun as well as affect overall performance. This can increase wear over time.
Optimizing MIG gun life
Getting the most life out of your MIG welding gun involves numerous factors, from proper maintenance and care to using best practices when welding. Keeping an eye on MIG gun wear and changing consumables as necessary can help prolong gun life and deliver better performance for longer.
8 Manufacturing Cost Reduction Strategies for Welding Operations
Cost overruns in a manufacturing welding operation can come from many places. Whether it’s a semi-automatic or robotic weld cell, some common culprits of unnecessary costs are unplanned downtime and lost labor, consumable waste, repairs and rework, and lack of operator training.
Many of these factors are tied together and influence each other. A lack of operator training, for example, can result in more weld defects that require rework and repair. Not only do repairs cost money in additional materials and consumables used, but they also require more labor to do the work and any additional weld testing.
Repairs can be especially costly in an automated welding environment, where constant progression of the part is crucial to overall throughput. If a part isn’t welded correctly, it may still continue through all steps of the process. If the defect isn’t caught until the end of the process, all the work must be redone.
Companies can use these eight tips to help optimize consumable, gun and equipment performance — and reduce costs in both semi-automatic and robotic welding operations.
This article was published as an exclusive on thefabricator.com. Read the full article here.
Cobots and Cobot MIG Guns: What To Know for Manufacturing Welding Operations
Traditional robotic welding systems can deliver many benefits, but they aren’t always the right solution for every manufacturer. In applications where implementing a robotic weld cell isn’t the answer, some companies are turning to collaborative robots, or cobots.
While not new to the industry, cobots are currently a fast-growing and still-developing technology. They can help operations save time, improve part quality and deliver consistency — all at a lower investment cost than a robotic welding system.
Cobots are still industrial robots, but they are designed to operate safely alongside workers and enable human collaboration with the robot. As an example, a cobot may be welding a workpiece while the nearby operator inspects and cleans a weld that was just completed by the cobot — essentially turning one worker into two.
Manufacturers with high-mix, low-volume production (those that make smaller numbers of a wide variety of parts) are a good fit for cobots, making general manufacturing and job shops common adopters.
There are several benefits that can help operations save time and money while improving part quality. These include:
1) Lower total cost
Cobots are typically less expensive for operations to adopt compared to a fully automated welding cell. This includes the initial cost of the equipment and the training required to get operators up to speed for programming and using it. In addition, many companies that provide robot integration offer leasing options for cobots, making it easy for manufacturers to try out the solution before making a purchasing decision.
2) Ease of use and training
Cobots have intuitive touch-screen user interfaces and are significantly easier to use than traditional robotic welding cells. Operating a cobot requires some training, but little welding or programming experience is necessary to successfully operate it. Compare that to a traditional robotic welding cell, which typically requires more extensive welding or programming experience. The reduced level of training with cobots can be a plus for operations that struggle to find and retain skilled labor.
3) Reduced safety risks
Because cobots are designed to be operated with human interaction, they have many built-in safety measures. They are limited in how fast they can move, are very sensitive to collisions, and they do not have pinch points. They will stop movement in the event of a collision. And because of these design parameters, the cobots will not be moving very fast if they do collide with something. Cobots can be programmed to move faster when they are not working alongside a human.
Many cobots are portable — essentially a table with a robot on it. They can be moved elsewhere in the facility to be used where they are needed. This allows operations to easily change which production line is using it.
Cobots are designed to offer a low barrier to entry — with fast setup and high ease of use. The programming required and specifics of the user interface will vary based on the integrator, but often the cobot is controlled by a tablet or cell phone app — making training and programming very easy. Some cobots are assembled before they are shipped, so setup only takes 30 minutes to an hour.
Once set up, operators can move the cobot to exactly the spot they want to start the weld and push a button to save that point. Then they can move the cobot to the end point of the weld and save that point. This can be easily repeated for each weld.
Some cobots allow the addition of different features to the programming, such as seam welds or stitch welds.
Choosing a welding gun and consumables
While it’s easy for the selection of a welding gun and consumables to be an afterthought in the process, these play an important role in the performance and efficiency of any welding system, including a cobot.
Choose a high-quality gun and consumables to optimize results, provide longer product life and reduce the time and money spent on troubleshooting. Reducing consumable changeover and potential issues is especially important for companies with less-experienced operators.
MIG guns for cobots are tested and rated using the same standards applied to traditional MIG guns. Be aware of what the rating means when selecting a MIG gun for cobot welding, as it helps prevent overheating when guns are used as they are rated.
A gun like the Tregaskiss BA1 cobot MIG gun features metal-to-metal connections that hold it in place in the mounting arm and keep the aluminum-armored neck firmly connected in the gun body to ensure accurate, quality welds. It also has minimal fasteners and a precision-machined keyway mounting system, making installation of the gun and mounting arm quick, easy and accurate.
To simplify maintenance, consider a front-load liner, since these can reduce downtime for changeover. The liners are replaced from the front of the gun without disturbing the gun, wire or feeder connection. Liner issues and challenges with liner replacement are a common cause of troubleshooting with both cobot MIG guns and traditional robotic ones. Having an easier liner replacement process helps reduce or avoid problems.
Look for consumables, like AccuLock™ R contact tips, nozzles and gas diffusers, that are designed to maximize production uptime through long service life and quick replacement. Since contact tip cross-threading issues can be a source of downtime in welding operations — especially with less experienced welding operators — these consumables feature coarse tip threads that help to eliminate the problem. They also feature increased mass and are buried within the diffuser, away from the weld, to increase tip life.
Cobots in welding
In the right manufacturing operation, cobots can help improve productivity and efficiency and lessen the strain on operations having difficulty finding skilled welders.
However, users expect a quick-to-implement and easy-to-use solution that keeps their operations agile and profitable. Choosing durable, high-quality cobot MIG guns and consumables for a cobot system can keep operators focused on manufacturing quality parts instead of troubleshooting or maintenance. This helps operations achieve their productivity and quality goals — and get the results they want.
Creating a Smooth Wire Feeding Path for MIG Welding
In MIG welding applications, having a smooth wire feeding path is critical. The welding wire must be able to feed easily from the spool on the feeder through the power pin, liner and gun and up to the contact tip to establish the arc. This allows the welding operator to maintain consistent levels of productivity and achieve good weld quality, while also minimizing costly downtime for troubleshooting and potential rework.
However, there are several issues that can disrupt wire feeding. These can cause a host of problems, including an erratic arc, burnbacks (the formation of a weld in or on the contact tip) and birdnesting (a tangle of wire in the drive rolls). For new welding operators who may not be as familiar with the MIG welding process, these problems can be especially frustrating. Fortunately, there are steps to easily prevent problems and create a reliable wire feeding path.
Welding liner length has a big impact on how well the wire will feed through the entire path. Too long of a liner can result in kinking and poor wire feeding, whereas a liner that is too short won’t provide enough support to the wire as it passes through. This can ultimately lead to micro-arcing within the contact tip that causes burnbacks or premature consumable failure. It can also be the cause of an erratic arc and birdnesting.
Trim the liner correctly and use the right system
Unfortunately, welding liner trimming issues are common, particularly among less experienced welding operators. To take the guesswork out of trimming a welding gun liner correctly — and achieve a flawless wire-feeding path — consider a system that eliminates the need for measuring the liner for replacement. This system locks the liner in place at the back of the gun, allowing the welding operator to trim it flush with the power pin. The other end of the liner locks at the front of the gun at the contact tip; it is concentrically aligned between the two points, so the liner won’t extend or contract during routine movements.
When using a conventional liner, avoid twisting the gun when trimming the liner and use a liner trim gauge when provided. Liners with an interior profile that imparts less friction on the welding wire as it goes through the liner are a good choice for achieving efficient wire feeding. These have a special coating on them and are coiled out of a larger profile material, which makes the liner stronger and offers smooth feeding.
Use the right contact tip and install correctly
Matching the welding contact tip size to the diameter of wire is another way to maintain a clear wire feeding path. For example, an 0.035-inch wire should be matched to the same diameter contact tip. In some cases, it may be desirable to decrease the contact tip by one size to gain better wire feeding and arc control. Ask a trusted welding consumables manufacturer or welding distributor for recommendations.
Look for wear in the form of keyholing (when the contact tip bore becomes worn and oblong) since this can cause a burnback that prevents the wire from feeding.
Be sure to install the contact tip correctly, tightening it past finger tight to avoid tip overheating, which can hinder wire feeding. Consult the operations manual from the welding contact tip manufacturer for the recommended torque specification.
Choose the right drive rolls and set tension properly
Drive rolls play a significant role in ensuring a MIG welding gun has a smooth wire feeding path.
The size of the drive roll should match the size of the wire being used and the style depends on the wire type. When welding with solid wire, a V-groove drive roll supports good feeding. Flux-cored wires — both gas- and self-shielded — and metal-cored wires work well with V-knurled drive rolls. For aluminum welding, use U-groove drive rolls; aluminum wires are very soft, so this style won’t crush or mar them.
To set the drive roll tension, turn the wire feeder knob to one half turn past slippage. Pull the trigger on the MIG gun, feeding the wire into a gloved hand and slowly curling it. The wire should be able to feed without slipping.
Understand the impact of welding wire on feedability
The quality of welding wire and the type of packaging it is in both affect wire feeding. High-quality wire tends to have a more consistent diameter than low-quality ones, making it easier to feed through the entire system. It also has a consistent cast (the diameter when a length of wire is cut off the spool and placed on a flat surface) and helix (the distance the wire rises from the flat surface), which add to the wire’s feedability. While higher-quality wire may cost more upfront, it can help reduce long-term costs by minimizing the risk of feeding issues.
Wire from large drums typically have a large cast when dispensed from the packaging, so they tend to feed straighter than wires from a spool. If the welding operation’s volume can support a larger drum, this may be a consideration for both wire feeding purposes and for reducing downtime for changeover.
Making the investment
In addition to following best practices to establish a clear wire feeding path — and knowing how to quickly troubleshoot problems — having reliable equipment is important. The upfront investment for a high-quality wire feeder and durable welding consumables can pay off in the long term by reducing issues and the costs associated with wire feeding problems. Less downtime means more focus on producing parts and getting them out to customers.
5 Tips for Robotic Welding Process and Project Planning
Robotic welding projects can arise in a number of ways — from a smaller shop expanding its capabilities to a large original equipment manufacturer (OEM) awarding new business or even a new company establishing itself within the competitive landscape.
Regardless of the circumstances, it’s critical to implement a well-thought-out and thoroughly researched plan to ensure a successful robotic welding operation. The plan should cover both the details related to the welding process and the specific project at hand. This helps companies meet quality and productivity goals while maintaining their cost margins and achieving profitability.
Being proactive is the key with planning. Doing so helps minimize the opportunity for unforeseen risks that could be detrimental to the welding operation. Some basic tips can help along the way.
Tip No. 1: Ask questions
To determine the desired outcome for a robotic welding operation, it’s important to define the welding process — in terms of how efficient and quick it needs to be — and to consider all details related to the project’s budget. Asking some fundamental questions can help stakeholders define the scope of the process they are using and the project they are undertaking.
- What efficiencies do we need from the welding process?
- How labor-intensive will the process be?
- Is there adequate staff for loading/unloading fixtures?
- What training will staff need to keep the robot welding effectively?
- How many robots do we need? And how hard or long do we want the robots to work?
- What should we consider about the weld cell ergonomics?
- How should the robots be configured?
- What capital is available and how fast do we want our return on investment (ROI) to be?
Answering these questions can help companies as they plan out their project and conduct cost analysis.
Tip No. 2: Set realistic goals
Along with asking questions to set the foundation for solid process and project planning, it’s also important to set realistic goals. These goals should relate to general processes in the robotic weld cell along with desired quality outcomes.
For example, when considering the capabilities of the welding process in a robotic cell, a 75% to 80% efficiency rate may be a realistic goal. No welding process is 100% efficient, so it’s important to account for equipment downtime (planned or unplanned), consumable changeover, welding wire drum changeover and more.
The same holds true for quality goals. Having 100% quality isn’t necessarily true to life since weld defects like porosity can occur, tool center point (TCP) can shift and stampings can become misaligned. Each of these instances is possible (and probable) in an everyday robotic welding operation.
Setting realistic goals allows time for unexpected occurrences once the robotic welding system is at work.
Tip No. 3: Look at the long term
While it may be tempting for companies to look for ways to reduce upfront costs during process and project planning, this doesn’t ensure that the long-term results are always positive. For example, neglecting to consider (and purchase) supplemental equipment, such as reamers (also called nozzle cleaning stations), can lead to greater expenses over the lifetime of a project.
Reamers clean spatter from the welding gun nozzle and gas diffuser to ensure smooth shielding gas flow that in turn supports good weld quality. Reamers are available in analog or ethernet models.
It’s important to consider reamer quality, especially for heavy-duty, higher-volume applications. While reamers with heavy-duty construction generally cost more, they also last much longer than light-duty models. Be sure to size the reamer appropriately for the project because reamers vary in the amount of torque they provide when removing spatter. Heavy-duty reamers provide more torque and have cutter blades that can reach deeper into the nozzle for a more thorough spatter cleaning.
Companies should also determine how much human interaction with the reamer is necessary to keep the welding process at target efficiency levels. For example, implementing a multi-feed anti-spatter sprayer system reduces time and labor for refilling the small sprayer reservoir on the reamer. It can feed multiple reamers from a large drum of anti-spatter solution outside the weld cell.
Tip No. 4: Pay attention to the small details
When it comes to identifying equipment for a robotic welding cell, it may be easy to overlook the importance of robotic MIG guns and consumables. While small in investment compared to a robot, each can have a significant impact on the efficiency of a welding process and the quality of the project.
Frequent changeover due to poor-quality MIG welding consumables or ones that aren’t appropriate for the application can add up. Be sure to select those that will be compatible with the heat inputs. Brass nozzles are strong and better able to resist spatter adhesion than copper nozzles. However, brass can be brittle at high temperatures, so they are best for lower-heat applications. Copper nozzles are better for high-heat applications but tend to allow greater spatter adhesion. For pulsed applications, where waveforms can be especially harsh on contact tips, an HDP tip can last longer, reducing the frequency of downtime caused by tip changes. The same holds true for contact tips that offer coarse threads to reduce the risk of cross-threading during replacement. When possible, standardize consumables throughout the entire welding operation to bring greater efficiencies.
Like consumables, the robotic MIG gun selected needs to match the duty cycle of the application to withstand the resistive heat and avoid overheating. The gun should also have an appropriate size of neck for the application to enable access to tooling and the weld joint.
Tip 5: Look for opportunities to optimize
Finding ways to maximize robot uptime is an important part of process and project planning. Robots are expensive, so companies want to be sure that they will get as close to 100% optimization as possible.
Having a high-quality welding wire, like a metal-cored wire, that supports faster travel speeds is one option to help optimize the robotic welding system. Look for wires with a consistent cast and helix to support smooth wire feeding.
Preventive maintenance (PM) programs help ensure that a robotic welding system operates efficiently, avoids unplanned downtime and supports more arc-on time. With a preventive maintenance schedule, companies can proactively check and change welding gun liners and MIG welding consumables during planned downtime, while also assessing the power cable and robot for damage.
It’s also important to plan for the ways that employees can support robot optimization. Training is critical. Properly trained robotic welding supervisors or technicians can be more effective at understanding the process and adjusting equipment as needed. Appropriate training can also help them run the equipment longer and more efficiently.
Putting everything to work
Once a company considers the key tips for process and project planning, they should be sure that everything works. Trials can help flush out unforeseen problems before starting full production and save money by preventing budget overages to fix issues.
After a project has been put into motion, take time for reflection. Revisit all aspects to see what worked and what didn’t. Continuing to learn from projects can help companies achieve future success.
AccuLock™ Consumables Save Time and Money in MIG Consumable Changeover
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
They may seem like small pieces of a welding operation but when consumables aren’t properly installed or maintained, big problems can result — from poor wire feeding to weld quality issues. Related troubleshooting and rework cause costly downtime and lost productivity.
Consumable changeover can also be a time-consuming part of the welding process, especially if it’s necessary to do it frequently or if less experienced welders install consumables incorrectly.
Choosing the right consumables can help reduce or eliminate these hassles. Learn how AccuLock consumables can be used for Bernard® BTB MIG guns and Tregaskiss® fixed automatic and robotic MIG guns to help operations save time and money and improve efficiency.
The benefits of AccuLock consumables
AccuLock consumables are designed to address common challenges faced in both semi-automatic and automated MIG welding operations. A switch to AccuLock consumables can help operations:
- Increase consumable life while reducing costs and improving productivity.
- Reduce consumable replacement errors and the time and money spent on troubleshooting, rework and downtime.
- Simplify consumables replacement, improving accuracy and reducing employee training.
The AccuLock consumable family for industrial welding applications includes AccuLock R and AccuLock S systems, two options that are designed to deliver timesaving benefits and optimized performance in automated and semi-automatic welding applications.
Load and lock for increased productivity and throughput
The AccuLock S (Semi-automatic) consumables system features liners designed to resolve issues and errors with liner trimming and installation as well as erratic wire feeding problems. Because AccuLock S liners are locked and concentrically aligned to both the contact tip and the power pin, they offer a flawless wire-feed path and error-proof liner replacement every time. In addition, a steel retaining ring on the diffuser helps keep the threaded nozzle in place during use and cleaning.
The AccuLock R (Robotic) consumables system offers front-loading QUICK LOAD® liners that require less than half the time and effort to replace compared to conventional liners and can be changed from a safe zone in a robotic weld cell. Upgrading to AccuLock HDP contact tips can extend life by 10 times or more in pulsed welding applications. In addition, operations currently using TOUGH LOCK® consumables in robotic and fixed automatic MIG guns can easily upgrade to AccuLock R consumables without affecting TCP or requiring programming changes.
Choose according to your needs
When deciding between the two types of AccuLock consumables for industrial welding applications, there are several key factors to consider. It’s important to think about the type of welding being done in the operation and what current issues or challenges need addressing.
AccuLock S consumables are best suited for operations with the following issues or characteristics:
- Primarily focused on semi-automatic welding with little to no automation.
- Dealing with decreased productivity due to liner installation errors, burnbacks, bird-nesting and erratic arc.
- Wanting to reduce the time and costs of troubleshooting, downtime and rework.
AccuLock R consumables are best suited for operations with the following issues or characteristics:
- Primarily focused on robotic or fixed automatic welding with few semi-automatic guns.
- Having a complicated and costly consumables inventory that may be the root cause of frequent consumable replacement errors.
- Experiencing issues with contact tip cross-threading and want increased tip life.
Choosing between AccuLock S and AccuLock R on semi-automatic MIG guns
Customers who are currently using TOUGH LOCK consumables on Bernard BTB MIG guns can upgrade their guns with either AccuLock S or AccuLock R consumables. Although AccuLock S consumables offer many benefits specific to semi-automatic welding applications, in some cases it can make more sense for these welding guns to be upgraded to AccuLock R consumables instead. For example, if a complex inventory of MIG gun consumables is the primary root cause of high carrying costs and consumable replacement errors in a given facility, AccuLock R consumables may offer a better ROI.
Switching existing Bernard BTB MIG guns to AccuLock R consumables is an easy change to make, requiring only an AccuLock R diffuser and an AccuLock contact tip — with no need to switch the liner, power pin, power pin cap or nozzle.
Successful welding operations simplify inventory
Both AccuLock S and AccuLock R systems share a common contact tip to simplify inventory management for facilities that choose to use both. AccuLock contact tips last longer due to increased mass and being buried within the diffuser, away from the heat of the weld. Coarse threads work in tandem with a long contact tip tail to concentrically align the tip within the diffuser prior to thread engagement, ensuring quick, accurate replacement without cross-threading.
Getting the most out of MIG gun consumables
AccuLock S consumables solve many of the issues that can be traced to MIG gun liners that have been trimmed to an incorrect length or that pull out of position inside the MIG gun, creating gaps along the wire feed path. They are a good fit in most semi-automatic applications.
In fleets with a lot of automated welding, AccuLock R consumables can extend contact tip lifespan (especially in pulsed welding applications), eliminate contact tip cross-threading issues, alleviate excessive downtime for consumables replacement and limit safety issues related to climbing up to access robots or wire feeders for gun liner changes.
Although small in size, both AccuLock R and AccuLock S consumables can deliver sizable time- and cost-saving benefits by reducing troubleshooting and downtime in industrial welding applications.
Improve Productivity by Preventing 5 Common MIG Welding Problems
Downtime and rework can be costly for manufacturing operations. The last thing any production team wants to do is the same work twice. If you add to that any time spent troubleshooting issues in the weld cell — the lost production time can start to accumulate quickly.
There are several steps operations can take to reduce the time lost to these common issues in MIG welding — and many of them start during weld setup and selection of consumables. Read on to learn more about five common causes of lost productivity in the weld cell and how to prevent them.
Cause 1: Poor fit-up or weld prep
Before welding even starts, pay attention to proper fit-up and joint design, as well as base material preparation and cleaning. Good fit-up means avoiding large or inconsistent gaps between the parts. Choosing the right wire size and gas mixture and matching those in advance can help optimize performance and provide proper gap filling capabilities.
Certain welding wires, such as metal-cored wires, are usable on less-prepped base material by offering the ability to weld through mill scale or other surface impurities. They also offer good gap bridging. If operations are often getting parts that aren’t thoroughly cleaned, it may be worth testing a metal-cored wire. Otherwise, changes to the weld prep stage of the operation may be necessary to achieve better material condition prior to welding.
Cause 2: Incorrect parameters or system setup
Using the wrong parameters or setting the wire feeder up incorrectly are common causes of lost productivity. Having the wrong settings can greatly affect the weld, sometimes without the operator even realizing the impact that a setting change can make. It’s important to have a thorough understanding of the wire feeder and all of its functions to set it up for optimal performance.
When properly set up, there should be very few issues with the performance of the MIG welding gun. However, if the system is set up incorrectly or there is a poor weld circuit, it can lead to contact tip failure, since the contact tip is the smallest fuse in the weld circuit. This can result in money wasted on frequent contact tip changeover.
Cause 3: Improper liner installation
MIG gun liners can wear out over time and must be changed periodically, like other consumables. However, replacement liners are often longer than necessary and must be precisely trimmed according to the style and length of the gun. If a liner is cut too short, it can result in issues like burnback, an erratic arc and wire chatter. When liners are cut too long, it can cause the wire to weave and curve as it feeds through the gun.
With either too-long or too-short liners, the result is often poor wire feeding and downtime spent troubleshooting these problems. Maintenance and troubleshooting for liner issues can be costly, resulting in multiple hours per week lost for an operation.
The more that liner movement within the gun can be minimized, the better your wire feedability will be. To avoid the guesswork and hassle, look for a solution that makes liner installation and trimming easier. The Bernard® AccuLock™ S consumable system affixes the liner at both ends of the gun, so welders are assured the liner won’t pull back or push into the contact tip, allowing for smooth, uninterrupted delivery of the wire to the weld pool.
It’s also important to occasionally check to make sure the liner is clear and not blocked by debris or buildup.
Cause 4: Loose connections or neglected maintenance
When MIG welding consumables aren’t properly installed and maintained, it can result in wire feeding issues and weld quality problems that lead to lost time for troubleshooting.
For example, a loose connection in the weld circuit means you’re not getting the power you expect from the power source. In that case, the operator may keep adjusting the parameters, causing an increase in resistance that leads to shortened consumable life. These issues tend to show up first in the contact tip. This is often the first thing the operator changes if they think they have a problem with their MIG gun. Changing the contact tip — even when the real source of the problem is a loose connection or improper setup in the circuit — drives up consumable costs and wastes time.
Be sure to periodically check and tighten all connections and cables. Tight connections help optimize performance and reduce the chance of issues occurring in the system.
Cause 5: Cutting corners with contact tips
Another cause of lost productivity is using low-quality contact tips. Some contact tips are designed for ease of use and high performance. They provide better arc starts, less spatter, more consistent welds and longer life.
With Bernard AccuLock S consumables, 60% of the contact tip is buried in the gas diffuser to protect it from heat damage. As the shielding gas flows through the gun, it cools the contact tip tail inside the gas diffuser. This helps reduce heat and wear. This also differs from traditional tips that screw onto the gas diffuser with little to no portion of the tip exposed directly to the shielding gas as it exits the diffuser to the arc. The tapered design of the consumables tightly locks the conductive parts together to minimize electrical resistance and further reduce heat buildup. The contact tips also feature coarse threads, making them less likely to become cross-threaded.
Troubleshooting common welding problems
Common problems in the weld cell — from poor fit-up or wire feeding issues to using the wrong consumables for the job — can cost the operation significant time and money. Addressing the causes of lost productivity often starts with proper weld prep and setup, as well as making sure the chosen consumables are right for the application. Optimizing setup and efficiency in the weld circuit makes troubleshooting that much faster when issues do arise.
Manufacturer Cuts $45,000 of Costs With New MIG Welding Guns and Consumables
General Kinematics — a premier manufacturer of vibrating equipment for processing bulk materials — has been providing consistent, on-time and innovative solutions to its customers for more than 60 years. The company prides itself on offering rugged, cutting-edge equipment to manage difficult-to-process materials across the mining, resource recovery, bulk processing and foundry industries.
A reputation for design leadership and creating tailored technical advancements sets the company apart from the competition, as does its commitment to providing excellent service.
This 200-person, Crystal Lake, Ilinois-based company doesn’t have time for slowdowns, especially in the welding operation. In recent years though, General Kinematics noticed exactly that. It was experiencing repeated MIG gun breakdowns and excessive contact tip consumption that slowed production.
“Between costs and repairs and lost labor from the welders having issues that stopped their progress, we estimated around $45,000 a year in costs from these issues,” said Jason Jerik, plant manager at General Kinematics.
That’s when Jon Strug, the company’s maintenance tech, approached their welding distributor, Steve Schuette of Weldstar in Aurora, Illinois, for a solution. Schuette recommended a trial of Bernard BTB air-cooled MIG guns with AccuLock™ S consumables.
Considering the change
Problems with the water-cooled MIG welding guns at General Kinematics were at the heart of its need for a new solution.
“The guns were definitely our main issue with maintenance for Jon,” said Joel Jacobson, director of manufacturing. “It was tough to keep up to the demands of the hoses breaking, the wires breaking internally in the guns, tips burning out, liners and such.”
Jerik added, “The last time we calculated from a dollar standpoint it translated to about five to seven hours a week in lost time just with liner issues. It was that frequent.”
The team, along with Schuette, took a slow and thorough approach to testing the Bernard air-cooled BTB MIG welding guns and consumables, making sure that the products performed as expected. They worked first with some sample guns in standard sizes and leads and had different welders try them for a week each.
“We would test a week with one fitter, a week with one welder, and then we’d move them around to see what kind of acceptance we would get with them,” said Jacobson.
General Kinematics welds a variety of materials — from A-36 steel to AR-500 plate — in thickness up to eight inches and on a variety of joints. Welding operators also weld both large and small weldments and use different welding wire diameters. The guns and consumables needed to be versatile enough to manage these jobs and produce the quality needed to adhere to the American Welding Society (AWS) D.1.1 Structural Welding – Steel code. They also had to be the right equipment for the company’s welding operators.
Jacobson and Jerik regularly met with the welding operators to request feedback during the trial.
According to Jerik, welding operators saw noticeably less consumable consumption. However, they wanted to change the angle on the neck of guns to gain better access to some difficult joint configurations. They worked back and forth with Bernard to determine a different angle of the neck that suited their needs.
“We wanted to do a thorough run of testing and vetting out to decide ‘Is this the right product for us? Are we going to get that buy-in from our welding operators?’” he said.
Ensuring that welding operators liked the MIG welding guns and consumables was a critical part of the testing General Kinematics conducted. The company has a culture of empowerment and wanted its welding operators to be heard and to contribute their opinions.
“We think it’s important to get our welders involved early in the process,” said Jacobson. “Not everyone likes change, but getting them involved in testing up front can help show the long-term benefits.”
“I’m huge on that,” Jerik added. “I’d rather not force and push a change onto a team. I’d
rather them accept it and make it their own.”
After eight months of testing, processing feedback and making adjustments, General Kinematics made the decision to convert to the Bernard BTB air-cooled MIG guns and AccuLock S consumables.
The benefit of the investment
General Kinematics invested in 400-amp BTB air-cooled MIG guns for its 40 welding operators, as well as several 450-amp Bernard water-cooled guns — all with the same AccuLock S consumables. Bernard built the company a special neck for its water-cooled guns to provide better ergonomic access to typical weld joints, and these guns are the first of their kind ever to be configured with the AccuLock S consumables.
So, what finally sold General Kinematics on the Bernard products? In short, durability and performance.
The reduction in gun maintenance was key. Strug no longer has to contend with leaking water-cooled guns or liner issues that need fixing — and the new guns and consumables are less frustrating for the welding operators, who can now spend more time being productive.
“We have a whole lot fewer repairs. Before it was constantly, every month, seven guns I had to send out to get repaired or I had to repair them myself,” said Strug. “It’s a huge difference in quality — night and day.”
This durability and performance result from a combination of the rugged construction of the BTB air-cooled MIG guns — which were configured according to the handle, neck, trigger and cables the company needed — and the liner that is part of the AccuLock S consumables system.
Bernard designed the liner in the system for error-proof replacement by eliminating the need to measure it prior to installation. Instead of the liner loading from the back, like many competitive guns, the AccuLock S liner loads in the neck at the front of the gun and then locks in place so it can be trimmed flush with the power pin. This prevents the liner from being trimmed too short or too long.
“I like the liners,” said Strug. “They last a lot longer and I definitely like the quality of them.”
According to Jacobson, another selling point was that AccuLock contact tips run significantly cooler than the company’s previous ones so there is less consumption and downtime for changeover.
That’s due to the design of the tip and gas diffuser. Sixty percent of the welding contact tip is buried in the gas diffuser, which protects it from heat damage, and the shielding gas also cools the contact tip tail as it flows through the gun. AccuLock consumables have a tapered design that locks the tip, gas diffuser and nozzle tightly together to further reduce electrical resistance and lower heat buildup.
Jacobson likes the ability to reduce costs by having equipment that lasts longer. And both the air- and water-cooled MIG welding guns use the same AccuLock S consumables, which helps reduce inventory management.
The welding operators like that the guns and consumables run cooler and help reduce spatter, so there is less cleanup.
The long-term benefits
For General Kinematics, making the change to the Bernard BTB guns and AccuLock S consumables is just another way the company commits itself to quality. But there has been more to the conversion than that.
General Kinematics was able to gain a return on investment in approximately 12 to 14 months. And while there are still labor and equipment costs for gun and consumable maintenance, the conversion has eliminated the $45,000 in extra spending to address previous issues with the water-cooled guns.
The products have also helped its welding operators achieve approximately 10% more productivity by eliminating downtime. That’s important to the welding operators and to Jerik.
“When it comes down to it, do these products make their job easier? Do they make them more productive?”
The answer to both is yes.
The Importance of Cutting a Welding Gun Liner Properly
Cutting a welding gun liner correctly is, first and foremost, a matter of proper training. For traditional systems, it’s critical that welding operators understand how to measure and cut the liner to the required length for the gun.
A MIG gun liner that has been cut either too short or too long can lead to a host of issues, most often poor wire feeding. That, in turn, can lead to weld quality issues and rework — both factors that contribute to unnecessary and costly downtime.
The Bernard® AccuLock™ S Consumable System can help eliminate installation issues. First, however, it’s important to understand the pitfalls of standard liner installation to understand the value of this solution.
The problem with welding gun liners
The position of the gun and power cable factors significantly into whether liner installation is successful. If the gun and power cable are twisted or coiled before the welding operator trims the liner, the liner can end up either too long or too short, due to how the cable is constructed.
The copper inside the power cable is wound around a central conduit in a helix or spiral. If the cable is twisted or coiled, it will grow or shrink based on how the copper helix is also twisted. Think of a spring — if it is twisted one way, it grows; if twisted the other way, it shrinks.
For this reason, it’s important to lay the MIG gun and cable straight to avoid any kinks that would lead to an incorrect reading when trimming the liner. Generally, longer power cables are more prone to twisting, so welding operators must take even more care when installing liners in them.
Welding operators may experience the following due to an improperly trimmed liner:
- Poor wire feeding
- Erratic arc
- Wire chatter
A new solution for welding gun liners
The Bernard® AccuLock™ System eliminates the need to measure when cutting the welding gun liner for replacement. The liner is locked into place by the power pin cap. It is then trimmed flush with the power pin at the back of the gun and power cable. It is still important to lay the gun and cable flat, avoiding twists.
The welding operator can conduct a visual check to determine the liner is in the proper place. This check isn’t possible with a traditional liner if it has been cut too short; the welding operator simply can’t see it under the nozzle and gas diffuser.
The AccuLock System reduces wire feeding issues through the gun, as well, since the liner is locked and concentrically aligned at both the power pin cap and contact tip. This dual lock helps ensure the liner won’t extend or contract as the welding operator changes positions and the power cable naturally bends. The result is the elimination of gaps or misalignments at the front and back of the gun for a flawless wire-feeding path.
As an added benefit, the concentric alignment of the liner reduces mechanical wear on the contact tip that could lead to burnbacks or keyholing, both of which shorten the contact tip life.
For more information please visit the AccuLock S consumables product page.
Selecting Contact Tips for Robotic Welding
Contact tips are often referred to as the smallest fuse in the fuse box that is your robotic welding cell. But this small fuse can have a big impact on productivity. In terms of overall efficiency, the contact tip is key.
Contact tips depend upon repeatability to be effective in the welding process. Learn more about the different types of available — and how choosing the right one for your application can improve results and save money.
How do contact tips affect efficiency?
The job of the contact tip is to transfer the welding current to the arc and guide the welding wire as consistently as possible. If either of these two factors degrade, the overall welding process also degrades, affecting quality.
When an operation changes contact tips every few hours, there is an obvious effect on productivity. It requires the weld cell to be shut down, and the operator may have to enter the cell to change out the tip. If the robot is buried inside the welding line, contact tip changeover takes even longer.
Not only are these changeovers inefficient, but they also introduce the potential for mistakes. Every time a human interacts with the robot, there’s a risk of incorrect consumable installation or other improper adjustments that can lead to poor quality welds and costly rework.
Choosing the right tip depends on the results you’re looking for and the needs of the application. In the automotive industry, for example, choosing a quality contact tip is critical since unplanned downtime is the enemy of a high-volume multi-robot operation. Contact tips in these applications need more wear resistance.
A high-quality contact tip provides a longer life and a more consistent and stable arc. Longer tip life results in more robot uptime, less time wasted on non-value-added labor for tip changeovers and reduced human interaction with the robot that could lead to error. But the contact tip itself isn’t the only factor impacting tip life — the welding wire, part fit-up, robot programming and grounding also contribute.
Types of contact tips
There are several types of contact tips available. Understanding the differences can help you select the best choice for your operation.
1. Copper contact tips: Contact tips made from this material are the most conductive to transfer welding current. But copper is also the softest option and will keyhole (or wear the bore unevenly) much faster. If keyholing is a pain point in your operation, this may not be the best choice. The initial cost of copper contact tips tends to be cheaper than other options.
2. Chrome-zirconium contact tips: This alloy provides better wear resistance and longer life than copper tips, holding up better to the demands and increased arc-on time of robotic welding. They are slightly less conductive than copper tips, but they are still sufficient for most robotic applications.
3. HDP contact tips: HDP tips can last 10 times longer than copper tips — and up to 30 times in some cases — depending on the application and waveform being used. Operations may be able to go from changing contact tips every two hours to only changing tips once a week. HDP contact tips are engineered to endure wear better, providing increased resistance to arc erosion in pulsed welding, as well as spray transfer and CV MIG. The precise fit between the tip and the wire also results in good arc stability to help produce high-quality welds. Because HDP contact tips reduce the impact of the welding current decline over time, they can provide a more stable and consistent arc over the life of each contact tip. These tips work best in applications that use high-quality copper-coated solid wire.
Common pitfalls with contact tips
Once you understand the types of contact tips available, there are numerous factors to consider when choosing the right tip for your application. Here are some common mistakes operations make when choosing contact tips so you can avoid the same pitfalls:
1. Only considering price: Many operations may look only at the price per tip when they purchase contact tips. But it’s important to look beyond the initial price and consider the big picture, which includes the downtime and labor required for changeover, along with any quality issues that may be happening in the weld cell. If a contact tip lasts three times as long, the robot can continue to weld instead of being down for a tip changeover — and there is less human interaction inside the cell .
2. Ignoring ID tolerance issues: The size and cast of the welding wire are important in making a decision about contact tips. Some tips need to be undersized for the welding wire used, while some tips need to match the wire size. And the same exact wire will vary in the necessary contact tip size depending on if the wire comes in a small spool or a 1,000-pound barrel. For most copper and chrome-zirconium tips, it’s recommended to undersize the contact tip by a single wire size when using a 500-pound barrel or greater of wire due to the wire cast. With smaller sizes of wire packaging, use contact tips that match the wire size. The goal is to maintain a clean, consistent contact between the wire and the tip so the weld current is conducted as efficiently as possible.
3. Using poor quality wire: In most cases, poor quality welding wire will lead to poor results from your contact tips. This is due to the lubrication on the wire, as well as the consistency of the wire diameter; inconsistent wire diameter wears the tip faster. Choosing a higher quality wire can improve tip life and produce better results. Also, be aware that wires without a copper coating and cored wires wear tips much faster. Using copper-coated solid wires typically slows contact tip wear.
4. Not being open to change: Some companies think the status quo is fine because they aren’t experiencing issues. They change tips in the robotic welding cell every couple of hours, even if those tips don’t need to be changed. Looking at the true length of their current tips or investing in higher-quality tips could optimize efficiency and the overall process — saving unplanned downtime and reducing the need for non-value-added labor hours.
Analyzing the robotic operation
If contact tips are being removed proactively even when there is no keyholing, burnbacks or erratic arcs, there could be potential to get more life out of contact tips.
So how can companies best analyze their robotic welding operation to determine when to change to a different type of contact tip?
Contact tips react differently to different applications, so an important first step is to run trials with varying quality levels of tips. This will provide an accurate comparison and a level set for expectations. Run each tip to failure, including the current brand, rather than proactively changing the tip on a set schedule. Be sure to log the time each part lasted. Ideally, run multiple contact tips in any trial to eliminate any outliers.
This type of trial can help to identify how much labor time is spent on tip changeovers, how much robot uptime can be achieved and what failures are occurring with each type of contact tip.
If an operation previously experienced 10 burnbacks a day and reduces that to zero by using a higher quality contact tip, this can help eliminate unplanned downtime.
Optimizing contact tip efficiency in robotic welding
It’s important to look beyond the purchase cost and consider the big picture to best evaluate the potential productivity, as well as weld quality and efficiency gains of certain contact tips. The benefits can be especially significant in robotic welding applications, where regular contact tip changeovers can be greatly reduced.
Welding students in Tulsa benefit from Bernard® MIG Guns and Consumables
Tulsa Welding School’s Houston campus needs reliable equipment that can handle any process. Bernard® MIG guns and consumables are the answer. “Bernard (guns) they’re real comfortable in my hand you know. They’re not too big and bulky. They’re not too heavy. The neck ratio on that, is just, they’re awesome. I like them. The lighter the gun can be is great for a welder.”, Greg Langdon – welding instructor.
Blinn Instructors Choose Bernard® MIG Guns and Consumables for Dependable Welding Equipment
“Here at Blinn when we chose welding equipment first and foremost I want something solid. That’s going to be there for me for years. In our labs we have connected all our Miller 22 A wire feeders to Bernard guns. Centerfire is so user friendly that I actually bought conversion kits and changed all our non-Bernard gear over to Bernard consumables” – Blinn welding instructor, John McGee.
Instructors and students at Blinn College have come to rely on Bernard product for molding future welders. Bernard MIG guns and consumables are easy to use and a welder’s best choice in dependability.
In many cases, equipment-based solutions can be a means to gain success in the robotic welding operation. They can mitigate costly risks and eliminate issues that lead to inefficiencies. And often, these issues are related to a small but significant part of the robotic welding process — the welding consumables. Changing over consumables can be a time-consuming part of maintaining the welding cell, especially if it is done multiple times during a shift. Changeover can also negatively impact productivity and quality if the consumables are installed incorrectly. Unfortunately, given the industry’s current lack of skilled welders, that may be a common occurrence. Welders simply have less experience with proper installation processes. To address this problem, many companies tend to spend more time and money on training and troubleshooting. They may even have to find workarounds to problems in the weld cell as employees get up to speed. All of this occupies resources. Welding consumables — the contact tip, gas diffuser and nozzle — can be a major source of downtime in robotic welding operations, unplanned or planned. During installation, cross-threading of contact tips by less experienced welders is a common occurrence that can result in unplanned downtime. Cross-threading leads to multiple problems beyond the lost productivity for contact tip changeover. First, it can negatively affect tool center point (TCP), causing the robot to weld off-seam and create quality issues like lack of fusion or poor penetration. Personnel overlooking the robotic welding cell then need to stop production to address rework and/or scrap the part. Cross-threading can also create a keyhole, or uneven wear, in the bore of the contact tip. A keyhole the size of only half the diameter of the wire can result in the robot welding off-seam. Many times, a cross-threaded contact tip will stick inside the welding gas diffuser. Without another gas diffuser readily available, the operator has to make a trip to the tool crib for a new one. Meanwhile the robot is offline and not producing parts. Plus, a company incurs costs for both the contact tip and the diffuser’s replacement. Companies that invest in power sources with a pulsed waveform capability — particularly in the automotive industry — often schedule planned downtime. Pulse waveforms improve productivity and quality by increasing travel speeds, providing a more consistent arc and reducing spatter. However, the pulsing action of the arc electrically and mechanically erodes the contact tip, leading to faster wear. It is necessary to plan downtime as a preemptive strike against contact tip failures before the chance of associated weld quality issues arise. Both unplanned and planned downtime cost money and occupy available labor for non-value-added activities — tasks that don’t support throughput and productivity. There is a new welding consumables technology that can help. To address the issue of cross-threaded contact tips, Tregaskiss designed its AccuLock™ R consumables. The design is intended to support higher throughput, provide a long service life and ensure good weld quality. The AccuLock contact tip features a long tail that concentrically aligns within the diffuser before the threads engage. The threads are also coarse, so they require minimal rotations to install. This design virtually eliminates the risk of cross-threading and provides three key benefits to the robotic welding operation: The contact tips also have greater mass at the front compared to other designs, along with a taper that mates securely with the gas diffuser. The tapered surfaces ensure optimal conductivity, reduce heat and keep the consumables locked in place. These features — combined with the fact that 60% of the contact tip is buried in the diffuser, away from the heat of the arc — make the consumables last longer. Extending the product life means there is less need for changeovers. AccuLock R consumables can also address the accelerated wear of contact tips caused by pulsed waveforms. In addition to offering the contact tips in copper and chrome zirconium, Tregaskiss has an AccuLock HDP option. The HDP contact tips last more than 10 times longer than copper tips in pulsed MIG welding applications. As a result, companies can reduce unplanned downtime for contact tip changeover — and make those changeovers faster because of the easy-to-install design. AccuLock R consumables can be implemented easily. Switching from many other consumables typically doesn’t affect TCP or robotic programming; however, it is best to consult directly with Tregaskiss to confirm this is the case. For companies that have both robotic welding and semi-automatic welding operations, the AccuLock R consumables can simplify complex inventories. The contact tips are part of a Common Consumable Platform™ and can be used across a wide range of Tregaskiss® robotic and fixed automatic MIG guns, as well as with Bernard® semi-automatic MIG guns (ranging from 200 to 600 amps). This common contact tip can reduce inventory costs and lessens the opportunity for operators to install the wrong consumable. The AccuLock R gas diffuser also has a blue o-ring to distinguish it from other diffusers. When companies find equipment solutions, like the AccuLock R consumables, that help reduce troubleshooting and downtime in their robotic welding operations, opportunities can increase. The ability to improve productivity and quality is at the forefront of those. But there may also be more time available to optimize the weld cell, make positive changes to workflow or material handling and seek out cost savings.In some cases, companies may also uncover issues in the weld cell that were previously masked by frequent contact tip changeovers. Now, however, there is more time address those to generate greater efficiencies in the operation. In short, with the right consumables, there is more time to focus on reaching improvement targets and increasing throughput — and on implementing training that can help achieve those goals. Now mobile friendly! Configure your Bernard semi-automatic MIG gun – anytime, anywhere. Bernard AccuLock S consumables provide error-proof liner replacement every time — no measuring required! Dual-locked in the contact tip and power pin AccuLock S liners guarantees optimized wire-feeding. Automating spatter removal helps to extend the life of your robotic MIG welding guns and consumables. It can benefit your bottom line, production up-time and throughput. Choose between our TOUGH GUN TT4A reamer (analog model) or our new TOUGH GUN TT4E reamer (Ethernet model) for further enhanced with digital Ethernet communication for better integration. Tregaskiss TOUGH GUN TT4 reamer is tough on spatter and operates reliably in even the harshest welding environments. Automating spatter removal will help to extend the life of your robotic MIG guns and consumables. Designed for increased tip life, Tregaskiss AccuLock R consumables can reduce your replacement frequency and related planned downtime. AccuLock HDP contact tips can increase life by an additional 6-10x or more in pulse welding applications. Customize your Tregaskiss robotic MIG gun or reamer for your specific application using our new mobile-friendly online configurators!
AccuLock R Consumables Reduce Downtime in Robotic Welding
A new consumables solution
Making the change
Configure your Bernard® Semi-Automatic MIG Gun Online
Bernard® AccuLock™ S Consumables – No Measuring Required
Bernard® AccuLock™ S Consumables: Dual-Locked Liner
Tregaskiss® TOUGH GUN® Reamer Robotic Nozzle Cleaning Stations Animation
Tregaskiss® TOUGH GUN® Reamer Robotic Nozzle Cleaning Stations
Tregaskiss® AccuLock™ R Consumables for Better Throughput
Tregaskiss® AccuLock™ HDP Contact Tips
Configure your Tregaskiss® Robotic MIG Gun and Reamer Online
In many cases, equipment-based solutions can be a means to gain success in the robotic welding operation. They can mitigate costly risks and eliminate issues that lead to inefficiencies. And often, these issues are related to a small but significant part of the robotic welding process — the welding consumables.
Changing over consumables can be a time-consuming part of maintaining the welding cell, especially if it is done multiple times during a shift. Changeover can also negatively impact productivity and quality if the consumables are installed incorrectly. Unfortunately, given the industry’s current lack of skilled welders, that may be a common occurrence. Welders simply have less experience with proper installation processes. To address this problem, many companies tend to spend more time and money on training and troubleshooting. They may even have to find workarounds to problems in the weld cell as employees get up to speed. All of this occupies resources.
Welding consumables — the contact tip, gas diffuser and nozzle — can be a major source of downtime in robotic welding operations, unplanned or planned.
During installation, cross-threading of contact tips by less experienced welders is a common occurrence that can result in unplanned downtime. Cross-threading leads to multiple problems beyond the lost productivity for contact tip changeover.
First, it can negatively affect tool center point (TCP), causing the robot to weld off-seam and create quality issues like lack of fusion or poor penetration. Personnel overlooking the robotic welding cell then need to stop production to address rework and/or scrap the part.
Cross-threading can also create a keyhole, or uneven wear, in the bore of the contact tip. A keyhole the size of only half the diameter of the wire can result in the robot welding off-seam.
Many times, a cross-threaded contact tip will stick inside the welding gas diffuser. Without another gas diffuser readily available, the operator has to make a trip to the tool crib for a new one. Meanwhile the robot is offline and not producing parts. Plus, a company incurs costs for both the contact tip and the diffuser’s replacement.
Companies that invest in power sources with a pulsed waveform capability — particularly in the automotive industry — often schedule planned downtime. Pulse waveforms improve productivity and quality by increasing travel speeds, providing a more consistent arc and reducing spatter. However, the pulsing action of the arc electrically and mechanically erodes the contact tip, leading to faster wear. It is necessary to plan downtime as a preemptive strike against contact tip failures before the chance of associated weld quality issues arise.
Both unplanned and planned downtime cost money and occupy available labor for non-value-added activities — tasks that don’t support throughput and productivity.
There is a new welding consumables technology that can help.
To address the issue of cross-threaded contact tips, Tregaskiss designed its AccuLock™ R consumables. The design is intended to support higher throughput, provide a long service life and ensure good weld quality.
The AccuLock contact tip features a long tail that concentrically aligns within the diffuser before the threads engage. The threads are also coarse, so they require minimal rotations to install. This design virtually eliminates the risk of cross-threading and provides three key benefits to the robotic welding operation:
The contact tips also have greater mass at the front compared to other designs, along with a taper that mates securely with the gas diffuser. The tapered surfaces ensure optimal conductivity, reduce heat and keep the consumables locked in place. These features — combined with the fact that 60% of the contact tip is buried in the diffuser, away from the heat of the arc — make the consumables last longer. Extending the product life means there is less need for changeovers.
AccuLock R consumables can also address the accelerated wear of contact tips caused by pulsed waveforms. In addition to offering the contact tips in copper and chrome zirconium, Tregaskiss has an AccuLock HDP option. The HDP contact tips last more than 10 times longer than copper tips in pulsed MIG welding applications. As a result, companies can reduce unplanned downtime for contact tip changeover — and make those changeovers faster because of the easy-to-install design.
AccuLock R consumables can be implemented easily. Switching from many other consumables typically doesn’t affect TCP or robotic programming; however, it is best to consult directly with Tregaskiss to confirm this is the case.
For companies that have both robotic welding and semi-automatic welding operations, the AccuLock R consumables can simplify complex inventories. The contact tips are part of a Common Consumable Platform™ and can be used across a wide range of Tregaskiss® robotic and fixed automatic MIG guns, as well as with Bernard® semi-automatic MIG guns (ranging from 200 to 600 amps). This common contact tip can reduce inventory costs and lessens the opportunity for operators to install the wrong consumable. The AccuLock R gas diffuser also has a blue o-ring to distinguish it from other diffusers.
When companies find equipment solutions, like the AccuLock R consumables, that help reduce troubleshooting and downtime in their robotic welding operations, opportunities can increase. The ability to improve productivity and quality is at the forefront of those. But there may also be more time available to optimize the weld cell, make positive changes to workflow or material handling and seek out cost savings.In some cases, companies may also uncover issues in the weld cell that were previously masked by frequent contact tip changeovers. Now, however, there is more time address those to generate greater efficiencies in the operation.
In short, with the right consumables, there is more time to focus on reaching improvement targets and increasing throughput — and on implementing training that can help achieve those goals.
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