Weld My World - Welding News

Managing Welding Costs

If you have an understanding of your welding costs and have been recording your costs, you can now begin to manage your welding costs.

GMAW/MIG Welding

Common areas of opportunity include procedural, overwelding, and gas leaks. A procedural change may be to set machines for the correct wire feed speed. Speeds slower than the optimal speed/quality setting could result in significantly less welding over the course of a year. The lax speed will result in higher labor and overhead rates, possibly even thousands of dollars over the course of a year. Overwelding could be the difference between making a 5/16" fillet weld where a 1/4" weld would do. This would result in an increase in the weight of weld metal, possibly as much as $1 per foot of weld.

Shielding gases that leak may increase cost. Compare gas consumption to actual weld time to identify a leak. Gas leaks can costs tens of thousands of dollars over time. To prevent gas leaks valves should be closed when not in use. Even if connections and hoses seem to be leak free, turn off valves at the end of the day, and at least over the weekend. Think of how expensive a bottle of helium would be over a weekend leaking. Other measures would include reducing gas delivery pressure and locking in flow rates. A proper flow rate will also control gas usage surges at the start of a weld. Listen for leaks. To identify leaks, listen during quiet time when the shop is shut down. You can also try the soap-bubble test. Test from the gas source to every welding station in the shop.

Switching Stainless to Save

If you're looking to save on your materials, switching from a 300 to 200 series grade of stainless may make a difference in your bottom line. The 300 series are Cr-Ni alloy. 200 series are Cr-Ni-Mn alloyed. 200 series has a lower cost due to lower Nickel content, yet it offers comparable corrosion performance. It has higher strength than the 300 series. Manganese stabilizes much the way Nickel does, but takes more for the same affect. Your filler metal may change with a 200 series stainless, but procedures and techniques are much the same.

Automating Welding to Reduce Costs

Let's say you're producing manual GTAW welds with filler and 50% of manufacturing labor hours are weld-related. If repeated welds can be mechanized and fit-up improved, an autogenous fusion weld could be done without filler wire. Aquafine, which makes commercial UV treatment systems, added an orbital welding system to their process. Using AMI software and Arc Machines equipment, they experienced a huge reduction in downtime. There is also no post-weld cleanup or grinding required, whereas previously Aquafine was spending up to 50% more labor hours grinding and cleaning to prep for electro-polishing. There are also Lathe Welding Systems being employed by the same company.

Other Money Saving Options

Could welding turntables be added to assist manual welders in circumferential welds? Would a dedicated work-cell environment for each welding step save travel time, set-up, and other valuable labor hours?

A little creativity and perhaps some insight from industry leaders will help you find ways to reduce your welding costs. If you have helpful tips to manage welding costs please leave them in the comments below.



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