- Supervision and Robot Welds.
|How many managers - supervisors - engineers
or technicians would walk past these MIG welders guys and
instabtly recognize there was a serious MIG weld process
quality, productivity and cost issue in this tier one automotive plant?
During the last 2 decades,
best Robot Weld Practices and
Robot Weld Process Controls have had little meaning at many automotive - truck plants in which the weld departments have been influenced by inexperienced, hands off, managers - engineers.
In many global manufacturing companies, it's too easy to find managers and engineers who lack the equipment and process fundamentals necessary to take ownership of the plants vital weld manufacturing equipment. Personnel like this tend to turn to outside advice and that advice too often comes from a sales individualual who's resume would reveal that they are not qualified to work in a weld department.
Nov. 2008: The following will tell you something about the general management
and engineering apathy and lack of weld process ownership too often found in throughout
the global weld industry.
In the majority of global plants that use welding robots, you will find a lack
of Best Weld Practices and Process Controls..
It's difficult in many plants, to find a manager who will accept full ownership,
and responsibility for the daily weld quality and productivity
 In many plants, the QA person
responsible for finding weld defects, often gets more
respect and more pay
than the technician who can prevent those costly weld defects.
In most plants the weld decision maker's job descriptions are none existent or poorly defined.
 The ratio of weld engineers to global
welding facilities is extremely low, yet when weld engineers or qualified technicians
are hired, perhaps
1 in 10 are given the full responsibility and made accountable
for the weld personnel that daily impact their weld quality and productivity.
The lack of "weld managers" in North America
is staggering. If someone wants to hire me, I refuse to look at any job
as the plant weld engineer. I inform the company or employment agency, that I
cannot control what I don't own, therefore I am only interested in a Weld Management
position in which I have the full management responsibility and ownership for the weld quality
and productivity attained.
you want to know how few global companies are looking for weld managers, go to
the world's largest job site www.monster.com, and in the keyword box, type in
two words, "weld manager".
you cannot separate
people from welds, the individual responsible for
the primary weld processes utilized on the shop floor must also be responsible
for the supervisors that impact the weld processes. Plants that are interested
in attaining consistent , optimum weld quality and productivity need first and
foremost a "Weld Manager".
In industries which daily immerse themselves with common, costly unnecessary weldissues, a frequent management crutch approach to solving the weld problems, is call
a supplier or salesman.
This of course will lead to a to discussion on the possible purchase
of of costly pulsed MIG weld equipment loaded with useless, electronic bells and whistles,
or perhaps you need to try
another useless, three part gas mix or an unnecessary metal cored wire.
optimum MIG welds have been made for five decades with traditional, low cost CV
equipment, simple two component gas mixes and MIG wires that have not changed
in decades, surely management has a responsibility to recognize, that too frequently
their weld issues are simply a result of lack of process expertise in their organizations.
The global MIG and flux cored welding industry is in general a self taught
industry which evolved from two simple manual weld processes, Stick and TIG. With
these two processes there is only a single primary weld current control, so minimal
weld shop focus was on the TIG and stick weld "process control" requirements,
while most focus was placed on the weld personnel"skill levels".
contrast to Stick and TIG welding, MIG equipment offers a variety of weld transfer
modes and all types of process challenges to optimize the short circuit, globular,
spray, pulsed, STT, RMD and CMT weld transfer modes, and don't forget the wide range of
flux cored weld wires that can also be used on the same MIG equipment.
is a simple one. Why would any company want it's weld personnel to utilize
MIG and flux cored weld processes, when that same company has not provided their
weld personnel with the weld best practices and process control
training necessary to attain consistent, optimum weld quality and productivity? For those
that work in a weld shop and are thinking, "our welders are experienced as
most have been welding for 20 years", please, always remember while at this
site, that weld skills have nothing to do with weld process control expertise.
you believe your key weld personnel have process control expertise, take a look
at the following weld tests and then ask your self, how well would my weld personnel
do with this test and would this type of type process expertise benefit our organization?
 Fundamental MIG Process Control Weld
 Fundamental Flux Cored Process Control
Process control solutions for any manual or robot
MIG and flux cored welds, available here.
is the only web site in North America that promotes the management / engineering
ownership message. I encourage managers and engineers to use the resources available
at this site to implement robot / manual
/ MIG / flux cored, best weld practices and process controls.
- 2004. Ford Truck Frames.
Condensed Weld Report on Ford Frame trucks,
from Ed Craig to a tier one supplier:
the intention of this report to deal with the root causes of the numerous robot
/ manual weld issues found on the Ford Frame truck robot line at your facility.
At this time your robot frame weld productivity is only 50 % of your goal and
daily,100% of the MIG welded robot frames require extensive rework. Of the 140
robot welds on a frame, typically 80 of the welds will require manual weld rework.
Of the sectioned critical welds that daily require macro examination of the weld
fusion, an average of 30 - 40% of the welds revealed lack of weld fusion. As the above
photo below indicates, many of the manual weld repairs to the robot welds are
poor quality. The numerous manual MIG weld repairs to the robot frame welds are
providing a patched product which provide both poor weld and steel integrity and
a poor visual weld appearance. The general management and engineering personell in your facility lack of
robot / manual weld process expertise in the plant. The
inappropriate, over size weld consumable
used in your plant and the selection of poor pulsed MIG equipment which never delivered consistent pulsed
weld transfer will daily continue to negatively impact your robot weld productivity
and quality potential. For the rest of the story click
Root Cause of Weld Issues:
FIVE DECADES OF POOR MIG WELD EDUCATION: The value of the present weld
education or the Lack of Weld Education: American
colleges and Universities may offer "weld degrees and weld courses" however few weld education facilities place emphasis
on teaching the potential weld engineers, technicians and weld personnel the ability to establish
effective Best Weld Practices / Weld Process Controls with weld processes such
as MIG and flux cored that account daily for more than 90% of the welds produced.
many colleges and university that provide weld programs, extensive time is often spent on classroom,
"text book weld processes" such as Lasers or Electron-Beam welds, yet
these two processes account for less than one thousand of one percent of the welds
If all weld students and engineers spent more practical and
classroom time on the best practices - process controls with the MIG, Pulsed MIG, Flux Cored
and Resistance Welding processes, the weld industry has the potential to generate hundreds
of millions of dollars daily through improved manual and robot weld productivity
WELD EDUCATION TIME WARP:
global, community colleges that provide weld programs are stuck in a 1960's time
warp. Each year these colleges spend thousands of training hours on their students
providing stick welding and oxy-fuel welding or focussing on MIG and flux cored
skills that are typically not correct. As there is rarely any focus on weld process control education, the
of students who graduate, typically end up as a MIG or flux cored welders that
"play around" with the weld controls.
Note: MIG and flux cored account
for approx. 90% of the welds produced each day, yet if the MIG and flux cored
weld tests provided at this web site was given to the weld educators and professors,
few would pass the tests.
A WELD EDUCATOR HAS TO UNDERSTAND THE WELD PROCESS NEEDS, BEFORE THEY CAN PROVIDE THE PROPER WELD EDUCATION. Unfortunately
in my life time, the global weld process education is not likely to see dramatic
improvement. As any one in a weld shop knows, you have to have the ability to
address a root cause of welding issues before you can recognize it and fix the problems.
As few universities or colleges hire engineering department heads, with the
ability to recognize what the welding industry needs, it's not likely they will
hire educators with the process qualifications necessary to resolve the welding
WELD PROCESS CONTROL APATHY IS INTERNATIONAL IN SCOPE: MIG
and flux cored weld process apathy is not a North American issue.
Europeans Engineers may love getting advice
from welding salesmen and playing around with the useless electronic welding bells
and whistles that they seem to admire, but few of these engineers have implemented
Best MIG / flux cored Weld Practices and few understand the MIG process fundamentals
necessary for manual or automated Weld Process Controls. Lets not forget the Japanese,
If these guys cannot stuff a robot cell or weld power source with electronic
bells and whistles, they get a migraine.
you are a young university trained weld engineer rather than get upset about the
above comments and curse the messenger, do something about it. The global welding
industry needs "hands on" engineers who are "Process
The Weld Industry
Engineers that can "without playing around with MIG and flux cored weld controls"
instantly produce cost effective, optimum, manual quality welds for any ferrous
or none ferrous application.
b] Engineers that can walk into a robot
cell and instantly recognize the root cause of the robot down time or weld issues
and immediately optimize the weld using any MIG weld transfer mode.
Engineers that can provide effective process control training programs, and have
the ability to establish Best Weld Practices in multi-plants if necessary.
Engineers that can look at a wire feed control and in less than 2 minutes tell
you the weld cost of that 1/4, 6 mm fillet weld.
e] Engineers that know the
difference between bells and and whistles and real world cost effective weld benefits
from weld equipment.
f] Engineers that always feel comfortable around
the global bread and butter processes such as MIG, flux cored, SAW, SMAW,
GTAW and Plasma
you are teaching your self, or providing weld process control training for others,
control resources are the key to attaining both manual and robot MIG and
flux cored weld
"A Management & Engineers Guide To MIG
Quality, Productivity & Costs"
unique robot MIG training or self teaching resource.
MIG Welds from Best Practices - Weld Process Controls".
unique manual MIG training or self teaching resource.
Manual MIG Weld Process Optimization from Best Practices - Weld
A unique Flux Cored training or self teaching resource.
"Optimum Manual - Automated Flux Cored Plate and
de Soldadura MIG Manual"
(MIG Made Simple. Self teaching in Spanish.
Self Teaching MIG Book/ Video.
Made Simple in English.
Ed's MIG / Flux Cored process control books and CD training
MANAGEMENT, WHAT IT HAS BEEN AND WHAT IT COULD BE.
DECADE AGO, A GLOBAL SUCCESSFUL AUTO / TRUCK FRAME MANUFACTURER WAS LOCATED IN WISCONSIN, THIS COMPANY WAS CALLED A.O. SMITH.
IN THE MID 1990's, A.O.SMITH
HAD MORE THAN A 1200 ABB ROBOTS USING MAINLY TRADITIONAL CV. MILLER DELTA
WELD 450 MIG EQUIPMENT, 0.045 WIRES AND A SIMPLE ARGON CO2 MIX. THE AUTO / TRUCK FRAMES
WERE WELDED WITH THE SPRAY TRANSFER MODE AT DEPOSITION RATES THAT AVERAGED OF
> 13 LB/HR.
A.O.SMITH STARTED OUT MAKING FRAMES FOR CADILAC IN 1904.
IN 1995 A.O.SMITH WAS THE ONLY GLOBAL CORPORATION TO ESTABLISH ROBOT MULTI-PLANT
WELD BEST PRACTICES AND EFFECTIVE ROBOT PROCESS CONTROLS. THEIR DAILY ROBOT WELD
REWORK WAS BY TODAY'S STANDARDS MINUSCULE AND THE ROBOT MIG PRODUCTION WAS BOTH
OPTIMUM AND CONSISTENT.
A O Smith worked on the simple philosphy that you get the best weld automation results from robots having the best technicians and engineers (highest paid). Theses guys did not need advice from a welding salesman
MARCH 2005: THERE IS NOT ONE AUTO / TRUCK FRAME
OR PART MANUFACTURER IN NORTH AMERICA THAT HAS COME CLOSE TO ATTAINING THE THE
SAME OPTIMUM DAILY ROBOT WELD PRODUCTION AND QUALITY ACHIEVED BY A.O.SMITH IN
THE NINETEEN NINETIES.
WELDING AUTO / TRUCK FRAMES FOR 93 YEARS, IN 1997, A.O.SMITH WAS PURCHASED BY
TOWER AUTOMOTIVE. I HAVE BEEN IN MANY TOWER PLANTS AND I SINCERELY BELIEVE THE
TOWER CORPORATE AND PLANT ENGINEERING MANAGEMENT
HAVE NEVER FULLY COMPREHENDED OR APPRECIATED THE TECHNICAL AND PROCESS EXPERTISE
THAT A.O. SMITH KNEW WAS NECESSITY TO ATTAIN OPTIMUM, CONSISTENT ROBOT WELD RESULTS.
AS EACH DAY PASSES, THROUGH
NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN, AMERICAN
WORKERS AND THEIR CHILDREN LOOSE THEIR FUTURE ABILITY TO EARN A DECENT WEEKLY
IT'S SAD IN THIS SHRINKING MANUFACTURING ENVIRONMENT THAT AN AMERICAN MANUFACTURING
GIANT LIKE TOWER AUTOMOTIVE, WITH IT'S HANDS OFF, INEFFECTIVE ENGINEERS AND
MANAGERS HAS ADDED TO THE EMPLOYMENT MISERY IN THE USA. TOWER
TOOK A PROUD 90 YEAR OLD COMPANY LIKE A.O.SMITH AND IN LESS THAN A DECADE THE
MANAGEMENT DELIVERED THEM IN 2005 TO A CHAPTER 11.
Bob Lutz the Vice Chairman of GM finally speaks out on the expertise
of some of his engineers. During a speech to the at the Society of Automotive Engineers, GM Vice Chairman
Bob Lutz states, that US. auto manufacturers could streamline and improve their design process,
if American design engineers were trained more like their Asian or European counterparts.
Bob continues, "we are actually training our North American engineers to
be "managers" while the rest of the world trains the engineers to be doers".
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CARS & TRUCKS,
ROBOTS, WELD REPAIRS AND HUNTING:
AT A FORD FRAME PLANT IN
DETROIT, THE ROBOT MIG WELD REWORK ON THE TRUCK FRAMES WAS DAILY 100%. IF THE WORK
FORCE AT THIS PLANT WAS NOT HUNTING ON THE WEEKENDS THEY USED TO COME IN AND PROVIDE
UNQUALIFIED STICK WELD REPAIRS ON TOP THE THE PATHETIC LOOKING ROBOT MIG WELDS.
AT FORD QUALITY IS DEFINATELY
THE STICK WELD REPAIRS ON THOSE EXPENSIVE TRUCK FRAMESM ARE OF COURSE COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE (CRAP ON TOP OF CRAP RESULTS IN WHAT?) AS ARE THE
MAJORITY OF THE MIG FRAME WELDS THAT DON'T GET REPAIRED. THE REPAIR RESULT IS A WELDING
MESS. THE ISO APPROVED, BLACK BELT FRAME PLANT MANAGERS AND ENGINEERS HAVE FOR DECADES SHOWN THAT THEY HAD LITTLE INTEREST IN THE MANUFACTURING PROCESSES USED TO JOIN THEIR CARS AND TRUCKS. IT'S A PITY THE CONSUMERS OF THESE OVER PRICED VEHICALS DID NOT GET TO SEE
THE STRUCTURAL MESS THEY CALL THE FRAMES.
SIX WEEKS, THE PANASONIC ROBOT TEAM COULD NOT GET
ROBOTS TO PRODUCE
SIMPLE EXHAUST WELDS.
me it was another one of those annoying Japanese, Panasonic robot applications.
Thanks to the Panasonic engineers, we had another simple weld application made
complex. After six weeks the Panasonic personnel and Panasonic robot integrator
could not get their new robot to consistently place two small welds, 15 mm in length.
The welds were made on a carbon steel rod to a thin gage galvanealed part (exhaust bracket). The exhaust hanger bracket was poorly designed by engineers
at Honda. The Panasonic robot personnel had given up on the robot weld project and left the
plant. The part supplier had five days left before production was supposed
begin and thats typically when I get the call. For the rest of the story click here.
I believe many of the ineffective, global
robot manufacturing engineers and managers, especially those in the automotive industry have a common denominator. Many of these guys
(its mostly men) are part of the generation born after 1970, I call these guys the ND "No
The ND generation typically needs a team to
make a rational, simple manufacturing weld decision, yet they often don't recognize
the team requirements for the implementation of Best Practices or Process Controls. The reality is if one guy knows what he is doing, you dont need a team to figure out the problem, however you may need a team to implement the resolution.
This ND geneeration frequently likes to skim the surface of a subjectm you know theses guys thet read the history of Rome in two afternoons. These guys typically
lacks depth in the manufacturing processes that provide their weekly pay checks.
YOU MIX WELD MANAGEMENT PROCESS APATHY WITH WELD SALESMANSHIP BIAS AND SHOP FLOOR
PROCESS IGNORANCE YOU CAN END UP WITH SERIOUS WELD PROBLEMS. NEXT
TIME YOU WANT WELD ADVICE GIVE A LITTLE CONSIDERATION TO WHERE IT'S COMING FROM AND WHO BENEFITS.
$ALESMANSHIP LEADS A TECHNICAL INDUSTRY,
THAT INDUSTRY HAS TO PAY AN UNACCEPTABLE
MIG: For more
than forty years the major MIG weld equipment manufactures have been MIG process control
impotent and were unable to assist manual welders with MIG process optimization, this left
an industry in which for decades the majority of skilled workers "play around" with a two control
MIG weld process.
FLUX CORED: For thirty years, weld sales reps from the major flux cored consumable manufacturers
could not help the welding industry gain universal acceptance of the simple to
operate, two control, all position, gas shielded flux cored electrodes. As the
weld sales personnel who demonstrated the product and the welders who initially tried the flux cored
wires, rarely set optimum weld parameters, these wires went through a ridiculous
slow growth that took decades. And the sad reality is in 2013 the wires - welds are rarely optimized.
WELDING GAS MIXES: For more thirty years the major
industrial gas manufacturers have been promoting three parts gas mixes for carbon
steels and to add to the confusion, We now have close to forty, two component MIG
gas mixes available in North America. The weld reality for steel and stainless
MIG welds is not one single weld benefit is attained from a three part gas mix
and the sad reality is four part gas mixes are on their way. For those interested there are only three two part gas mixes required for all steels and alloy steel welds.
MIG STEELS: For more than twenty five years the major weld
equipment manufacturers have promoted costly, electronic pulsed MIG equipment
for carbon steel welds. In all that time this sensitive, costly equipment has
shown on the majority of the world's steel applications that pulsed MIG provides
no practical welding quality or production benefits.
Management and the Lincoln Power Wave, Pulsed MIG Ford Axle Cracks:
you want to make your weld manufacturing life more expensive, more complex and
less meaningful than it needs to be, you should always listen to that weld salesman.
-2000: My weld task appeared simple. A tier one, axle manufacturer, American Axle located in
Michigan ordered two robot systems to weld truck axles. The company I worked for
supplied the robots, we were also responsible for setting up the robot cells that
would provide one million axles annually. When the robot cells were complete,
as part of the contract, we were required to provide a few thousand welded axles
as part of the robot cell run off, little did I know about the pulsed MIG weld cracking issues
that were about to occur.
For the rest of the story click here.
DAY MANAGERS AND ENGINEERS WILL TAKE
BACK CONTROL OF THE WELDS IN THEIR PLANTS
YOU RELATE TO THIS MANAGEMENT ISSUE? JOE, WE ARE HAVING SO MANY MIG WELDING ISSUES
AT THIS PLANT, YOU TELL ME, WHO THE HELL IS IN CONTROL OF THOSE ROBOTS?
Who's in charge of the robots. A simple question, yet a question that would cause
controversy for many global managers, engineers and supervisors.
The MIG process has been around for more than five decades and the flux
cored process for more than three decades. When the MIG or flux cored welding
was carried out by manual welders, management involvement was typically none existent.
Why get involved? The managers would typically let their welders "play around"
with their MIG controls, and make sure they made sparks and smoke. Controlling
weld costs for many managers and supervisors, well that's a simple function, you
simply keep your eyes on the prices you pay for the MIG wire and gas mixes.
THE MANUAL WELD WORLD,
CAME THE WELDING ROBOTS.
was a manual MIG welder, the shop is bringing in robots
so we are going to have to cut
out his "play around" organ.
In today's robot welding world, where few welding supervisors, engineers or mangers
are hired for their "weld best practices - process control knowledge",
the responsibility for the robot weld quality and productivity is often laid on
the back of a very frustrated, over worked robot technician who also has never received
weld MIG process control training.
In other plants the management and engineers place
the weld process control responsibility on the shoulders of those highly qualified
weld process control experts, the electricians and millwrights in the maintenance department.
management does not know what it's doing it frequently places weld responsibility
on the wrong shoulders.
SHOPS, RISE ABOVE THE PLAY AROUND MENTALITY.
IT COMES TO RESOLVING ROBOT WELD PROCESS ISSUES, MANY AUTOMOTIVE PLANTS HAVE FOUND
OUT THAT PICKING FIVE GUYS FROM THE WELD OR ROBOT SHOP DOES NOT ALWAYS MAKE
AN EFFECTIVE TEAM.
The ratio of engineers to shop floor workers is usually the highest
in companies that each day produce high production volumes. In auto / truck corporations
and tier one suppliers, engineers are typically in abundance and the majority
of the manufacturing issues they are typically struggle with daily are usually
found in three process areas, all typically lacking process control expertise;
The weld shop.
 The paint shop.
 The press shop.
manufacturing process issues that result daily with the common manufacturing processes
in most manufacturing plants, is usually a reflection of the lack of management
understanding of the fundamental process / equipment requirements for the implementation
of process controls.
|If you have a better attitude, You may want to
look at Ed's books and training CD resources
FRUSTRATED BIG THREE VICE PRESIDENT OF MANUFACTURING SPELLS
IT OUT TO JOE, THE
TIER ONE PLANT MANUFACTURING MANAGER:
IT JOE. IF YOU CANNOT CONTROL THE ROBOT WELDS WITH THE MILLIONS WE SPENT AND ALL
OUR ENGINEERING EXPERTISE, OUT SOURCE THE BLOODY PARTS, OR BETTER STILL SHIP THE
ROBOTS AND PARTS DOWN TO MEXICO WHERE WE CAN BURY THE BLOODY WELD ISSUES WITH CHEAP
At a Volvo heavy equipment manufacturing facility in Asheville,
North Carolina, the plant weld manager ran an add in the local paper looking for
"skilled welders" to run his welding robots. As I live in Asheville, I phoned
the manager and asked why bother looking for or paying for skilled welders, when
the robots you purchased are supposed to provide the "welding skills".
optimization of MIG welding robots will not come from skilled welders who typically
lack process control expertise, it will be derived from expert robot programming and robot
personnel who have been trained in MIG process controls.
MANAGER'S LACK OF AWARENESS OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR EFFECTIVE WELD PROCESS CONTROLS
WILL BE EVIDENT IN THE PLANT'S ROBOT PERSONNEL JOB DESCRIPTIONS.
welding robots bring unique requirements to an industry that for five decades
has placed more focus on manual weld skills rather than on weld process expertise.
DEFINED JOB DESCRIPTIONS ARE A RARITY
IN MOST GLOBAL ROBOT WELDING SHOPS.
COMMON DENOMINATOR OF THE GLOBAL MIG WELDING INDUSTRY
you CHICKLETS MIGLETS, we have to
rely on him, after all he is a
a robot technician or supervisor requires weld process advice for a robot issue,
the advice will rarely come from the manufacturing manager's or engineers office,
it usually comes through the door from the local welding distributor sales rep.
many weld shops rely on the advice of the local, weld distributor salesmen, an
individual who typically has never worked in a weld shop or set a MIG welding
robot, an individual that has to be biased to the product lines he sells.
the sales based weld advice or the costly pulsed weld equipment bells and whistles
do not attain the desired robot weld results, the next step for management is
seek advice from the companies who make the weld equipment or consumables that
are not working the way they should be.
Once the bovine fecal matter from
the power source manufacturers has been spooned out and the results again found
to be disappointing, it's not surprising to find the engineers and managers withdrawing
from the shop floors to their offices where they start to build a glass wall that
will protect themselves from the weld shop. You may know a few of these managers
or engineers as they rarely show enthusiasm for process ownership. You may have
seen those glass walls as they can be found in the majority of manufacturing facilities
throughout the industrial world.
2008: WITH MANY OF TODAY'S MANUFACTURING
MANAGERS, THE WELD REWORK - PRODUCTION FAULT IS ALWAYS WITH SOMEONE ELSE.
IT JOE WE HAVE OVER TWO MILLION DOLLARS INVESTED IN THAT ROBOT LINE. WE HAVE SPENT
TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND ON TRAINING AND YET THE ROBOT WELD REWORK RATE IS OVER FORTY
PERCENT AND OUR PRODUCTION EFFICIENCY STINKS. NOW LOOK ME IN THE EYE AND KEEP
TELLING ME THE PROBLEM IS WITH THE PEOPLE ON THE SHOP FLOOR.
the introduction of robots into a traditional manual manufacturing facility, it's
logical to assume the robots would influence the management, engineers and manual
work force, or perhaps at least create changes to the existing weld shop culture
and environment. It's also logical to assume that the manual weld shop environment,
it's culture and practices could negatively influence and contaminate the performance
potential of the robots. In this common manufacturing environment, management
and engineers will require a unique approach to establish best practices and process
controls. Dramatic changes will often have to be implemented
and with this in mind, it's not difficult to understand why many managers, engineers
and shop floor workers would strive to retain their traditional status quo.
A ship will go round in circles without the leadership
of the captain and qualified, "hands on" engineers. Robot optimization
requires weld process expertise. If you are a manager or engineer involved in
robot weld decisions and have not acquired this process expertise which only requires an eight hour class room training program.
I hope you now realize you are the prime cause of the robot of the quality and
productivity issues in your plant.
JOE, IT'S TIME FOR A
The last two decade has radically changed the weld shop engineering and "management"
requirements yet few managers and engineers have risen to the challenge.
many weld departments, "change" is the
most difficult thing to implement. However when robots are
moved into the traditional "manual weld shop culture", the weld process
control changes required to optimize robot weld production may be radical and
will require managers who don't hide behind glass walls.
A WELD DECISION MAKER IS AWARE OF THE WELDING PAST,
THEY LEARNS FROM IT.
make meaningful, weld process control changes, one can benefit by examining why
the typical past manufacturing weld practices are in most instances simply not
effective for robot weld lines. Managers when you walk through your weld shop
please remember the following.
INFLUENCE. Managers and engineers responsible for welding need to be aware
that the MIG welding industry has been influenced
by decades of inappropriate, inaccurate, weld process and product sales advice.
PROCESS APATHY. A prime reason that extensive weld process confusion exists in
plants that utilize MIG robots is managers often avoid dealing with the root causes
of MIG weld process issues.
ENGINEERING PROCESS APATHY. Most engineers
including weld engineers responsible for welding robots have minimal "weld
process control expertise", these guys too often leave the robot cells to
the less qualified robot technicians.
DOUBLE STANDARDS PEOPLE. It's
a weld fact that in the MIG welding industry, there is a double standard when
it comes to judging welding expertise. Decades of focus on weld skills with minimal
focus on weld process expertise, has created a unique industry. After all which
other 100 year old industry would allows it's workers to play with it's primary
DOUBLE STANDARDS TOLERANCES. Few mangers have shown
concern for the 3 and 6 mm gaps and poor fit that is often part of the manual
weld world. Blind robots are less forgiving, yet thanks to common apathetic manufacturing
management and engineering standards, the majority of parts that end up in a robot
cell, do not meet the design dimensional tolerances.
Unique, Traditional Weld Shop Culture. As
a manager, engineer or primary weld decision maker, you are aware that every manufacturing
plant has it's "traditional way of doing things".
department in the plant will have it's unique pecking order and personnel cliques,
after all these department are just a combination of human nature and slow welding
evolution. This is the weld department untouched by management for decades. This
is the weld department entrenched in manufacturing practices that have changed
little since the 1960s. Combine all the above mentioned elements in a copper pot
along with self taught, shop floor individuals who are usually strong willed,
thick skinned, highly opinionated. In the same pot, combine stuck in a time warp
union mentality with two hands of apathetic management. Then slowly mix in a batch
of weld process myths and take a big wooden spoon and stir in an overdose of bovine
fecal biased, weld sales hype. Finally mix all these together for more than five
decades and out pops the unique, MIG weld shop culture that in the twenty first
century will keep many managers in a state of exhausted frustration.
controlling weld costs, is worrying less about the cost of the weld wires and
gas mixes, and being more concerned and aware about weld process controls and
the daily weld deposition rates that should be attained. Ed simplifies weld costs
in all his training resources.
weld shops considering the purchase of a robot,
at the end of the
day it's not about the robots, its about the daily, weld quality - productivity produced
|IF THE WELD SHOP MANUAL MIG WELDERS PLAYED AROUND WITH THEIR WELD CONTROLS, WHERE IS THE WELD PROCESS EXPERTISE GOING TO COME FROM TO MAKE THAT DUMB ROBOT PERFORM TO ITS FULL WELD POTENTIAL?
a robot purchase? For
those job shops that want to do low to medium volume, ever changing steel / stainless
robot weld applications, give serious consideration to the following;
 When you examine each robot manufacture's product don't get caught up with
the bells and whistles and fancy electronic pulsed MIG power source with it's
1 billion wave forms. Stay focused on the practical weld capability of the robot
 When an integrator advises you to use pulsed for that steel
application remember the information at this site.
 Examine the length
of time required to both program a common part and especially the time required
to make weld changes to different welds.
 Examine the ease in which
weld data wire feed, voltage or pulsed parameter changes are made.
Examine the logic layout of the welding program,
 Examine the calibration
accuracy between pendant and power source weld data.
Examine the automated TCP capability and repeatability.
 Examine the
ease of making touch sense and through the arc tracking changes. Also carefully
examine how effective and consistent these valuable features are.
Examine the weld weave program especially the logic of the program.
Examine the accuracy and repeatability of the robot with the positioner utilized.
 Examine the complexity of programming the robot to work with secondary
equipment such as the positioner and torch cleaning stations.
Don't even consider buying a robot unless it can show that it will attain "100
weld success" with the applications intended.
 Examine the robot
instruction literature, the technical support and service capability, and most
important, figure out during your initial discussions with the integrator or equipment
reps, who's' supplying the most bovine fecal matter.
REMEMBER THE ROBOT YOU ARE CONSIDERING MAY
APPEAR TO WORK WELL IN AN AUTO PLANT WHERE THEY RARELY CHANGE THE WELD PROGRAMS
AND THE POOR INCONSISTENT ROBOT WELD QUALITY IS ADDRESSED BY ADDING WORKERS TO
THE END OF THE ROBOT LINE TO FIX THE DAILY WELD REWORK. HOWEVER WILL THIS SAME
ROBOT MAKE THE GRADE IN A WELD SHOP THAT'S SERIOUS ABOUT WELD QUALITY REPEATABILITY, ROBOT PROGRAMMING EASE OF USE, AND FAST PROGRAMING CAPABILITY.
WANT A GREAT COMPARISON OF CONFUSION VERSUS WELD LOGIC, COMPARE THE DIFFERENCES
BETWEEN A JAPANESE PANASONIC ROBOT AND A SWEDISH ABB ROBOT ARC WELD PROGRAM WITH
IT'S PRACTICAL REAL WORLD FEATURES.
TECH WORKERS: Instead
of managing manual skilled or semi-skilled workers, today weld managers, supervisors
and engineers may have to manage robots and lasers along with the high tech individuals
that support and set up the complex equipment. With
this in mind it's therefore logical that both managers and engineers should give
extensive consideration to the engineering - human requirements for optimizing the robot
weld quality and productivity.
MANAGERS, consider the "technical expertise" necessary for those shop floor individuals
responsible for setting and operating arc welding robots, consider
the benefits of effective robot or manual "weld process control training",.
consider the floor management and engineering,
expertise necessary for the implementation of automated weld process controls.
MANAGERS, evaluate your robot engineers, technicians
and robot operators "job descriptions". Fill in the missing links for
process controls and provide the necessary training.
MANAGERS, consider your corporate "product
liability consequences" The consequences that will arise from the inconsistent
practices and the daily unqualified robot weld changes that take place with your
NOT JUST THE MIG WELDING PROCESS THATS A MESS.
WITH MOST CARS - TRUCKS, TAKE A LOOK AT THE MESS THEY CALL SPOT WELDS
the welding world, for every MIG welding robot that is not welding at peak performance,
there are twenty resistance welding robots out of control and if you really want
to see other process issues visit a stamping plant or robot paint line.
walk through many automotive plant's robot resistance welding department, would
likely reveal that the resistance spot weld data monitors and electronic process
controls that have been available since the seventies, are typically none existent,
none functional or simply turned off.
Some of the resistance welding
robots when striking the cars and truck steel bodies will give of great showers
of weld sparks, others resistance welders will clamp their jaws together with
barely an electrical whimper. The bottom line, the resistant spot weld quality
in many plants is typically so inconsistent that for every spot weld required
on a car or truck, engineers are now in the habit of requesting three or four
extra welds be applied.
many manufacturing plants,
when it comes to the robot MIG welding, the management will
often make the unqualified maintenance department responsible for the robot weld
In more than 1000 plants I have never seen a
maintenance shop that has employed a person who had any expertise in robot
MIG process controls. I have seen many maintenance personnel who can use MIG equipment
after "playing around" with the two simple controls.
effective robot weld process control changes is typically doomed for disaster
if it commences in the maintenance department. The following data will hopefully
assist management and engineers in the task of achieving MIG weld process optimization.
Pulsed MIG welds made with a Lincoln Power Wave.
weld was made by a Lincoln power source that can cost up to $12,000.00. I believe
this power source was overpriced by at least $10.000.00, however the welds you see are not the
fault of the infamous, costly Lincoln pulsed PowerWave. This Ford frame weld simply points
to the manufacturing management ignorance at one of North America's leading frame
Robot welds like these are common in the auto / truck industry. It's easy to fix
weld problems like this, that is if you can find manufacturing managers who are
sincere about finding out the real root causes of their daily robot weld process
you are a manager or engineer looking for a no nonsense approach to your welding
issues, consider Ed's process control CD power point training
YOUR ROBOT WELD PRODUCTIVITY:
training will immediately enable many of your robot cells to increase the robot
welding productivity by 20 to 40%.
ROBOT WELD PROCESS CONTROLS:
The training provides the tools to implement effective robot weld process controls
to provide daily, "consistent" weld quality and productivity.
GLOBAL MANUFACTURING PRACTICES: The training is the key to setting practical realistic
global manufacturing standards to your companies welded parts.
The training is the only program available that shows robot weld defects and
then shows how to ensure you don't make defective welds.
most plants stuck in a long established weld shop culture, change may be the most
difficult thing to implement. Why not use Ed's process control training resources
as your catalyst for change.
FEW ENGINEERING MANAGERS IN THE AUTO INDUSTRY SEEM
TO UNDERSTAND THAT ATTAINING OPTIMUM ROBOT WELD QUALITY DOES NOT REQUIRE
A BLACK BELT, A WHITE SHIRT WITH AN OSU TIE, OR AN UNDERSTANDING OF CONFUSED JAPANESE MANUFACTURING PRACTICES:
there is a common theme in many manufacturing plants that "if you can control
the plant's paper work you can control the manufacturing processes".
While there may be a positive, manufacturing attribute attained from ISO,
(I have yet to find a practical one) the cost, implementation, complexity, scope
and the compliance of ISO conformance, from my perspective robs an organization
of valuable engineering resources that could be better utilized. Unfortunately
this European driven bureaucratic nightmare in American plants often masks the
work of "inexperienced inefficient decision makers" who simply don't
have the manufacturing process expertise necessary to implement effective process
controls, yet justify their pay through their ability to churn out paperwork.
When it comes to weld process controls,
it's the fundamentals such as:
management capability and involvement in "manufacturing process ownership".
management's "recognition of an employee's required weld process expertise"
and the necessary training required.
day to day management of weld process controls, that are fundamental tools for
attaining consistent, optimum quality robot welds.
ROBOTS & WELD MANAGEMENT FACTS:
general, and of course there are always exceptions. Effective "MIG Welding Best
Practices or effective Robot Weld Process Controls" have not been implemented
at the majority of ISO global manufacturing plants that produce robot MIG welds.
weld process controls are not derived from AWS specifications, the QA department,
the advice of salesmen, weld / consumable manufacturers, or from the latest lean
weld process controls require that engineers and workers be trained in the weld
process and consumable requirements and the required shop floor practices and
disciplines necessary for consistent weld quality.
robot weld process controls requires that management and engineers ensure the
pre-qualified weld data is maintained daily.
robot weld process controls requires effective PM programs maintained by personnel
who have actually received weld process training.
YOU BEEN IN A WELD SHOP LIKE THIS?:
you looked around the weld shop you saw no uniformity. There was MIG equipment
from Miller, Lincoln, Hobart, Linde and Airco. In
the daily quest to find a crutch or magic weld solution to the numerous "manual"
weld shop issues,
the weld shop manager purchased MIG weld equipment from just about every company
that ever made it. When the new MIG welding equipment did not resolve the numerous
weld shop issues, these same shops would turn their attention to trying the latest
MIG gas or new welding wire.
THE BIGGEST CON GAME IN THE WELD BUSINESS
HAS ALWAYS INVOLVED WELD GAS MARKETING.
should know about MIG gases as I helped write the AWS shielding MIG gas specifications.
For several years I attended the AWS gas committee meetings. I always took a king
sized shovel which helped me to scrape up the very product biased bovine fecal
matter that spewed out of some of the committee, gas marketing managers mouths.
In the welding supermarket you will find approx. 40 MIG gas mixes for welding carbon steels.
From my perspective only three MIG gas mixes are required to provide optimum welds
for all carbon, low alloy and stainless steel applications. The frequent, erroneous MIG gas
mix marketing statements that for decades spewed forth from the major, industrial
gas manufacturers always provided a ray of hope for the inexperienced, frustrated
weld department manager, who struggles daily to get his employees to control the
50 year, old two control MIG process.
the advice of their local gas supplier, many shops will try any new gas mix that
comes along. After all the major gas companies must know what they are doing,
right? and who can refute the gas weld data presented by the salesman with his
glossy new brochures. The weld shops that has a wide variety of useless gas mixes
sitting on the weld shop floor will also have a variety of unnecessary MIG and
flux cored welding consumables sitting on the shelves. Its not just welding that
causes issues, for the shop, when it comes to cutting the steels, few shops understand
the real difference between propane, propylene, natural gas or acetylene, and
for gods sake don't ask anyone in the for a cost analysis of a 6 mm fillet weld
or an oxy fuel cut versus a plasma cut.
& GLOBAL WELD MANUFACTURING STANDARDS?
For the big three or tier one executives that like to discuss global
manufacturing strategy and the implementation of "Global Manufacturing Standards"
the following weld reality is likely to exist in their plants.
If a USA auto
/ truck manufacturing company has three sister plants in the same city or state
and these plants make similar, steel welded parts, lets say shocks, exhausts or
steering products. You can typically guarantee that each plant will weld the same
parts using different weld equipment, different weld consumables along with different
welding procedures. Of course these manufacturing differences will result in obvious
inconsistencies in the welding productivity and quality attained at each plant.
THE WELD INDUSTRY IS A
GLOBAL DUMPING GROUND FOR USELESS, COSTLY BELLS / WHISTLES.
have provided weld process optimization consulting services in thirteen countries and it did not
matter if the country was, Canada, Japan, Sweden, Germany, Italy, or the UK, around the globe I
found MIG weld process confusion to be the norm. Another thing most of the countries
have in common, is most of the large manufacturing companies like to "purchase weld equipment loaded with useless, costly bells and whistles".
In general the management in many large manufacturing companies believe
that the purchase of the bells and whistles will compensate for the so called
"people weld process issues". It's ironic that the big three corporate
executives who do not have the expertise to control the processes in their own
plants, talk of their desire for the latest weld technology and the implimentation of "Uniform Global Manufacturing Standards".
OF WELD PROCESS OWNERSHIP.
For almost forty years, life in the welding shop was simple. Fitters and machinist
used their expertise for forming and assembling the parts to be welded. Welders
played with the controls and used their manual skills to join the parts, and the
maintenance department used their skills to repair and maintain the equipment
a manufacturing / engineering perspective, the front office engineers working
in the weld shop environment were typically involved in part design, establishing
weld procedures, purchasing weld equipment, and when solving a weld issue, they
may pick up the phone and ask the local sales rep to call at their facility.
weld application ownership has to be a management, design engineering and worker
partnership. Today's robot weld reality is that weld ownership is typically controlled
by shop floor workers who frequently lack the required process expertise to implement
effective, automated weld process controls.
"WE DID OUR JOB": The management and engineering
team are under the impression they had carried out their weld shop responsibility.
After all they approved the budgets for the robot capital expenditures. They then
brought the robots into the weld department. Now all the "weld team"
had to do, was ensure that each shift produced the desired robot weld productivity
and parts that required no weld rework.
To achieve partially acceptable robot welds, many companies
would place a "mechanical or electrical engineer in charge of the welding
robot weld line and make him this unqualified engineer the "weld team leader".
They would then place a skilled welder in the cell to operate a robot that provides
the skills. Also to ensure consistent weld quality the highly weld process qualified,
maintenance electrician, millwright or robot operator is daily allowed to make
the robot welding changes to so called
pre-qualified welds. Of
course welding responsibility in many automotive plants is affected by unions
and their often "out dated seniority clauses" that put the wrong man
on the job. It's common in manufacturing facilities to find that the robot operators
are allowed to make welding changes which can effect the part integrity and the
daily weld production.
MANUFACTURING MANAGEMENT APATHY. At AG Simpson a Canadian
company that makes bumpers for GM trucks, the management invited me to the plant
to solve what they thought was a serious robot weld issue which was a special concern to GM. When I arrived at
the plant the "hands off I dont except ownership" manager said I must first meet with the shop steward to get approval
to work with the robots.
I had the meeting and won the union steward
over and got his approval to provide robot process control training for the employees.
It took me a short time to fix the robot issues. It was notable that when I provided
the one day classroom training program for the shop floor workers that none of the
plant managers supervisors or engineers attended.
General Motors was ready
to shut this supplier down because of its robot weld issues and the management
and engineers did not attend the classroom session that provided the robot weld
resolutions. Of course this would not happen in your plant.
many manufacturing plants the unions and management would benefit by reviewing
the union agreements from a "weld automation perspective". Unions at
one time believed robots to be a key cause of job loss, eventually the unions
found out that manufacturing companies that adopted robots were the ones that
retained the work and grew.
SHOULD BE A NORMAL MANAGEMENT FUNCTION TO CORRECTLY
DEFINE, THE ROBOT JOB DESCRIPTIONS
OF THE PLANT EMPLOYEES.
could ask ten plant managers in ten different auto - truck plants to define the
following three job descriptions.
 the manual MIG welder,
MIG welding robot operator,
 the robot programmer.
I can guarantee that nine out of the ten will either have no job descriptions, or innapropriate job descriptions.
Weld Programmers and Weld Process Control Expertise:
process expertise & the required controls to optimize a robot has never required
a person with a university or college degree, it does however require a combination
of in-depth robot programming and extensive
weld process control expertise. This fundamental message will come as a shock to many
Japanese plant managers and HR directors who simply do understand what's required
for robot process controls.
Weld Fact: They don't
teach what you need to know about robot weld process controls at any college or
university in North America". If any technical college or university disagrees
with this point, invite me to your facility and in less than one hour with your
fourth year weld engineering students and instructors, I will prove otherwise.
Weld process expertise & the required controls to optimize a robot does not
require biased, inexperienced weld advice from MIG weld equipment and consumable
Weld process expertise & the required controls to optimize a robot is rarely
influenced by the QA department welding personnel. Too frequently the inspectors
who are critical of weld quality have never bothered to learn the practical weld
process knowledge necessary to provide the welding solutions to their criticism.
unions and management would do well to review their robot weld job descriptions.
The weld job descriptions in too many plants are typically based on "manual
 It's simply illogical in 2005 for any manufacturing
plant to work under a labor contract that has clauses or labor requirements that
will hinder the success of weld automation.
Here's a mouthful for weld team meeting. "The
majority of robot weld issues are simply "Management Issues".
Best Practices and Process Controls Starts With "Qualified Weld Management".
today, in many manufacturing companies, the management and engineers involved
in welding are too frequently insulated from,
[a] the weld shop floor
[b] the developing shop floor manufacturing technology.
Maybe I am old fashioned, but on a ship, if the captain and officers show little
interest in the ships operating equipment, you know the ships crew is going to
run the ship their way. In
many instances experienced robot programmers can always use more advanced robot
program training and all experienced robot programmers would benefit from more
weld process expertise.
PROCESS CONTROL EDUCATION STARTS AT THE TOP.
respond to the high tech automaton challenge of the next decade, it would be beneficial
if the "technical caliber" of engineers and mangers responsible for
the automation could be taken up a notch.
The first step on the path of process or equipment familiarization is for the
managers and engineers to take the manufacturing process training programs they
should be asking their workers to take.
You will find that most shop
floor workers will increase their respect for management and engineers when they
see them rolling up their sleeves and striving to learn about the core processes
and equipment that are critical to their company. With MIG welding, It can come from simply reading my self teaching
MIG process control training book.
TWO OF THE BEST ROBOT INTEGRATORS IN NORTH AMERICA USE THE
BEST WELD PROCESS CONTROL TRAINING CD PROGRAM.
ED'S MIG ROBOT WELD PROCESS CONTROL TRAINING BOOK / VIDEO ARE USED
IN THE USA BY GENESIS ROBOT TECHNICIANS AND IN CANADA BY PRODOMAX ROBOT PERSONNEL.
THESE TWO COMPANIES ARE TWO OF THE LARGEST AND MOST QUALIFIED ROBOT INTEGRATORS
IN NORTH AMERICA. Click here.
OPERATORS: Few operators have a clearly defined job description. These personnel need specific manufacturing instructions, training on evaluating welds and require some process expertise. Operators should
be able to understand what a change in weld "arc sounds means" and the resulting weld changes that will occur in the robot cells. Operators must also understand what an acceptable weld
looks like and what they have responsibility in the cell for. Operators must also
be trained on what they "must not do" to those pre-qualified welds.
DESIGNERS. Its a disgrace that these university trainined guys typically lack the fundamentals on the processes that are used to weld the parts they design. Most designers
of robot welded parts would benefit from weld process theory training. Its likely
that the designers in your organization do not know the minimum thickness that
MIG short circuit transfer can be used on, what an acceptable weld gap dimension
is, or why that single pass, MIG fillet weld maximum size is restricted. The designers
of automotive / truck parts are rarely aware of their negative influence on weld
productivity and quality. All designers would benefit from weld process expertise
that allows them to design for welding.
FIXTURE MAKERS: Many fixture makers need to improve communication
with the individuals responsible for the part design, the person who provides
the robot programming, the maintenance manager and the key robot operator. The
group weld discussion would be beneficial in ensuring that fixtures are designed
to meet the ergonomic requirements of the robot operators, that the fixtures will
not impede optimum robot technique and programming, that the fixtures will be
durable and easy to maintain.
WELD TEAM. For effective
robot weld process controls, robots should be managed by an "automation weld
team". In contrast to many of the weld teams we now see in manufacturing
facilities, this would be a team, comprised of an operator rep, the maintenance
supervisor, the production supervisor, the robot programmer, and a rep from the quality and engineering and departments. With this team, all the members will have received my best practices - process control training.
Ineffective Weld Management.
employed as a senior weld process engineer with ABB, one of the world's largest
suppliers of arc welding robots, I provided "robot weld process training"
for many of the top North American, fortune 50 manufacturing companies.
I found it amusing, that frequently automotive managers from GM - Ford and Chrysler and their
tier one companies would send robot personnel to the robot programming school, yet
many of these individuals could barely read. You would think that innovative manufacturing
management, would be aware that few engineers in the auto and truck industry have
mastered robot programming requirements, and there is a logical reason for this.
Sending poorly qualified
individuals to robot training school may be logical for big three management,
however we in the real world are aware that it's is not the management solution for optimizing robot welding production.
Perhaps future managers could be a little more innovative
and create for the robot weld production crew a job description that requires
the applicants selected to control the welding robots, to at least have the ability
welding robot lines are the most sophisticated and sometimes the most costly automated equipment
installed in a manufacturing plant.
The caliber of the individuals controlling this complex equipment
has the greatest influence on attaining the equipment's full production potential.
Reality. Robots have been in manufacturing plants for approx three decades, yet
only a few of the "manufacturing engineers" employed in the the fabrication
industry have shown they have the will or enthusiasm to learn what it takes to
optimize robot welding production.
One day an enlightened manufacturing management will encourage their engineers to learn to how to control
the equipment that creates their profits.
HOW DO YOUR ENGINEERS RESPOND TO
THOSE ROBOT WELD
The arc welding robot is a multi-axis, computerized
controlled machine that manipulates a weld gun with a preset welding program that is rarely optimized for the application.
the big three and tier automotive plants, it's not unusual to find dozens of highly
paid engineers dispersed throughout the plants, yet when the robot line goes down
and the auto or truck production comes to a grinding halt, and then watch as many of the engineers will
reach for their cell phones or radios and try to find the lower paid robot technician
to resolve the robot / weld line issue that's influencing the plants weld quality or production.
DEFINED BY WEBSTER'S DICTIONARY.
application" of scientific principles to practical ends." It's
a pity today that with arc welding robots, we see few engineers applying the "application
of scientific principles". In contrast, we do see them taking too much advice from salesmen and applying marketing - sales induced principles which which provide few practical attributes
Traditional Management Perception:
is a common perception from some managers that when it comes to MIG welding, the
requirements are nothing more than a body, a head, two eyes, two legs and two
Another common management perception, if a costly robot is
going to do production welds that were initially produced by hourly paid welders,
then the already simple, semi-skilled task of MIG welding should be further simplified
by the large investment in the sophisticated, costly equipment.
the most ironic point about the common lack of MIG process expertise that prevails
in many manufacturing plants, is that the "MIG process" attached to
the robot arm has been around for more than five decades.
is an important point which will be repeated many times. The
majority of manufacturing managers responsible for welding are unaware that their
highly skilled welders and weld supervisors who focus on skills have rarely mastered the "MIG
weld process theory fundamentals" that encompass process controls and best practices, necessary requirements for any optimum robot
If you are an individual that does not believe the above statement, ask the most
skilled MIG individuals in your plant the following simple weld question.
PROCESS QUESTION: Without looking in a book, can you tell me when using either
an 0. 045 or 0.035 (1.2 - 1 mm) MIG wire, the wire feed rate, in./min (m/min)
in which spray transfer starts?
important is this fundamental MIG question? Well as over 75 percent of all MIG
welds are made with spray transfer, the question should be relevant. If you
ask 5 welders at your facility this
question, I guarantee you that you will get 5 different answers.
Manual MIG welding or robot weld optimization, the bottom line is most weld employees need weld process
training and managers should provide a process training program that's focused on
the utilized MIG wire diameters, and the weld transfer mode parameter requirements".
My self teaching process training books can be used in conjunction with my process
Chrysler multi-million dollar robot weld fiasco.
The following weld disaster
was caused by the corporate weld engineer at Chrysler. As
is common in the auto / truck industry, this corporate engineer lacked weld process expertise.
A few years ago, a brand new, multi million dollar robot weld line was
installed at the main Chrysler stamping plant located near Cleveland OH. The robot line was built
to weld Neon cross members. The Chrysler weld engineer had selected from Lincoln Electric, a
large diameter, self shielded flux cored electrode to be utilized with robots
for welding very the thin, galvanealed, cross member parts which were approx. 2 to 2.5 mm thick.
The 5/64 diameter, flux cored wires selected by the engineers responsible for this gage project required
320 to 380 amps for arc and weld stability. As any high school
welder should have known, the weld current required by these large electrodes
was simply too much for the 2 mm, gage cross member parts. Typically parts
this thin are welded with small diameter MIG wires using 180 to 240 amps. As a
result of the excess weld current used with the flux cored wires, there were so
many weld holes in the cross member parts that 13 manual welders were required
for the weld rework on the robot parts each shift.
The weld smoke from these obnoxious Lincoln flux cored consumables
was so bad that even with exhaust units and compressed air masks, the welders
could only weld four hours before they had to be relieved.
member weld burn through holes and weld porosity and undercut defects were so numerous that the manual repair welders simply welded over
"all the welds" on the parts. As it was impossible to remove the slag
from these robot welds, you can imagine the finished weld quality. The exess weld heat from the additional wleds also did not help the mechanical strength of these high strength steels, This robot welding
fiasco went on for more than a year, costing the plant approx. $750,000.00 per
month for more than 12 months.
ENGINEERING MANAGER AT CHRYSLER COULD HAVE ASKED;
HOW COULD MY WELD ENGINEER JUSTIFY A WELD CONSUMABLE
THAT REQUIRES WELD CURRENT GREATER THAN A PART CAN HANDLE?
 HOW COULD MY WELD ENGINEER ALLOW WELD CONSUMABLES IN A PLANT THAT CREATE
 HOW COULD MY WELD ENGINEER ALLOW WELD CONSUMABLES ON OUR PARTS AND THEY PROVIDE POOR WELD QUALITY, EXCESS SPATTER AND A TENACIOUS WELD SLAG
MAKING QUALITY WELD REPAIRS IMPOSSIBLE?
 HOW COULD MY WELD ENGINEER SELECT A WELD CONSUMABLE IN WHICH THE SLAG REMOVAL WAS VERY DIIFICULT THERE FORE THE COATINGS APPLIED OVER THE WELDS / SLAG WOULD HAVE POOR ADHERANCE.
 WHY WOULD MY WELD ENGINEER INSIST FOR THIS PLANT AND FOR ALL OTHER PLANTS THAT ARE WELDING GALVANIZED OR GALVANEALED PARTS, THAT THE PLANTS NOW USE THESE SELF
SHIELDED FLUX CORED WIRES, WHEN FOR DECADES EVERY OTHER MAJOR AUTO PART MANUFACTURER
HAS SUCCESSFULLY USED MIG CONSUMABLES AND ATTAINED BETTER QUALITY - PRODUCTIVITY?
 WHY WOULD MY WELD ENGINEER ALLOW "SINGLE PASS" ELECTRODE WIRES TO BE USED FOR THESE TWO WELD PASS APPLICATIONS, (2nd PASS REQUIRED WHEN YOU MAKE REPAIRS). THE EXCESS ALLOYS AND EXCESS WELD HEAT WILL NOT BENEFIT HIGH STRENGTH LOW ALLOY STEELS.
was requested by the very frustrated Chrysler plant manager to visit his plant and find
the solution to his Neon robot weld problem. I welded the
parts with a robot using the wire that should have been used, the 0.035 E70S-3 MIG wire. With the MIG in a few hours I was able to produce consistent, optimum
weld quality results that would have required minimum weld rework. My galvanealed,
MIG welded parts were then tested at a major test facility in Detroit. All the
MIG welds met the destructive test mechanical requirements.
In my report
which was presented to the corporate Chrysler weld engineer and his engineering peers and mangers, I informed
this team that apart from the unacceptable weld gaps on the new parts, the primary
root cause of the robot weld issues was the "flux cored consumable type and size selected".
After extensive discussions with the corporate engineering team, the
corporate weld engineer would not change his mind on the welding consumables
RESPONSIBILITY - ACCOUNTABILITY - OWNERSHIP WERE NOT PART OF THIS CHRYSLER TEAM. I suppose if the Neon team had approved the weld consumable change, it would have
indicated where the real root cause and responsibility was for the multi- million
dollar fiasco. Shortly
after the meeting, due to the extensive weld rework costs that was measured in themillions, the less than two year
old, multi-million robot line was shut down. The robots, the application, and
the oversized weld wires were moved to Mexico where weld repairs and weld fumes have less consequences for the Detroit management.
From my perspective I found it completely illogical
that any corporate or plant or manufacturing engineering management would allow "inexperienced,
hands off engineers with inflated egos" to influence their companies reputation and bottom
WHY WOULD A WELD CONSUMABLE MFG RECOMMEND A WELD WIRE THAT ONLY THEY MAKE. THIS IS ONE OF THOSE QUESTIONS THAT PROVIDES IT'S OWN ANSWER. It's
a common welding sales tactic by some consumable manufacturers and suppliers to
try and promote a weld wire "unique to their company". This consumable
when targeted at a plant that buys large amounts of weld wires, ensures no one
else can bid on the future plant's consumable business. Lets face it once a consumable
gets into an auto / truck plant, its there till chapter 11.
I have just
read your Chrysler Neon article regarding the Crosse and self shielded
flux cored wire issues. I fully endorse your views and comments. It's a shame
that many "welding engineers" in the automotive industry lack the actual
knowledge and skills to fulfill this critical role. I myself am a welding engineer
for a tier one supplier to the auto industry and see this too often. As a time
served boilermaker in the UK, I feel that there is extensive lack of process knowledge
and experience with the welding and engineering personnel in the auto industry.
I must also thank you for your book 'A Management & Engineering Guide to
MIG & the Training' materials both of which we as a company refer to regularly.
Is it correct for any technical industry
to watch workers
with the equipment controls they daily utilizes?
the traditional metal manufacturing environment, which group of skilled trade
personnel will play with their equipment controls? Hopefully
it does not happen in your machine or press shop. How often do you here the following
in a welding shop. "Setting up that new robot application will take a little
time, we will have to "play around" with the weld controls for awhile
before we find the optimum welding conditions.
For the last five decades, millions of global welding shops, have used MIG to
weld carbon steel applications from 20 gage to thick steels. How many more decades
have to pass before welders will stop playing with the MIG controls and instantly
set the correct welding parameters for the application?
We have a double standard in the manufacturing
trades in which we expect an electrician or a machinist to be a professional in
their trade, however when it comes to welding we will allow welders, technicians,
maintenance personnel or engineers to "play around" with the welding
We have another common, double standard. In
manufacturing plants when a part is being formed in a press it will typically
have part tolerances which are frequently less than a human hair, however if the
parts are to be MIG welded the manufacturing engineers are generous and frequently
allow the welded part to have a weld gap the size a mouse could crawl through.
IT TAKES TO STOP PLAYING AROUND WITH MIG CONTROLS
IS PROVIDE YOUR EMPLOYEES WITH
THIS TRAINING BOOK, CD OR AND VIDEO.
An important Management Step Towards Robot
A MANAGER OR ENGINEER, BE AN ACTIVE PARTNER IN PROCESS OWNERSHIP:
Manufacturing shops will benefit when the managers and engineers decide that they
should be a partner in the ownership of the core processes and equipment that
plays a key role in meeting their daily production needs.
Being an active partner in weld process and equipment ownership, means management
recognizes the required process or equipment expertise and ensures the persons
responsible for this equipment has the training that provides that expertise.
Note: The individual responsible for the welding decisions should have
ability to make rational welding process decisions without the aid or the advice
of a salesmen.
an established 50 year old manufacturing process, you should not require team
discussions to resolve manual or robots welding production issues. The person
who provides the robot weld data should have the required weld process
expertise. If they do not have the necessary process control expertise, the solution
The majority of welding issues that can occur with a robot
MIG weld are discussed on this site, or in my books and training
CD's . With process control training comes instant weld process solutions.
So rather than have your employees sitting around a conference table chewing the
fat, provide them with process training and let the most experienced individual
get on with providing the robot or weld resolutions.
an active partner in process and equipment ownership means
the weld decision makers listens to the workers on the shop floor. However the
weld decision maker should have more weld process expertise and therefore should
make the final process decisions based on;
[a] the requirements necessary
to attain optimum productivity and quality,
[b] decisions that protect the
company from a product liability situation.
Being an active partner in process and equipment ownership means the management
and engineers establish Best Weld Practices that reduce weld equipment and consumable
* Being an active partner in process and equipment ownership means the management
and engineers are focused on placing "weld process controls" on the
* Being an active partner in process and equipment ownership means the managers
and engineers will not allow manufacturing double standards in which weld part
tolerance discrepancies are not given the same priority as brake press part dimensions.
* Being an active partner in process and equipment ownership means
that when a PM program is recommended for the robot cells, it's put in place and
strictly adhered to.
Being an active partner in process and robot ownership means the management will
attain for it's employees effective robot programming and MIG process control
training. Before you allow a consultant or trainer into your plant, ensure the
welding quality and productivity expectations are clearly spelled out. Keep in
mind, in most cases your workers already have the necessary skills, yet it's this
area of expertise which many trainers or consultants will focus on. Ensure the
process training is provided to all personnel involved with the welded parts.
* Being an active partner in process and equipment ownership means the management
is aware that for robot programming, that the 5 day training program at a robot
companies training facility should be seen only as the introductory training course.
Ensure robot training follow up. Provide the training till the programmer believes
they have the ability to completely control the robots.
Being an active partner in process and equipment ownership means
the management will not put up with individuals who make weld process changes
outside the pre-qualified weld data.
* Being an active partner in process and equipment ownership means, that for the
equipment or processes which are critical for an organization, the management
will encourage engineers
to captain the shop and encourage these individuals to attain equipment and process
expertise that is at least compatible with your technicians.
Management & Engineers:
The yearly review and job descriptions of engineers
who work with robots should clearly encourage engineers to take a pre 1980s approach
to manufacturing. Some of you may remember the good old days when engineers dedicated
to Keep It Simple (KIS) manufacturing, could be seen "shirt sleeves rolled
up" working with the equipment and processes on the shop floor.
the engineers in your organization don't understand the robot programs, the GTAW,
plasma, laser or oxy fuel cutting machine program requirements, encourage them
to take process or equipment training. For their MIG / flux cored process requirements,
and for the implementation of effective weld process controls, I would recommend
What does a ship yard and automotive
In these union dominated industries,
the misguided unions frequently discourage engineers from hands on participation with the
manufacturing processes used on the shop floor. This was fine in the good old
days when manual welding skills meant everything and process expertise meant little.
As the complexity of the manufacturing equipment and environment changes and plants
strive to increase their automation efficiency in a highly competitive global industry, engineers should be encouraged
to rise up from their desks and to do what they are supposedly trained and hired for. There is only one logical approach
to successful manufacturing and that is a working partnership between the skilled workers,
technicians, engineers and managers.
If a ship does not run efficiently, the ship owners will quickly
find a new captain. It's a pity that in many manufacturing plants, accountability
for weld productivity and quality is often placed on the wrong shoulders.
can benefit by careful evaluation of the qualifications of the personnel responsible
for production robot welding. Ensure all personnel that either set up, or operate
the high volume production equipment have the capability and aptitude to meet
a clearly defined job description for that specific operation.
MANAGEMENT AND EXPERTISE AWARENESS. Management and engineers will
benefit once they are aware that there are very different expertise levels between:
a maintenance person,
a weld process expert,
a robot weld process expert.
WHEN WELD ENGINEER HAVE TO REPORT TO UNION EMPLOYEES, YOU KNOW IT WILL BE A SCREWED UP AUTOMOTIVE PLANT OR A SHIP YARD..
June 99, I noticed a news paper classified add listed on the web. A company that
makes automotive parts was looking for a weld engineer. Now remember weld engineers
in contrast to mechanical or electrical engineers have always been in short supply
in North America. And weld engineers that are affective in implementing process
controls are in shorter supply
The position advertised, required an engineer
with robot and MIG weld process expertise. The individual would have FULL RESPONSIBILITY
for the robot weld productivity and quality. The engineer required at least five
years of practical hands on expertise. What was remarkable about the add was the company wanted the engineer to "report to the plant union personnel".
I don't believe that the function or mandate
of any union involved in manufacturing was to ever "control the engineers".
Does the cart control the horse? You can bet this companies mechanical engineers
do not "report to the union"
This add is just another indication
of the frequent lack of management process ownership and the lack of respect shown
to the welding profession. This unfortunately is happening in too many auto plants.
cost of MIG Weld Process Control training, is
the price of a good "executive" dinner,
How many companies are prepared to invest a few dollars per supervisor, robot
personnel or welder, for a training program designed to optimize both the manual
or robot welding quality and productivity in their organization?
had my MIG process training book translated to Spanish, believing it would be
a great tool for the Mexican workers who are paid a few dollars a a day to control
the costly European and Japanese robots welding the North American auto / truck
parts. What I did not figure on was the management apathy in these plants. Managers
who have no problem spending millions on robots lines have to think twice before
they spend a few dollars purchasing books for their workers.
WE WOULD ALL BENEFIT IF A FACTORY WAS RUN LIKE A SHIP:
Its unfortunate that the
trend in weld manufacturing in the last two decades has been "hands off management and hands off engineering".
In contrast examine the ship factories at sea. A good ship's captain and the ship's
engineers typically can operate or take apart anything on a ship. I am not suggesting
that this radical, technical expertise should be part of a manufacturing managers
job description. I am suggesting that today we need a compromise
in which managers and engineers show more interest in the plant equipment and
manufacturing practices that generates their pay check.
manufacturing management and engineers back into the equipment process ownership
loop, an important first step would be for these individuals to show the workers
that they have process knowledge. Try this
book "A Management and Engineers Guide To MIG"
Remember Keep Smiling, it's all good...
you are teaching your self, or providing weld process control training for others,
the following resources are the key to attaining both manual and robot MIG and
flux cored weld process optimization.
"A Management & Engineers Guide To MIG
Quality, Productivity & Costs"
unique robot MIG training or self teaching resource.
MIG Welds from Weld Process Controls".
unique MIG training or self teaching resource.
Manual MIG Weld Process Optimization from Weld
A unique flux cored training or self teaching resource.
"Optimum Manual and Automated Flux Cored Plate and
de Soldadura MIG Manual"
(MIG Made Simple. Self teaching in Spanish)
Self Teaching MIG Book/ Video.
Made Simple in English).
Ed's MIG / flux cored process control books and CD training
Management & Robot Section Two:
* Read how progressive management and engineers at Freight Liner allowed for dramatic improvements in their robot weld quality - productivity.
more robot / management weld process issue and control information in "Part
Two of Robot MIG Welding ".