Welder Training Tips To Help Improve Productivity
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Improving productivity in semi-automatic operations isn’t simply about welding faster and working harder. Instead, there are ways to create consistency in the process and support quality so that companies can avoid downtime that adversely affects throughput.
When training new welders, it’s important to provide a solid foundation of knowledge to achieve the best results. Taking the time to establish and expand welders’ skill sets shows welders companies are invested in them, and as welders gain more experience, they become more confident. The aim is to empower them and provide all the information necessary to be productive.
To instill good habits from the start, consider some key training tips.
Put safety first
A safe welder is a productive welder. By training new welders to follow welding safety protocols, there is less risk of lost productivity due to injury. Wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) is important. This includes a properly fitted helmet, safety glasses, flame-resistant jacket or sleeves, welding gloves and steel-toed, rubber-soled boots. If the process is prone to higher levels of fume generation, correct use of a respirator is necessary. Train welders to read and follow all equipment labels and their owner’s manual carefully before operating welding equipment. Training also includes checking the power source ground, securing workpieces in the best possible manner and keeping their heads out of the weld plume when welding.
Establish consistent weld prep
Following best practices for weld prep supports high weld quality, reduces rework and scrap, and improves productivity. As part of new welder training, welders should understand their power source settings, type and levels of the shielding gas being used, and how to clean the base material. Checking that all welding consumable connections are tight can minimize electrical resistance that could lead to burnbacks (the formation of a weld in the contact tip) and downtime for tip changeover.
Install welding consumables correctly
Downtime to address liner issues is common in semi-automatic welding operations and is typically caused by incorrect installation. This can lead to bird-nesting (a tangle of wire in the drive rolls), poor wire feeding, an erratic arc, wire chatter, burnbacks and more. Always use a liner gauge when trimming a liner; or consider a consumable system like AccuLock™ S, which provides error-proof liner installation without measuring. The liner locks and is aligned to the power pin and the contact tip to ensure proper wire feeding. New welders should also learn to install and tighten contact tips according to the consumable manufacturer’s recommendation.
Focus on comfort
Training welders to pay attention to their posture and the angle they hold their MIG welding gun can help reduce fatigue and the risk of welding-related musculoskeletal disorders that lead to lost productivity. Whenever possible, welders should position themselves so they are welding the workpiece in the range between their waist and shoulders. This may require a work stool or adjustable chair. Welders should also keep their hands and welding gun at or slightly below elbow height. Gaining good visibility to the weld joint can encourage proper posture.
Follow welding procedures
Welding procedure specifications (WPS) are a means to create consistency in the welding operation by taking the guesswork out of the process. This document outlines welding parameters, filler metal type and diameter, wire feed speed (WFS), weld pass sequence and more. Training new welders to follow the details in a WPS can help ensure that they produce quality welds and remain productive.
Use the right equipment
New welders should be trained to use the best equipment and tools for the job — and ones that best suit them. A MIG welding gun that fits the welder’s hand comfortably will help maximize their time when welding. Using a hammer for repositioning a part, as opposed to the MIG gun itself, can prevent damage to the gun that leads to downtime for repairs or replacement.
Likewise, having the correct wrench for installing gas diffusers or welpers for tightening contact tips helps ensure snug connections and lessens the opportunity for issues. Using the wrong tools or not tightening parts properly leads to loose connections that cause electrical resistance. This, in turn, increases heat and wears out the equipment prematurely.
Employ proper techniques
Welding techniques vary according to the process, the welding position and the thickness of the base material. For example, when MIG welding with solid or metal-cored wire, welders need to learn to use a push technique, while a flux-cored process requires a drag technique. Train welders on the proper gun angles for flat, horizontal and out-of-position welding applications so they are able to fill the joint with the appropriate amount of weld metal and avoid issues like lack of fusion.
Recognize signs of trouble
Training new welders to quickly identify issues in the welding process can minimize downtime for troubleshooting. They should be given the guidance to identify the causes of common problems like porosity, burnbacks, poor deposition and more, along with their solutions. Welders should also be able to recognize signs that equipment needs to be repaired or replaced — for example, a welding contact tip that is keyholing (wearing at the bore unevenly) or a gun that has nicks in the power cable. Companies can provide troubleshooting cards with quick checklists to keep in the weld cell as reminders.
Keep communication open
Clearly communicating expectations to new welders and having supervisors who are responsive to questions are vital parts of training. It is about both learning and listening. As training continues and welders grow their skill sets, it’s important to establish two-way feedback. This way everyone can find common ground on what best practices could be. In some cases, new welders may identify a way to improve the operation based on experience they have from another job.
Successful new welder training
When companies commit to providing thorough new welder training, the aim is to establish skills that lead to consistency in quality and reduce downtime. The more they can avoid secondary work or additional processes, the better productivity will be. Plus, supporting the comfort and safety of welders can help make sure they perform their best every day, build confidence and help retain them as employees.