Collect footprint of welding operations

Posted by davisonmachinery on December 16th, 2016

Intentional collection, storage, and analysis of Welding Equipment process data has largely been avoided. Welding, for too long, has been solely considered an art at the expense of good engineering practices. The art of welding many times is at the center of an organizations setup, maintenance, and launch of welding applications. As a result, organizations tend to lack documentation, setup methods, and historical information. Procedures derived from information produce common launch practices, universal "best practice" weld procedures, expected productivity and utilization metrics, and historical analysis of preventive maintenance practices to name a few. In a report released by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Industrial Technologies titled Welding Technology Road Map, the report stated "The transition of welding over the coming decade to a rigorous science based on physical data will contribute greatly to the industry's success in achieving its vision." Information is and will be increasingly more the cornerstone of improving and advancing weld practices.

A common opinion, which becomes a barrier, is information driven practices are for fortune 500 companies. That is sorely untrue. Large companies are highly dependent on medium and small suppliers to provide a myriad of components. It is obvious the overall assembly is only as good as the weakest link. Best practices must be employed throughout the chain. The benefits are huge; multiplied efficiencies, information sharing, common practices throughout the supply chain. Consider a mobile work force that can transition from industry to industry utilizing universal practices and tools similar to an electrical engineer employing data acquisition techniques to develop PC electronics and automotive electronics. The electrical engineer uses the same oscilloscope in each capacity. The electrical engineer requires the same information. This should be the same in welding. The welding professional will utilize a universal tool to capture the same information whether the application is a car frame or heavy industry tractor. Information will drive setup, maintenance and production activities.

A read of the industry suggests a new openness to embrace information and its effective utilization. In order to marshall in such an opportunity, a welding AIDE is proposed; a process independent method defining the steps for continuous improvement. AIDE is a simple acronym and easy to remember. It can be the building block to a successful practice to continually improve arc weld operations.

Step 1: Audit - gather real-time weld process information and store creating a historical database

Goal: Collect footprint of welding operations

Metrics: Machine utilization, productivity, Weld Signature data acquisition

Step 2: Identify - analyze welding information creating knowledge base

Goal: Document weld process and measure process stability and repeatability

Metrics: weld process set point, repeatability of a given weld, number of welds per part, reasons for downtime.

Step 3: Detect - establish control limits and alert on loss of process control

Goal: Bound weld process and alert when violated

Metrics: detect missing welds, detect incomplete welds, detect process anomalies

Step 4: Engineer - use weld information coupled with welding knowledge to improve

Goal: Exploit weld process data to increase quality and velocity

Metrics: Clamshell Packaging Machine  operating range, reduced downtime, reduced process faults

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