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Robot Welds and Chrysler Management:
An E-mail addressed to this site.
Ed. The tier one automotive parts company I work for has been told by the Chrysler Corporate weld engineer that we have to use "self shielding flux cored wires" when welding galvaneald steel parts. The Lincoln self shielded flux cored wires we have tried have caused us numerous weld issues. Our robot weld rework rates so far are in the sixty to a hundred percent range. The robot operators and workers around the robot cells frequently complain about the effects of the self shielded weld fumes, and the QA and paint departments are appalled at the tenacious weld slag and spatter thats very difficult to remove. Ed why would anyone in management or engineering allow these weld wires?
My answer: I feel your pain. This self shielded flux cored nonsense has been going on for much more than a decade. Let me tell you one of my weld application battles that likely involved the same Chrysler weld engineer, and how since their introduction, the Chrysler Self Shielded Flux Cored wire recommendations have possibly cost Chrysler and their suppliers at least fifty to 100 million dollars.
The Chrysler Robot Neon robot weld Fiasco
Stage One: 1995 - 96. The approx. $800,000 a month, the Chrysler Neon Cross member weld issues:
The following robot weld application is a description of how mfg. managers and engineers should "not act" and how weld product salesmanship can have dramatic cost repercussions. This robot installation was at the Chrysler company and the poor weld decision had a dramatic impact for some of Chrysler's suppliers.
The robot Neon weld application is something that happened in the past but it can be a good lesson for future engineers involved in similar robot weld applications. This is a story of unqualified managers and engineers who lacked the ability to take ownership, responsibility and accountability for their mfg. equipment and for the weld processes utilized on their applications.
It was late 1995 and hopefully the Chrysler company at that time has little in common to the Chrysler Fiat company in 2015: The Chrysler Twinsburg plant manager had no assistance from his corporate weld engineer and he requested that I consult and assist him with major robot - manual weld issues that were occurring at his plant. I knew from my short conversation with this man that he was an excellent manufacturing manager, and let's face it, you would have to be a top gun manager to manage Chrysler's prime Minivan stamping facility.
When I got to the Chrysler plant, the very frustrated plant mgr, bought me up to date with his plant's new robot line and the robot weld issues. The Chrysler manager informed me that in the past his plant had not been involved with "robot arc welds" and both the robot / manual issues with his newly mult-million dollay robot line were making him ill.
The new multi-million dollar robot line was set up in the plant to weld Neon Cross Member parts. A cross member is used to support the engine or transmission. The plant manager informed me that the robot weld cell quality / production issues on the cross member welding line was costing his plant approx. $800,000 per month. At the time of our meeting the cross member robot weld repairs and weld production issues had gone on for more than a year, costing Chrysler over 10 million dollars.
THESE ROBOT WELD PROBLEMS STARTED WITH THE POOR CROSS MEMBER DESIGN FROM THE CHRYSLER DESIGN ENGINEERS:
Note: I always find it interesting that most of the designers i met, typically had minimal interest or expertise with the weld processes - consumables used on their parts.
The Neon steel cross member parts to be welded were thin.The weld problems were on a lap joint in which one part was approx. 1.5 and the other part approx. 2 mm.
From a robot weldability perspective, I pointed out to the Chrysler engineering team that the overlap seam on the cross member joints were the wrong way around and therefore poorly designed.
The cross members were made out of two sections that overlapped. The overlap seam required a continuous weld all the way around the part. The weld profile on the lap seam joint is indicated in the above, very left part of the sketch. As you can see with the lap weld sketch, the thinner 1.5 mm section was the weld base for this horizontal lap weld joint. The part fixture had a difficult time pushing the thicker 2 mm part in which was necessary to reduce the seam weld gaps.
An important weld design fact that I believe that few Chrysler designers were aware of, "was it's much more difficult to create weld burn through situation on a 2 mm part, than it is to burn through a part that's 1.5 mm".
The robot weld burn through issue was further exasperated when the responsible weld engineer selected an oversize poorly suited weld wire (required high current) and a very poor weld process to weld parts that had weld gaps up to 4 mm.
For the Neon cross member robot weld application, the Chrysler corporate weld engineer selected the WORST POSSIBLE WELD PROCESS:
The cross member welded parts were coated with galvanealed. This is a coating that typically would have little influence on the quality of a traditional MIG weld. However to weld these parts, the Chrysler corporate weld engineer had selected Self Shielded (SS) flux cored wires.
Self shielding flux cored wires such as the Lincoln E71T-G (NR 212) and NR 211 were selected. The weld wire size selected for these thin parts was a large diameter 5/64 wire. The Lincoln Electric plant that made the wires was approx. 20 miles away. Lincoln was involved in the decision to utilize these poor weld wires.
The SS flux cored weld wire selected for the very thin cross members were a large diameter that required a weld current range of 280 to 350 amps. Note. Approx. 320 - 330 amps is the optimum current for this size weld wire. I say optimum current with tongue in cheek. This high weld current required for this wire would have been more compatable with steel weld applications > 6 mm thick, rather than welding 1.5 mm thin gage parts that had excessive gaps.
THE FABRICATION MANAGEMENT ALSO DID NOT DO THEIR JOB AS THE PARTS PRESENTED WERE WELL OUT SIDE THE DESIGN DIMENSION TOLERANCES. HOWEVER THIS WAS AN ISSUE THAT COULD EASILY BE RECTIFIED.
When the top part and bottom part of the new stamped cross member components were joined together in the fixtures, there were extensive gaps across the robot lap weld. Those gaps were typically 2 to 4 mm.
Weld gaps across a lap joint such as this will require additional weld fill. The extra weld (larger weld size) reduced the robot weld speed potential which increased the weld burn through potential on 1.5 mm base
The bottom line, as any weld technician with six months experience would have known, no matter what the weld polarity of the consumables utilized, 280 - 320 amps and the 1.5 mm steels were simply not compatible.
For me at this time, it was interesting to note that that this weld wire was not marketed by any wire manufacture including Lincoln as a weld wire designed specifically for "thin galvanealed or galvanized parts".
From my perspective, the obnoxious weld fume, SS weld wire would normally be used to weld structural pilings or applications requiring minimal weld quality expectations
In the 21 Century, an engineer was allowed by his engineering management to select the process used below for robot and manual welds made at the Chrysler's Flag Ship Stamping plant.
Note, this pic is from another facilty..
ONE GOOD WAY TO REDUCE A COMPANIES WELD PROFIT POTENTIAL IS ENSURE MINIMIMAL MANUAL WELD REWORK IS REQUIRED.
WITH 13 MANUAL WELDERS REVOLVING EVERY FEW HOURS DUE TO THE WELD FUMES AND POOR WELD CHARACTERISTICS, 26 MANUAL WELDERS WOULD BE REQUIRED EACH SHIFT TO PUT POOR QUALITY MANUAL WELDS OVER THE TOP OF THE ROBOT POOR WELDS:
The high weld current required by the large diameter Lincoln straight polarity, self shielded flux cored wires, created so many weld burn holes in the Neon parts that during each shift, Chrysler had to utilize up to 13 manual welders to manually weld over the entire robot flux cored welds. The weld fumes and conditions around the robot area were so bad that the MANUAL REPAIR WELDERS WELDING I CONDITIONS SIMILAR TO THE ABOVE PHOTO, HAD TO WEAR FRESH AIR BREATHING MASKS. Also due to health concerns, the management had to rotate the manual repair welders every four hours.
Once this poor excuse for a weld process was embedded in the Chrysler plant, the Self Shielded weld folklore, myths and process chaos began. When asked why he choose a weld wire that was causing numerous weld quality, productivity and safety issues, the Chrysler weld engineer would inform all that his choice of this self shielding weld wire was necessary when "welding galvanealed coated steel applications". From that day onwards he was committed to his incorrect process choice, and the cost consequences for Chrysler and it's part suppliers has since then been enormous.
The daily weld rework on the Chrysler Neon cross members was 100% and the weld reject rate of the smaller robot sub assembly parts averaged 60 to 100%.
THE INFLUENCE OF SALESMANSHIP ON AN INDUSTRY THAT TOO OFTEN RELIES ON SALES ADVICE:
Later on, as the use of galvanealed parts grew and as the Lincoln self shielded weld wire sales grew at the Chrysler and their tier plants that were welding galvanealed applications, Lincoln changed it's self shielding sales literature to read;
"This self shielded flux cored wires is developed for single and multiple pass, semiautomatic and automatic welding of mild steel, sheet metal, plate and coated applications
Without any weld or metallurgical justification, Lincoln changed it's self shielded literature - marketing for the consumables in question. Thanks to Chrysler, Lincoln now informed it's weld customers that "these "self shielded flux cored wires were designed for coated steel" applications. This data is available on the Lincoln web site under self shielded data Nov. 27 / 05.
THERE IS A REASON "BOVINE FECAL MATTER" ARE 3 FREQUENT WORDS AT THIS WEB SITE:
Some major weld consumable manufacturers, (not all), will recommend a weld consumable that most of their competitors do not sell. Often the so called unique weld consumable may not be the best weld consumable for the intended application, however this common "weld sales tactic" ensures no one else can bid on on the weld consumable business.
In the auto / truck industry, where few managers or enginners seem to want ownership of the weld processes in their plants, once a weld consumable is selected for a specific part, that consumable is typically embedded in concrete, and could be used for many years.
Any reputable welding technician would be aware that irrespective of the weld polarity utilized, > 300 plus amps weld current is simply not compatible with thin, 1.5 mm gage parts. Is it possible that the Chrysler weld engineer never had the ambition to acquire the weld knowledge of a reputable weld technician? If so, it's unfortunate, as his choice of the large SS weld wire has cost his company and part suppliers millions in weld quality - rework and productivity issues.
On the right is a picture of an easy to make SS butt weld on galvanealed. The SS weld settings used were considered optimum. It's a pity people who buy cars and trucks don't get to see many of the welds that hold their cars together.
The majority of the self shielded robot welds were full of weld burn through holes and all the welds were coated with a difficult to remove weld slag with excess spatter.
CRAP ON TOP OF CRAP = WHAT?
I found it interesting that when the manual SS weld repairs were being made, that the the SS slag was not removed from the robot welds,
The tenacious difficult to remove SS slag was also influenced by the high weld current required for the large diameter wire. On the cross member parts it was almost impossible to remove this slag completely. Due to the weld conditions, the weld alloys and impurity content of the slag formed, no weld process or consumable was suited to make the manual weld repairs, however this did not deter Chrysler decision makers and the bad manual weld repairs were put on top of the bad robot welds with the same poor performing SS wires.
Anyone with weld expertise would know that no weld should be made over the top of another weld when the first weld has slag on it's surface, however the Chrysler engineers and management let it happen.
THESE WERE NOT SMALL WELD REPAIRS: As the robot weld burn through was so extensive around the total cross member seam, the manual repair welders would on most members weld around the complete cross member seam. In most instances the manual welders wearing breathing masks were making repair welds approx. 80 - 100 inches long. Can you imagine how these over sized, over heated welds full of defects and questionable alloy combinations on the thin 1.5 to 2 mm parts, would perform in a crash test. If you cannot imagine take a look at the following, you may wonder if its related.
1998: Three years after I tried to get Chrysler management to do the right thing and improve the welds on the Neon, the following collision data was presented by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Chrysler Neon 1998 Injury, Collision, Indicators
Index: Score: Rating:
Injury Index 131. This is substantially worse than average score of 100.
These scores are stated in relative terms, with 100 being the average for all cars in each category. Scores greater than 100 represent higher risk in each category. For example, an injury indicator score of 131 means that a passenger in this model is 31% more likely to be injured in an accident.
The injury, collision, indicators for the 1998 PLYMOUTH NEON are provided by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute. Learn more about these results.
NOW GO FORWARD A DECADE FROM 1995 to March 2005.
After a decade of production, on national TV, a Crash Test organization announced that of all the cars it tested in 2005, the Chrysler Neon got the worst crash test results.
CROSS MEMBER WELDS SUCH AS THIS WOULD RARELY PASS A DESTRUCTIVE WELD TESTS:
The manual repair welds were made on top of defective welds that either burnt through, had lack of weld fusion, extensive porosity and large amounts of trapped slag. Off course the resulting welds with these defects and extra heat (HAZ affect) from the repairs would always result in poor weld / part mechanical and fatigue properties.
CROSS MEMBERS ARE GALVANEALED COATED FOR ANTI-CORROSION: The problem with any coated part is the weld will destroy and absorb part of the coating so the weld area is going to quickly corrode. Also with the cross member welds, it was very difficult to remove the self shielded weld slag. You can be sure on these welded parts that is an additiona coating was later applied over the top of the weld slag, the slag would often pop off.
If the weld fatique properties were a concern in a crash or real test with the SS Neon cross member poor quality welds, the rust that would soon proliferate from the lack of coating protection along the welds should also be a concern..
CHRYSLER CROSS MEMBERS AND THE "SINGLE PASS" WELDS: It's ironic that some the self shielded weld wires that made the welds were at this time were approved by the AWS for "single pass welds only".
A single weld pass limitation for a weld consumable is an indication of either excess or uncontrolled alloy content in the weld wire. When parts require weld repairs, two weld layers are applied and the SS weld wires will automatically result in excess alloy content resulting typically in welds that will have poor ductility. The weld chemistry and weld mechanical issues generated by the two weld layers are further aggravated when you add the affects of excess slag, excess weld heat on the HSLA heat affected zones, internal weld defects in combination with the addition of zinc from the galvanealed coating.
AT THIS TIME, WHEN IT COMES TO ROBOT WELDS, CHRYSLER WAS HEADING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION:
By the way, if the self shielded products could achieve what the Chrysler corporate engineer and Lincoln Electric claimed they could do, every car / truck plant in the world would be using these obnoxious products. The weld reality is the majority of companies worldwide that weld both galvanealed and hot dipped galvanized steel applications have always successfully used the MIG process with conventional steel MIG wires and two part gas mixes.
THE CHRYSLER PLANT MANAGER WANTED RESOLUTIONS TO HIS MULTI- MILLION DOLLAR ROBOT LINE, CROSS MEMBER WELD ISSUES, HE HAD GOT NO ASSISTANCE FROM HIS CORPORATE ENGINEERS OR FROM LINCOLN, SO HE REQUESTED THAT I PROVIDE A PRACTICAL PROPOSAL.
At our meeting, the frustrated and very tense Chrysler plant manager asked that I would present a proposal to the responsible Chrysler corporate managers and engineers. After i evaluated the robot weld issues, I knew it would be a difficult task to convince the Chrysler weld engineer who was responsible (it always is).
The Chrtsler weld eng had made a poor weld process and poor weld wire decision. He was not likely to admit to his peers that he had made a multi-million mistake on what was a simple steel weld application. I therefore proposed to the plant manager that rather than waste time and exhaustive discussions with individuals that must lack weld process expertise, (individuals in the denial mode), I simply would present to the Chrysler corporation engineering team responsible for the Neon cross members, the following practical proposal that would be based on weld results and tests rather than on weld talk.
I would weld the cross member parts with a robot. I would use the MIG process on the cross member parts that had the worse gaps. We would then compare the MIG weld results with the plant's self shielded flux cored welded parts. I would use an independant out side testining agency for the weld - part evaluations. Then let the resulting weld quality, weld production and the parts mechanical tests speak provide the data.
For the robot welds on the cross member parts, I utilized a highly respected Detroit Testing Agency. The weld test data would be taken from both the MIG welds and Self Shielding welded parts. The report would also provide both micro / macro weld and HAZ samples. Appropriate hardness tests were also done on the the welds and the HAZ, along with destructive tensile tests.
MY "NEW" MIG CROSS MEMBER ROBOT PROCEDURE:
I robot welded the Neon cross member parts with the MIG process using the common 0.045 - 0.035 , E70S-3 MIG wires. The S3 should be the weld wire of choice for any auto plant has it has lower silicon and manganese than the E70S-6 MIG wire.
NOTE: The E70S-6 MIG wire has for three decades mistakenly been used throughout the global auto / truck weld industry for zinc coated applications. Lower silicon in the weld as available with the S3 wire can reduce the potential for micro weld cracks when combined with the zinc found in galvanized and galvanealed coatings. Also for the paint shop is pleased when the MIG wire selected produces less small slag islands than the commonly used E70S-6, (Using the S6 is simply another auto - truck industry weld error).
For some of the the cross member robot welds, I used the 0.035 MIG wire and argon - 10% CO2. I set the weld parameters in the low stable part of the spray transfer mode, 200 to 220 amps. This current is much lower than the 280 - 320 amps typically being used with the self shielded wires. With the robot MIG welds, I also used the short circuit mode with 160 to 180 amps. This low short circuit current was beneficial in the common cross member weld areas where the weld gaps were most sever. Within two days of producing robot welds, I eliminated the majority of the weld burn through issues that were requiring rework. I established both the robot cross member and sub assembly procedures, and without an issue, produced at least 20 robot parts. The MIG weldedparts along with the self shielded parts were then were shipped for testing at the Detroit Testing Agency.
I PROVIDED AN UNBIASED WELD TEST REPORT WHICH EVENTUALLY MEANT NOTHING TO CHRYSLER:
The resulting weld test report on the MIG welded cross members, indicated that in contrast to the self shielded weld parts, all of my robot MIG welded parts provided superior weld / mechanical results. The MIG welds all passed the NDT, mechanicals and destructive tests with the best data ever recorded for these parts.
With the Chrysler MIG welded parts and the weld report in the back of the car, I drove back to the Chrysler Corporate Center to present the results to all the responsible managers / engineers on the cross member team. I placed the new welded parts on the table and revealed a weld quality of which they had never seen before. I kept the presentation simple and to the point. By the way my MIG weld data also provided Chrysler with a great bonus as I also increased the robot weld speed and resulting weld productivity by 30%. I also reduced the total weld rework from 100% to an anticipated
< 8%. Some weld rework would still be required due to the part fit issues and the weld gaps that were often > 4 mm.
The weld solutions I presented at the Chrysler meeting in January 1996, would immediately save Chrysler $800,000.00 per month (OVER 9 million dollars annually) and increase the cross member robot weld productivity by 30%.
All the weld data presented at the meeting indicated that the primary issue was with the weld process and weld consumables selected. The poor part fit issues could be addressed with a possible die change which was in the budget and some long over due engineering best practice - process controls in the plant that made the cross members.
The Chrysler corporate management team who managed the engineers responsible for the parts received my report. I knew that these managers and their engineers and designers understood little about the weld processes discussed, so I kept the report data at a level that middle school kids could understand. The new MIG test weld data was very well received by the Chrysler plant manager and also by all the Chrysler Corporate Purchasing mgr and by those that were interested on the cross member team. Of course the Chrysler weld engineer was pissed off with the report, however I thought this battle was over and i would now get on with setting the Twinsburg robots and providing the training. However it turned out, this was a battle that I could never win.
THE CHRYSLER CORPORATE WELD ENGINEER WAS IN A DEFENSIVE DENIAL MODE:
After my meeting at Chrysler, I found out that the weld engineer had continued to deny that the problem was with his SS process and wire selection, he insisted that the SS wires had to be used to compensate for the galvanealed coating. His peers ALL HIGHLY EDUCATED ENGINEERS AND MANAGERS had all seen the engineering evidence necessary to know that the wrong process had been used, however lacking in balls, they let the weld engineer have his way.
It's obvious the Chrysler weld engineer was not interested in the success of the MIG process on his companies parts. It's evident he was however concerned about protecting his "credibility image" as the corporate weld engineer. I suppose this is reasonable, lets face it, who would wants to be known as the individual that's responsible in the last two years for at least an 18 plus million dollar loss for his company.
To show his team his "flexibility" for change, the Chrysler weld engineer allowed the use of a slightly smaller self shielded weld wire to weld his cross member parts. I provided improved results with the smaller SS wire than the larger SS wire, however for me this was nothing more than the using a band aid for a hemorrhage
A FEW MONTHS PASSED AND THE CHRYSLER BIG GUN MADE A DECISION:
With corporate management there has to be more than bean counting and delegating. After many million dollars lost to the cross member weld productivity, rework and reject issues, the President of Chrysler decided to get involved with his less than two year old, state of the art, multi-million dollar, cross member robot weld line. He decided that he wanted this project out of site, out of mind. Rather than fire his weld engineer and demand his engineers get a grip on what was in reality a two to three day fix for this simple, and common weld application, the Chrysler president made the decision to move the application, the robots and the weld issues under a sombrero plant located in Mexico.
Perhaps the Chrysler senior executives anticipated that in Mexico the manual weld rework costs on the cross members would be miniscule, and possibly also there would be less objections to the use of the obnoxious Self Shielded wires, and their carcogenic weld fumes.
By the way, a few years later I visited the plant in Mexico where these parts were being made. It was the same weld and fume mess. No these workers did not MIG weld the parts and the poor part fit was evident. The plant management in Mexico however provided their Mexican workers with "large hammers" to beat the parts. The self shielded welds were still a mess and burn through holes were part of the job. Being Mexico the management did not provide the welders with Fresh air Flow helmets" when doing the manual SS weld repairs.
A QUALIFIED ENGINEER WOULD NOT
allow the Use of an incorrect process.
 A self shielded weld wire recommendation for auto / truck parts would never be accepted by a knowledgeable weld engineer.
 This weld wire recommendation would never be accepted in a facility that prides itself on it's engineering, weld production capability.
 The self shielded weld wire recommendation would never be accepted by a facility that worries about weld quality / weld mechanicals / product liability.
 The self shielded weld wire recommendation would never be accepted by any management who is concerned about the health of its workers.
 The lack of an effective manual weld repair procedure would not have been approved in an organization that is concerned about the weld integrity on the parts it delivers.
 The self shielded wires will dramatically increase the production time required to produce the parts.
FEW ENGINEERS OR DESIGNERS IN THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY WOULD BE AWARE OF THE WELD CURRENT AND PART THICKNESS COMPATIBILITY WITH THE COMMON AVAILABLE MIG AND FLUX CORED WELD CONSUMABLES USED DAILY IN THEIR FACILITIES?
EVEN FEWER WILL UNDERSTAND THE WELD ENERGY DIFFERENCES GENERATED BETWEEN A REVERSE POLARITY MIG WIRE USING SHORT CIRCUIT, PULSED OR SPRAY MIG, VERSUS A STRAIGHT POLARITY SELF SHIELDED FLUX CORED WIRE?
The sad reality in 2015, is after three decades of using arc welding robots and arc weld process apathy, the majority of the senior corporate mfg. management at the major North American and Japanese auto / truck manufacturers, lack the ability to recognize the fundamental human requirements necessary to establish robot weld process controls.
IT'S A SAD WELD REALITY, THAT THE MAJORITY OF ENGINEERS AND WELD DECISION MAKERS IN THE AUTO / TRUCK PLANTS WILL HAVE TO RELY ON WELD ADVICE FROM SALES REPS OR FROM ORGANIZATIONS THAT MAKES WELD ROBOTS AND WELD EQUIPMENT.
FOR THOSE MANAGERS WHO ARE TOO BUSY PUTTING OUT THEIR DAILY, COSTLY ROBOT WELD SHOP FIRES AND SPENDING TOO MUCH ON UNNECESSARY ROBOT WELD REWORK AND POOR PRODUCTION, ALL A PERSON HAS TO DO TO GET CONTROL OF THE MIG WELDING ROBOTS IS TAKE LESS ADVICE FROM THE WELD EQUIPMENT AND CONSUMABLE MANUFACTURES AND TAKE A FEW HOURS TO READ MY ROBOT PROCESS CONTROL - BEST PRACTICE, SELF TEACHING / TRAINING RESOURCE.
WHY WOULD CHRYSLER MANAGEMENT INSIST THAT IT'S PERSONELL AND THEIR SUPPLIERS OF SIMILAR ROBOT WELDS, EXPOSE THEIR WELD PERSONNEL TO CARCINOGENIC WELD FUMES WITH A WELD PROCESS THAT OFFERS THE LOWEST WELD QUALITY AND PRODUCTIVITY POTENTIAL?
The abuse of the workers as a result of salesmanship
and management - engineering weld process ignorance?
Poor quality, self shielded robot welds and poor robot weld production rates were not the only weld problems in the Chrysler plant. The self shielded weld wires had alloys that were maxed out (PEL) in the MSD sheets. The alloy levels in the weld wires recommended create a serious health hazard and some of the self shielded wires accepted and still in use in 2005 have alloys which in the form of smoke or dust are classed as "carcinogenic". The robot cells utilized had exhaust units, however the manual repair welders working near the cells were required to wear breathing apparatus as the smoke and dust from the manual weld repair area floated across their work area and through the rest of the plant.
The Lincoln, self shielded flux wire weld fumes were so bad that even with clean air breathing apparatus the Chrysler manual workers (I won't call them welders as it was impossible to do quality weld repairs on top of the robot welds) would only work for four hours, they then would be replaced by another weld repair crew.
WHEN A COMPANY MAKES THE DECISION TO USE THE SELF SHIELDED FLUX CORED WIRES, THEY SHOULD AWARE OF
 THE WORKERS AND THOSE THAT WORK IN THE AREA, SAFETY AND POSSIBLE LEGAL RAMIFICATIONS FROM SUBJECTING PERSONNEL TO AN UNNECESSARY PROCESS THAT PRODUCES EXCESS AMOUNTS OF CARCENOGENIC FUMES,
 MORE WORKERS REQUIRED FOR THE MANUAL REWORK AND THE WORKERS INCREASED FATIGUE.
 THE WORKERS INCREASED TURN OVER POTENTIAL
 THE IMPACT ON THE DAILY WELD QUALITY - REWORK - PRODUCTIVITY.
 THE IMPACT ON THE FIXTURES.
 THE IMPACT ON THE AIR SYSTEMS IN THE PLANT.
 FUTURE PRODUCT LIABILITY.
The sad part about making workers use the SS products is that these wires are simply not necessary for any weld application. The cross member welds could be made with the cleaner MIG process and lower cost MIG wires. On the galvanealed parts, the MIG process fumes would offer no known safety hazards and the welds would always have greater weld quality and productivity potential.
Another concern with the self shielded flux cored wires that create so much weld rework is the grinding and cleaning of the welds on the parts to be repaired or coated. The dust created from the rework also create a safety hazard.
Once the self shielded, high level alloy particles and dust from grinding repairs get into your shop air how do you control it? The bottom line is a company would not have to worry about weld fume or dust controls if ysomeone in the front office makes a rational weld engineering decision.
2004: MORE EVIDENCE OF CHRYSLER INCOMPETENCE :
It was 2OO4. Eight years had passed, and I was back at the Chrysler Corporate center face to face with you know who. The same corporate weld engineer was still working for the Chrysler. In a way I was surprised that with all the over costs and issues that he had generated, he had not been promoted to some VP position.
This time I represented a tier one supplier who was loosing only $300,000 annually because he was made to use the same self shielded wires on some small galvanealed parts. At this engineering meeting new weld test data was presented along with an unusual letter that I had attained from a small company that knows a little about steel components. The letter I read was from US. Steel.
YOU WOULD HAVE THOUGHT THAT CHRYSLER SENIOR CORPORATE MANAGEMENT AND THEIR WELD ENGINEER, WOULD AT LEAST TAKE ADVICE FROM A COMPANY CALLED US. STEEL:
The US Steel Corporation makes most of the high strength galvanealed steels sold in North America. I approached the chief metallurgist at US steel for his opinions on the SS wires and the coated metals. In the letter which was sent to me from US. Steel and addressed to Chrysler. The US Steel chief metallurgist also recommended that the MIG process rather than the self shielded SS process be used for the coated steel applications.
Again the data I presented was well received by the majority of Chrysler corporate engineers and also by a very frustrated Chrysler purchasing manager who chaired the meeting. It seems the purchasing manager who chaired the meeting was fed up with dealing with suppliers who had numerous complaints against the use of the SS flux cored weld wires. Let's face it, all good purchasing personnel are driven by cost reduction and this purchasing manager knew that many times Chrysler had been presented with great opportunities for multi-million dollar weld cost reductions, and yet over and over he had seen the engineering team turn their backs on engineering logic.
At the end of the day, as in the past, the Chrysler / Lincoln self shielded wire meetings got bogged down, mostly in BS, as the Chrysler weld engineer would stand his ground and would not back down on his process decision.
This meeting as with the previous presentation eight years ago, again provided over overwhelming evidence along with the support letter from US. Steel, yet the Chrysler weld engineer stood behind his choice of the weld consumables.
The US. Steel report I presented, by the way also took a further step in the examination of "Fatigue Properties". The US Steel report substantiated what I had said eight years earlier. The report indicated that their crash weld test data, showed their were unusual weld failure issues occurring with the self shielded wire weldments, while all the MIG welded parts passed the tests.
With all this evidence, the Chrysler weld engineer would again not allow the change to MIG and the other Chrysler engineers or managers did not seemed concerned about the fatique issues or structural integrity of their vehicles when welded with the SS process.
As time went on, each supplier who was made to use the self shielded products, and bought the related weld issues and considerable cost savings from the MIG process to the table for the Chrysler Corporate management was shot down by the Chrysler weld engineer.
 The self shielded weld wire recommendation may require the weld shop to place two weld layers resulting in uncontrolled weld heat in the parts HAZ (extended grain growth) and uncontrolle excess chemistry which is mixed with the poor weld slag properties, this results in the poor mechanical weld properties.
 The excess weld heat from two weld layers will also vaporize more of the weld HAZ galvanealed coated surface, which further reduces the part's corrosion resistance either side of the weld area.
THE WELD CHEMISTRY OF AN SS WIRES ON A GOOD WELD IS NEVER GUARANTEED:
The bottom line this weld wire recommendation has for years required part suppliers to provide some welds made with self shielded wires that typically do not provide "a guaranteed specific wire chemistry range". The weld wires are typically designed for "single pass welds only" yet because of the poor weld results, the weld shop are often forces to place two weld layers resulting in uncontrolled, excess weld chemistry.
WELD POROSITY AND GALVANEALED. When welding galvanealed parts you can expect low to moderate dispersed weld porosity with the MIG process. You would expect a little more porosity from the colder, faster freeze short circuit weld and less weld porosity from that higher energy spray transfer or pulsed MIG. The higher energy spray transfer mode should typically provide less weld porosity than pulsed welds. When MIG spray or pulsed is used, most of the galvanealed surface is vaporized at the leading edge of the weld puddle.
When welding galvanealed with the SS wires, you will always get more weld porosity that that attained from any MIG weld transfer mode whicg should be used with argon 10 - 20% CO2 mixes. Apart from the influence from the galvanealed coating, the SS slag does an inconsistent POOR job of protecting the weld from the oxygen and nitrogen in the atmosphere.
Much of the self shielded weld porosity results from atmospheric nitrogen that gets into the welds and produces pores that contain N2. Along with the porosity you will find entrapped weld slag which is increase when two layer welds that are applied when weld repairs are necessary. The porosity and slag and zinc additions become a primary concern in the welds, adding to the potential weakness of that weld especially during a collision.
From a weld mechanical, weld chemistry, weld quality and weld productivity perspective, in contrast to MIG wires, the self shielded flux cored wires when tested offer no weld benefits, the self shielded wires do however offer;
[a] excess weld spatter,
[b] tenacious difficult to remove weld slag,
[c] poor weld fill and inconsistent weld fusion potential,
[d] higher weld consumable costs,
[e] weld fumes and dust that should be considered a hazard.
[f] higher than normal weld repair rates that lead to excess part heat on high strength, coated thin gage applications. This heat can greatly reduce both the part mechanical properties and lower the corrosion resistance along side the welds.
[g] welds with excess porosity and slag inclusions will lower fatigue and impact properties.
[h] welds in which quality weld repairs will always be suspect.
After a decade of costly weld disasters since this product was first used on the Neon, the self shielded flux cored weld wire recommendation is still endorsed in 2008 by the same Chrysler corporate engineer. It did not seem to matter to Chrysler that in March 2005 a major Crash Test organization announced that of all the cars it tested the Chrysler Neon got the worst crash test results?
Conclusion: Today you will find the self shielded weld wires used at many big three locations, this statement is simply a reflection of the general lack of weld process expertise that prevails at these corporations.
As with most robot weld problems, the robot weld issues are typically people issues. You may want to know why the managers and engineering team at Chrysler did not do their job. If you are an engineer involved in welding decisions and you have minimal weld process control expertise, it's easy to understand why you will not want to take a stand against a person who is supposed to be qualified. However when you are handed evidence such as presented in this report and you don't react, you did not do the job you are paid to do. If I was Chrysler management and still in business in 2009, I would use this report for future engineer training sessions called "How Not Run a Project"
WHEN A CORPORATE ENGINEER'S LACK OF WELD PROCESS EXPERTISE LEADS TO POOR WELD DECISIONS, THE COSTS TO HIS CORPORATION CAN SOMETIMES BE MILLIONS.
ENGINEERING DEPARTMENTS IN THE AUTO / TRUCK INDUSTRY EMPLOY ENGINEERING MANAGERS, UNFORTUNATELY MANY OF THESE MANAGERS HAVE LESS WELD PROCESS EXPERIENCE THAN THEIR INEXPERIENCED WELD DECISION MAKERS. IN THIS CASE IT'S EASY TO UNDERSTAND THE BIG THREE CORPORATION'S MANAGEMENT APATHY, AND WHY THEY DO NOT RESPOND TO THE PRESENT DAY WELDING PROBLEMS THEY ULTIMATELY IMPOSE ON THEMSELVES AND THEIR SUPPLIERS.
THE SCENARIO DISCUSSED AND EMPHASIZED ON THIS WEB SITE IS AN INDICATION OF THE MANAGEMENT GLASS WALL THAT IS FOUND THROUGHOUT THE AUTO / TRUCK INDUSTRY. THE INVISIBLE WALL THAT IS DISCUSSED EXTENSIVELY IN THIS WEB SITE IS THE WALL THAT ISOLATES APATHETIC MANAGERS AND ENGINEERS FROM THE REAL WORLD MANUFACTURING PRACTICES FOUND ON THE SHOP FLOORS.
Please dont get pissed of at the messanger, To learn Ed's 7 Steps to Robot Weld Process Controls, click here.
2007: July 05.
Ed, It looks like we are just starting out on a new Chrysler project welding a galvanealed product, galvanealed NS 6000 D series 44a. According to the Chrysler spec, we would be allowed to use a solid carbon steel ER 70S-3 MIG wire, but they require a 75 argon - 25 CO2 gas mixture for this. I think Chrysler takes the cake on this gas selection. By the way if our engineers had selected galvanized material, according to the Chrysler spec we would have been forced into using the self shielded FCAW process.....Is the Chrysler weld engineer from this planet? What I also don't understand is the fact that they are specifying a coated material, and then we are still required to e-coat the part. I wonder what the reasoning is behind double coating the cradles.....I'm sure they don't even know.
Regards RG. Tier One.
Ed's Answer" don't look for weld rationalization out of Chrysler. The choice of the 75-25 gas restricts the use of spray transfer on parts over 0.070 and when used with spray or pulsed will be the cause of spatter. As for the self shielded wire, only the Chrysler corporate engineer knows why he still insists on recommending one of the world's worst electrodes for coated materials. As for the double coating, it makes no sense. What does make sense is to coat parts after welding as welds simply destroys the zinc coatings in the weld area. As I said don't look for logic when dealing with Chrysler..
May 2006 E-mail From PL
Ed. I have just read your Chrysler Neon article regarding the cross members and self shielded flux cored wire issues. I fully endorse your views and comments. Its a shame that many of the so called "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 an extensive lack of weld process knowledge and experience with the welding and engineering personnel in the auto / truck industry. I must also thank you for your books 'A Management & Engineering Guide to MIG & the Training' materials both of which we as a company refer to regularly.
Cheers Mate. PL - UK.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF LACK OF PROCESS EXPERTISE: FEW ENGINEERS OR DESIGNERS IN THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ARE AWARE OF THE WELD CURRENT AND PART THICKNESS COMPATIBILITY WITH THE COMMON AVAILABLE MIG AND FLUX CORED WELD CONSUMABLES USED IN THEIR FACILITIES? EVEN FEWER WILL UNDERSTAND THE WELD ENERGY DIFFERENCES GENERATED BETWEEN A REVERSE POLARITY MIG WIRE USING SHORT CIRCUIT, PULSED OR A SPRAY, VERSUS A STRAIGHT POLARITY SELF SHIELDED WIRE?
IN THE GOOD OLD DAYS, ENGINEERING KNOWLEDGE USED TO BE GAINED FROM BOOKS AND HANDS ON EXPERIENCE. TODAY FEW ENGINEERS ARE IN CONTROL OF THEIR PROCESSES AND EVEN FEWER WILL HAVE READ A BOOK ON WELD PROCESS CONTROLS.
IT'S ALSO A SAD WELD REALITY THAT TOO MANY ENGINEERS IN AUTO / TRUCK PLANTS RELY ON WELD ADVICE FROM SALES REPS OR FROM ORGANIZATIONS THAT MAKE THE WELD CONSUMABLES OR WELD EQUIPMENT.
FOR THOSE MANAGERS WHO ARE TOO BUSY PUTTING OUT THEIR DAILY, COSTLY ROBOT WELD SHOP FIRES AND SPENDING MILLIONS ON UNNECESSARY ROBOT WELD REWORK, ALL ANY PERSON HAS TO DO TO GET CONTROL OF THE MIG AND FCAW WELDING ROBOTS IS TAKE LESS ADVICE FROM THE WELD EQUIPMENT AND CONSUMABLE MANUFACTURES AND TAKE A FEW HOURS TO READ PROCESS CONTROL BOOKS.
Chrysler Recall date: Not reported
Units potentially affected: 3,683
NHTSA campaign number: 99V001000
Defective part or component: STRUCTURE:BODY
Description: Vehicle Description: Passenger vehicles. The rear suspension crossmember may be missing welds. This condition can result in structural cracks in the body, and reduced crash protection in the event of a rear impact. Dealers will inspect the vehicles for any missing welds, and will have structural rivets installed in place of the missing welds.
GALVANEALED PARTS AND WELD POROSITY. When you read in a weld spec "that
E-COAT FOR CORROSION PROTECTION: It was very difficult to remove the self shielded weld slag, so you can be sure on these welded parts the E Coat which was later applied did not adhere as it should, well who's worried about corrosion when the parts are not mechanically sound.
SINGLE PASS WELD WIRES: It's ironic that some the self shielded weld wires that made the welds were at this time approved by the AWS for "single pass welds only". A single weld pass limitation for a weld consumable is an indication of either excess or uncontrolled alloy content in the weld wire. When requiring weld repairs and welding with two layers, these weld wires will automatically result in excess alloy content resulting typically in welds that may have poor ductility. The weld chemistry and weld mechanical issues generated by the two weld layers are further aggravated when you add the affects of excess slag, excess weld heat, internal weld defects along with the addition of zinc from the galvanealed coating.
" WELD ENGINEERS AND FUNDAMENTAL WELD PROCESS EXPERTISE"
 A self shielded weld wire recommendation for auto / truck parts would never be accepted by a knowledgeable weld engineer and this weld wire recommendation would never be accepted in a facility that prides itself on it's engineering, weld production and weld quality capability.
 The self shielded weld wire recommendation would never be accepted by a facility that has pride in the components it builds and worries about weld quality, weld mechanicals and product liability.
 The self shielded weld wire recommendation would never be accepted by any management who is concerned about the health of its workers.
 The lack of an effective manual weld repair procedure would not have been approved in an organization that is concerned about the weld integrity on the parts it delivers.
 The self shielded wire more than doubled the production time required to produce the parts.
WHAT ABOUT CONCERN FOR THE WORKERS HEALTH?
Poor quality, self shielded robot welds and poor robot weld production rates were not the only weld problems in the Chrysler plant. The self shielded weld wires had alloys that were maxed out (PEL) in the MSD sheets. The alloy levels in the weld wires recommended create a serious health hazard and some of the self shielded wires accepted and still in use have alloys which in the form of smoke or dust are classed as "carcinogenic".
The robot cells utilized had exhaust units, however the manual
repair welders working near the cells were required to wear breathing apparatus and the smoke from the manual weld repair area floated throughout the rest of the plant.
Another concern with the self shielded flux cored wires that create so much weld rework is the useless grinding and cleaning of the welds that took place befor the manual weld repairs repaired took place. The dust / particles created from this rework also created a serious safety hazard.
Once the self shielded, high level alloy particles and dust from grinding repairs get into your shop air how do you control it? The bottom line you don't have to worry about weld fume or dust controls if you make rational weld engineering decisions and refuse to use this process.
JOB SATISFACTION, WORKERS, FATIGUE, WELDER TURN OVER AND LIABILITY: For those of you not used to these self shielded wires promoted by Lincoln Electric, please be aware that your robot operators and weld repair personnel when working with these weld consumables can expect fatigue, and other weld fume symptoms. The company using these products can also anticipate employee turn over issues and poor worker moral.
WELD PROCESS EXPERTISE - OWNERSHIP - RESPONSIBILTY - ACCOUNTABILITY:
Are those robot weld Reject bins HALF
FULL, or are they HALF EMPTY?
When the robot weld reject bins are filling too rapidly or the daily weld production goals are not achieved, the manager or engineer will call another waste of time weld meeting. At this meeting there will be the usual unqualified opinions on the root cause of the weld problems. Typically one thing the daily global weld meetings will have in common, is there will usually will not be one MIG weld process control - best practice expert sitting at the table.
At meetings such as this the blame has to fall on someone shoulders so those managers - engineers that should have ownership will often point their fingers at;
 THE ROBOT OPERATORS.
 THE ROBOT PROGRAMMERS.
 THE ROBOT EQUIPMENT.
 THE ROBOT FIXTURE MAKER.
 THE ROBOT INTERGRATOR.
 THE WELD EQUIPMENT.
 THE WELD CONSUMABLES.
 THE PARTS.
 Jesus - Mohammed - Buddha, or President Obama who seems to get the blame for everything.
To solve robot weld process issues, and optimize weld quality and productivity, all weld decision makers will benefit from my Self Teaching - Training Robot Weld Process Control - Best Practice Resource.
If you want to make your weld manufacturing life more expensive, more frustrating and more complex than it needs to be, and then on too of that produce lower weld quality and productivity than your potential, you should take advice from a salesman, take no ownership and do what American Axle did. This company purchased Lincoln Pulsed MIG Power Wave equipment for its robot Ford axle application, without first checking the pulsed MIG weld performance.
It was around the year 2000: My weld task appeared simple. American Axle, (AA) a tier one mfg. located in Michigan ordered two robot systems to weld truck axles for Ford. The company I worked for supplied the robots. As the weld mgr I had responsibility for setting the robot data so these two cells could provide hundreds of thousands of axles each year. Once the robot cells were complete, as part of the contract, my company was then required to provide a few thousand welded axles. this was part of the robot cell run off.
For many years, American Axle had utilized the traditional Lincoln CV 400 and 600 amp units, welding with the Spray transfer mode. With the CV equipment, there had never been any serious weld quality or productivity issues, however we all know there is always someone waiting in the wings ready to spoil things. The corporate weld engineer at AA. had selected the pulsed transfer mode for this application, and likely with advice from Lincoln, he had decided on the Lincoln pulsed Power Wave equipment.
Note: The carbon steel MIG wire "size" selected by AA. was 0.052 (1.4mm).
Two factors were critical for the axle project:
 The axle fillet weld sizes must not be smaller than a 1/4 (6mm).
 As the annual axle production was approx. a million units, every second saved on the robot's weld cycle times was considered critical to the production bottom line.
THE TRADITIONAL AXLE MIG WELD METHOD:
This axle manufacture has been producing axles for decades using the regular MIG CV equipment. The axles were welded with an 0.052 (1.4mm) MIG wire, (0.045 wire would be better) and an argon CO2 mix. The CV equipment used the spray mode to weld the 1/4 fillet welds. Typical robot weld travel speeds of 20 to 22 in./min should be achieved.
My first objective with the Lincoln PowerWave, using the pulsed mode and 0.052 wire, was to to attain the same travel rates (production times) as that previously attained with the spray mode.
When setting the Lincoln PowerWave weld data, to attain the desired weld speeds, I had to set the 0.052 (1.4mm) pulsed wire feed rate 400 - 450 in./min. This 400 - 450 in./min wire feed rate is considered the max high setting of the traditional spray transfer mode when using an 0.052 wire. Remember this wire feed rate was used successfully used for years with the conventional, much lower cost, more durable CV MIG equipment.
The Lincoln Power Wave Pulsed Weld Dilemma:
It was evident when I was setting the Power Wave, that the pulsed equipment did not respond well to the 0.052 wire and the 420 in./min wire feed settings. Large MIG wire diameters, and high MIG wire feed rates "require high peak pulsed current". The resulting high peak current pulsed settings produced a excessively high energy arc plasma that was both intense and narrow in shape. This plasma caused a weld that produced a "deep penetrating (digging) effect" on the axle welds. It also created extra large deep craters at the weld ends.
The deep penetration from the Power Wave pulsed settings at an average weld speed of 22 ipm resulted with axle welds that ended up with an external fillet weld profile that was measured at only 3/16 (4.8mm). This was not acceptable to the Ford weld spec requirements.
When the 3/16 fillet welds were sectioned, the macro evaluation of the internal weld profile revealed that the intense, narrow pulsed plasma had caused the root part of the weld to penetrate almost threes times greater than that typically attained with a traditional MIG spray weld.
Any weld eng. would know not to
produce weld profiles like this.
While the strength of a fillet weld can be measure across the the throat, THE FORD WELD SPEC REQUIRED THAT THE AXLE FILLET WELD SIZES BE MEASURE AT THE WELD SURFACE PROFILE:
To get the deep penetrating fillet welds to the 1/4 fillet size, the robot, pulsed weld travel rate would have to be reduced to a weld travel rate of 15 to 17 in./min. This would create approx. a 20 - 25% reduction in the robot weld travel rates and would have a huge impact on the annual axle production. With this in mind, I went through all the possible external Power Wave pulsed parameter program adjustments, however with the desired wire feed rate, I could not change the intensity or the narrow profile of the pulsed MIG weld plasma. I reluctantly contacted Lincoln. The reason I was reluctant was simple. I already knew what the weld problem was, and a life time of dealing with Lincoln weld issues had increased my hick skin and my attitude was minimal expectations.
As this job was for Ford, Lincoln responded rapidly with it's reputation on the line "again." Lincoln flew in one of it's brighter, weld engineers, and he arrived with his cell phone attached to his ear and a laptop in tow. I demonstrated with the robot and Power Wave settings to how at the required 0.052 production wire feed rate, the resulting pulsed plasma that was produced was "too narrow, too agitated and too intense for the desired welds.
The Lincoln young engineer who to me looked like he just graduated high school, smiled and told me not to worry. He informed me that one of the prime features of the PowerWave was that with the assistance of their unique lap top software, he could change the power source wave forms to suit any application. I smiled back at him, and said, good luck.
THE LINCOLN ENGINEER DID WHAT YOU WILL FIND WITH MANY ENGINEERS AND TECHNICIANS DOING, HE "PLAYED AROUND" WITH THE WELD SETTINGS, BUT IN THE SO CALLED SOPHISTICATED WORLD WE NOW LIVE IN, THOSE PULSED MIG WELD SETTINGS WERE NOW IN A LAP TOP.
To perform the test pulsed welds, I provided the Lincoln engineer with a long piece of 3/8 (9 mm) carbon steel plate. The plate had a ground surface. I told the Lincoln engineer that when his power source could place a simple robot butt weld on the surface of this 3/8 plate without the 0.052 wire providing an unacceptable digging undercut / crater effect, then his work would be done. Two days later, his over worked lap top had provided every possible combination of pulsed parameters and wave forms and the bottom line was that he told me what I already was aware of. With the large 0.052 wire feed rate set at 420 ipm, the high energy pulsed arc plasma was still too narrow and too intense for the axle welds.
The red faced Lincoln rep did what many do in this situation, he packed up his computer and left, and promised that "his people" would look into the situation and get back to me ASAP.
Over the years I have heard from companies like Lincoln, Miller and Panasonic, the "we will get back to you" canned response many times. Of course, "his people" never got back to us.
I hope that while trying to set those pulsed welds, the young Lincoln engineer had absorbed a weld fact that I had known while he was still in primary school.
PHYSICS AND WELD CURRENT LIMITS: THE AMOUNT OF ELECTRONS THAT CAN FLOW THROUGH
A CONDUCTOR IN A MANNER THAT DOES NOT DISTURB THE WELD ARC PLASMA, PRODUCE OPTIMUM WELD LIMITS THAT ARE INFLUENCED BY THE THE WELD WIRE DIAMETER SELECTED.
The only wave forms I want to see are the ocean waves when I go surfing. Pulsed MIG weld equipment can offer millions of Useless Wave Forms, however like spray transfer the pulsed mode provides a limited optimum weld parameter range for a specific wire diameter. The pulsed weld parameter range has wire feed, pulsed frequency and peak current limitations. For a given wire diameter the resulting weld current from the peak and back ground pulsed current cannot exceed the s maximum current that utilized for optimum, traditional spray transfer.
This is what an optimum 1/4 fillet MIG weld should look like and I produced
this weld with a power source that cost 75% less than the Power Wave.
Using an 0.045 or 0.052 wire, the typical maximum
automated weld speed for a 1/4 fillet is 20 to 22 inch/min.
With the pulsed MIG mode, the weld plasma energy is influenced from both the peak and low back ground current that's required to produce distinct weld drops which serve little purpose for most steel welds. To compensate for that low back ground current that is usually around 80 - 120 amps and is 50% of the weld cycle, an extra high peak current of 400 - 450 amps would be typical. Large wire diameters and high wire feed rates require high pulsed frequency . Combine that high pulsed frequency with that vert high peak current and the electrons get more than a little agitated and therefor it should be easy to understand why the pulsed arc at specific high settings can get result in a narrow intense, digging pulsed plasma which as in the AA axle case had more in common with a plasma cutting arc, than it did with an optimum MIG welding arc.
MANY OF THOSE GUYS THAT DESIGN MIG WELD EQUIPMENT, WILL NOT BE AWARE OF THE MIG PLASMA OR EVEN THE CURRENT REQUIREMENTS FOR OPTIMUM MIG WELD QUALITY:
With the MIG process, a stable, optimum "bell shaped" plasma is desirable. With this plasma profile, the less concentrated and less intense plasma distributes the arc energy over a wider area and provides good surface coverage of the weld. A plasma profile such as this will not result in an aggressive action digging weld.
Welding steels thicker than 6 mm. When using spray and large diameter MIG wires bigger than 0.045 and the requirement is high deposition rates > 14 lb/hr, a typical spray weld current range of "380- 400" amps is normal.
YOU WOULD HAVE THOUGH SOMEONE AT LINCOLN, AMERICAN AXLE OR FORD WOULD HAVE SEEN THAT AT THE DESIRED PULSED WELD CURRENT FOR THE AXLES, THE RESULTING ARC PLASMA FROM THE LINCOLN POWER WAVE MIG UNIT LOOKED MORE SUITABLE FOR PLASMA CUTTING THAN FOR A CONTROLLED, STABLE MIG WELD.
YOU MAY ALS0 WONDER WHY THIS POWER SOURCE WAS NOT EVALUATED BY THE AMERICAN AXLE WELD ENGINEER BEFORE BEING SELECTED FOR THE AXLE ROBOT CELLS. PERHAPS THE WELD ENGINEER RESPONSIBLE, BELIEVED THAT WHAT THE LINCOLN SALES REP HAD TOLD HIM.
As the down cast Lincoln engineer walked towards the plant exit with his lap top and it's unique, but useless Power Wave Form software cradled in his arms, I who have little patience for the time wasting, universal, sales induced, bovine fecal weld matter that seems to ooze out of too many weld equipment - consumable companies, and being a pragmatic thick skinned Manchurian born in the industrial revolution heart land of Manchester. I of course decided to pour a little salt on this engineers wounds.
I asked the Lincoln rep, "don't you think it's a little ridiculous that at the end of the day, your costly Power Wave pulsed equipment provides inferior weld results to your traditional DC 400 amp MIG power source which is more durable and can be purchased for 30% of the price of a Power Wave"? The Lincoln rep did not reply to my question, he just shrugged his sagging shoulders and left looking like a wet blanket.
WELD SHOPS, WELD COSTS AND BENEFITS: If selected, the lower cost, traditional Lincoln CV. DC. 400 amp power source, or a Miller Delta Weld power source used on this axle application would produce spray transfer welds with superior weld fusion profiles and reduce that pulsed weld cycle time by approx. 20%.
THE LINCOLN POWER WAVE SAGA CONTINUED AND THINGS GOT EVEN MORE SERIOUS WHEN WELD CRACKS WERE REVEALED IN A GOOD PERCENTAGE OF THE AXLE WELDS.
After the Lincoln rep left, I went back to using a lower wire feed, less digging pulsed setting for the 1/4 (6 mm) fillet welds. We then produced axle welds with the Power Wave, and I set a weld travel speed of 17 ipm to attain that 6 mm fillet.
After I got rid of the undercut and large end craters with the conservative pulsed settings, I then place my attention to the Ford weld evaluation requirements for the truck axles. The weld spec required a "macro cross section examination" of a specific amount of axle fillet welds. A measurement of the surface fillet weld cross section was also required to ensure the minimum weld size dimensions were being attained.
In evaluating the Lincoln Power Wave weld cross cut sections from the axle pulsed welds. I noticed even at the improved lower pulsed settings that from my point of view the weld penetration profiles were still too deep and too narrow. Evaluation of these cross sections revealed cracks as shown on sketch right. These hot weld cracks are typical for weld profiles like this on HS steels. The cracks occurred in more than 20 % of the axle weld samples that I evaluated.
Due to the narrow, pulsed deep weld penetration profiles and restrained high tensile steel weld joints, we were getting classic "Hot Weld Cracks" in the narrow root section of the deep penetrating axle welds.
As we had minimal weld evaluation / test equipment at the robot company, I had the University of Colorado metallurgy department verify that the axle weld cracks did result from the poor pulsed weld profiles. They quickly provided written confirmation that these were classic Hot Weld Cracks.
Remember the center weld cracks were not a surprise from these Lincoln Power Wave pulsed welds, as before we did the macros, I had complained and provided written report to American Axle management about the poor pulsed weld depth to width ratios, and my concerns for potential hot weld cracks.
Before we produced any more axles I notified my management, who then notified AA management of the pulsed production and weld crack issues. In my report. I informed AA that the use of the Lincoln Power Wave pulsed mode would continue to result in deep, narrow weld fusion, and this poor weld profile combined with the high strength steels and highly restrained weld joints provided a classic set of circumstance that contribute to Hot Center weld cracks. At this time I also requested to call a hold on this project.
The robot project manager and I flew to Michigan where we had a meeting with the AA company corporate management and their responsible engineers. I explained to these personnel that their choice of the Lincoln Pulsed Power Wave, and the pulsed weld parameters utilized were creating weld cracks and reducing the axle cycle times by approx. 20 to 25% . I explained that if they complained about the Power Wave weld equipment to Lincoln, I believed Lincoln would have no choice but to exchange the four Power Wave power sources for their conventional CV. MIG equipment. If the axle company would make the power source change we could get the desired weld cycle times, eliminate future potential weld crack issues and reduce future liability concerns for axle failures. The axle company management thanked us for the data and said they would consider the matter.
WITH MOST ROBOT WELD ISSUES, IT'S THE EXPERTISE OF THE HUMAN WELD DECISION MAKERS THAT TOO OFTEN IS THE ROOT CAUSE OF WELD QUALITY OR PRODUCTIVITY ISSUES.
The bottom line: The AA company employed a weld engineer who must have lacked weld process expertise, (similar to the Chrysler situation). This engineer was no different from many of Detroit's engineers who when requiring weld answers, seek advice from sales rep. The AA engineer was now in a difficult position as the production schedule was being delayed and he did not want to loose face in front of his management. The AA weld engineer insisted that the Power Wave was not the cause of the weld issues. By the way this engineer never came out to our facility to view or participate with the weld tests, which was quite remarkable when you consider that Ford was his customer and the fact that these robots were going to produce more than a million axles.
Like many auto / truck companies, American Axle management and senior engineers had to rely on the individual that had caused the selection of the Lincoln equipment.
The engineer would not back down from his Power Wave equipment selection, and after we left, he convinced his managers that irrespective of the technical facts, the University of Colorado weld report and the numerous weld crack samples presented, that he had made the right weld equipment choice. The weld equipment decision was now cast in concrete and again Lincoln was of the responsibility hook.
Meanwhile as the axle company could not take immediate delivery of the robots. The robot company I worked for was asked to weld a few thousand axles. During this manufacturing period at our facility, I continued to evaluate the welds and the center weld cracks continued. No one I discussed this with seemed to want to stop welding or take this issue to a higher level. I left this robot company a short time later and the axles weld cracks still occurring. As I happen to have a conscience. I sent a registered letter to one of Ford's lawyers in Detroit. In the letter I spelt out my concerns with the axle weld cracks for their trucks. I never received a reply from the Ford Legal department.
Could it be that Ford did not want to hear about it's axle weld issues. This was the time when tires were falling apart and killing people. Is it possible that Ford would rather wait to see how many axles fail on it's trucks and how many life's are lost before it decides what action should be taken". Or perhaps they hoped that Detroit's best selling trucks will die of rust before those axle weld cracks can propagate to failure.
WITH ALL ENGINEERING DECISIONS, IT PAYS TO BE OPEN MINDED. IT ALSO PAYS TO TAKE OWNERSHIP AND KNOW THE PROCESSES THAT ARE CRITICAL IN YOUR MFG. ONE DAY SOON MAYBE I WILL WRITE MY LAST BOOK AND CALL IT "IMAGINE A WELD SHOP THAT RUNS WITHOUT THE INFLUENCE OF SALESMEN."
YOU COULD ASK, IS THIS WEB STORY
RELATED TO THOSE FORD AXLE WELDS?
2004 Ford Explorer: Rear Axle Problem,
Hi all. I wanted to know if anyone has any advice or if this problem has happened to you. We have a V8 2004 Ford Explorer that we bought in August of 2003 and we have to get a new rear axle put on which fortunately is covered under warranty. The mechanic told me the weld failed. I haul my bumper pull 2 horse trailer about 2x monthly (since Oct. 2003) with my 1200lb Quarter Horse loaded. How could this happen to a new vehicle? Is it my fault for expecting it to haul my trailer? I know other people who haul their horses with Explorer's and have never had any problems. Is this vehicle of ours a lemon? I would like to know what you all think! Thanks!!!
The following will tell you something about the general, global management and engineering lack of weld process ownership.
 Robot Weld FACT:
In over 90% of the global plants that use MIG or flux cored welding robots, you will find that the primary weld decision makers lack of MIG Best Weld Practice and Weld Process Control Expertise.
 Robot Weld FACT:
It's difficult in most plants, to find a manager who will accept full ownership, accountability and responsibility for the daily weld quality - productivity and costs attained
 Robot Weld FACT:
In most plants, the QA personnel may be very capable of finding weld defects, yet less than one in 10 will be aware of how to make manual or robot weld process changes that will prevent those weld defects.
 Robot Weld FACT:
It's too often a sad fact that persons such as QA managers and Inspectors who typically don't know how to optimize the robot weld quality - productivity will often get more respect and sometimes more pay than the robot technicians in the plant who with proper process control Training could readily prevent the costly weld defects and increase the weld productivity driving down the weld costs.
 Robot Weld FACT:
In most plants that use robots, the weld decision maker's job descriptions are either none existent, or poorly defined.
 Robot Weld FACT:
The ratio of engineers to employees is pretty respectable in auto - truck plants while the amount of qualified weld engineers and technicians in global weld facilities is extremely low. However when qualified engineers or technicians are hired in auto plants, perhaps 1 in 10 will be given the full responsibility, and accountability for the robot, operators and weld personnel that daily impact the companies robot weld quality and productivity.
1985 or 2015 WHATS THE DIFFERENCE?
CONSIDERING THE AGE & SIMPLICITY OF THE COMMON WELD PROCESSES USED, the lack of qualified weld managers, engineers, supervisors, technicians and trainers throughout the industrial world is staggering.
I was often requested by Fortune 500 companies to take the role as either a Plant or Corporate Weld Engineer. My response was always the same. I would inform the senior executives that I would only look at the position not as the Weld Engineer, but as the "Weld Manager." And in the role as the weld manager, I would be given full management responsibility, accountability and ownership, for all the weld processes, the weld equipment, the consumables and for any persons involved with the welds. That way I could quickly get the weld quality - productivity - cost results that the company desired.
GOOD WELD MANAGERS, ALWAYS A RARE SPECIES: If you want to know how few global companies are looking for weld managers, go to the some of world's largest job site, and in the keyword box, type in two words, "weld manager", and then for contrast type in the words "QA manager".
It does not matter if its robot or manual welds, you cannot separate people from the welds produced, and therefore it's important that Weld Managers be always responsible for the Supervisors that impact the robots and weld processes utilized. It's unfortunate that this rarely happens in most auto - truck plants, and this lack of logical people control, creates a huge disconnect in consistently getting the desired daily weld quality - productivity results.
In general, it's unfortunate that too many Weld Supervisors, view their role as simply bringing in the materials in the East door and getting the products shipped out of the West door on time. In reality most weld supervisors are simply "Product Expediters".
Plants that are interested in attaining consistent, optimum weld quality and productivity should hire a "HANDS ON Weld Manager" who understands the concept about process ownership, weld accountability, weld responsibility, weld process controls and best weld practices..
2008: DAM IT, MORE WELD PROBLEMS GET THAT SALESMAN IN HERE NOW:
In industries which daily drown from costly, unnecessary weld issues, a frequent management - engineer crutch for solving the weld problems, would be to call the robot integrator, or the weld equipment mfg., or a weld sales rep who has a degree in English or History.
Chatting with the sales person over a nice lunch of course will lead to a recommendation from the rep on the possible purchase of of his companies, costly, and usually unnecessary "Pulsed MIG weld equipment". The pulsed MIG equipment will sound like an impressive solution, however the weld reality as it's been for three decades, is this equipment will be loaded with many useless, electronic bells and whistles that cannot compensate for weld process control ignorance.
Of course once the company has purchased the costly pulsed MIG power source, and most of the daily weld issues remain, over another nice lunch and more wasteful meetings, that same salesman may try and convince your company that what you really need is his companies unique three - four part gas mix, or a new metal cored or MIG wire.
2015. SIMPLE AND LOW COST IS USUALLY WELD REALITY: As a process control expert, over five decades, I was requested by over 1000 companies in 13 countries, to provide weld quality - productivity improvements. On numerous weld applications, I made manual & robot, MIG Flux Cored welds that always produced the highest possible weld quality at the lowest possible weld costs.
I made the optimum MIG welds with traditional, durable, low cost CV MIG equipment that typically costs $3000 to $4000. With this equipment I would use a simple, low cost, two component, Argon 2 to 20% CO2 gas mix along with a low cost but well made MIG wire. These are products available today in 2015, and the low cost MIG products purchased today are little different from those that were available to me in the 1960s.
Anyone managing a weld shop would do well to remember that the global MIG and flux cored weld industry, is in general a "Self Taught Industry." This is an industry that evolved from using two simple manual weld processes, SMAW (Stick) and GTAW (TIG). These two weld processes have a common denominator. Both processes operate with only a single primary weld current control, and therefore minimal weld shop focus was typically placed on TIG and stick weld "process controls." With these processes when you need more weld heat you simply turned up the weld current control. With these two processes the weld shop focus was typically placed on the "welders skills".
In contrast to Stick and TIG welds, the MIG process and equipment offers a variety of MIG weld transfer modes and the parameters change with the different consumables utilized. Also the MIG equipment can be used for the flux cored process that utilizes a wide variety of consumables. The bottom line, manual or robot MIG - FCA process optimization has never required the purchase of bells and whistles or ridiculous three part gas mixes. MIG process optimization simply requires "MIG Process Control Expertise and Best Weld Practices knowledge.
A SAD SOLUTION FOR MANY MANAGERS TO INCREASE THEIR ROBOT WELD PRODUCTIVITY, IS PURCHASE MORE ROBOTS:
It's ironic over the last three decades, that the majority of the companies that purchase more robots have rarely attained the best possible weld quality - productivity with the robots they already have.
Surely before purchasing costly robot cells, company management would want to provide their personnel with the Weld Best Practices - Process Control Training program. This program is the missing link in most weld shops and is essential to consistently attain optimum robot and manual weld quality and productivity at the lowest possible weld costs.
For those that work in a weld shop and are thinking, "our welders are experienced and most have been welding for more than 20 years". I will repeat that weld skills has nothing to do with weld process control and best weld practices expertise.
If you believe your key weld personnel have the weld process control expertise they need, take a look at the following weld tests and then ask your self, how well would I do, or how well would my weld personnel do with either this MIG or flux cored weld test, and would this type of type process expertise benefit our organization?
 Fundamental MIG Process Control Weld Test.
 Fundamental Flux Cored Process Control Weld Test.
Weld Process Control - Best Weld Practice training solutions for any manual or robot MIG and flux cored welds, available here.
This web site started in the 1990s is the only global web site that without advertising revenue has promoted the management / engineering ownership message.
2004. For decades, lack of effective robot weld management was
the norm, with the world' best selling Truck Frames.
There were numerous, well paid managers - engineers at the plant that made the above robot welded truck frames, and daily these guys were walking by welds such as this, and yet they did not see a problem. And if they did, they most would not have known the weld resolutions required.
ROBOTS AND FORD FRAME WELDS:
When a company cannot control their robot MIG welds,
you know there are manual MIG weld issues.
I have provided weld process advice and improvements for most of the primary car - truck producers and their tier one suppliers. The following information summary is from one of my many reports. This report dealt with the root causes of the numerous robot & manual weld quality - productivity issues that occured on a Ford Truck Frame robot line.
The reason Ford management requested my input was their new robot multi-million dollar lines were creating dramatic weld quality concerns and cost consequence.
 At the time of the report, the Ford robot weld productivity was only 50 % of the very conservative daily production goal.
 Each day,100% of the MIG welded robot frames required extensive weld rework,
and of the approx. 140 robot welds on each frame, typically 80 - 90 required manual weld rework.
 The manual weld repair rework comprised of unqualifed workers simply covering up the poor robot welds with poor quality manual welds.
 Of the few, so called critical welds on the frames that were sectioned daily, macro examination of the welds, revealed on average, that 40% of the welds revealed lack of weld fusion, a defect that should have rejected both the welds and the frames.
The numerous, manual MIG weld repairs to the robot frame welds provided a patched, third world looking product which provided no solution to the unnaceptable robot welds and also the excess weld heat from the repair welds that passed through the HAZ of the HSS steels, could not have helped the frames integrity.
Note: From my experience, most Auto - Truck companies should be thankful that most of their customers that purchase a car or a truck, will never get to view the welds.
Many of the management and engineering personnel that I had weld discussions with at the Ford facility, seemed disinterested or apathetic about their robot weld issues. I used to believe this attitude was simply a result of their weld process ignorance..
Also adding to the robot weld problems was the use of inappropriate, over size weld MIG wire consumable, along with the selection of poor performance, over priced pulsed MIG equipment. The pulsed MIG equipment was unable to deliver optimum, consistent, pulsed weld transfer. For the rest of the Ford Quality is Job One story, click here
The blatant lack of weld management - engineer responsibility - accountability for the robot weld issues at the Ford frame plant was obviously a problem that should have been addressed at the Ford Corporate level.
Ford would definately benefit from my Robot Process Controls - Best Practice Program.
FOR FIVE DECADES THIS INDUSTRY HAS HAD GLOBAL MIG - FCA WELD EDUCATION FAILURE:
A lack of MIG - FCA weld Process Control - Best Weld Practice Education and expertise, has for decades, been the root cause of MIG manual - robot weld issues:
An important role for any weld decision maker is to understand the weld process control - best weld practices requirements for the process - optimization. With this expertise the weld decision maker would recognize the expertise that's missing from the weld shop or from the robot cells.
Many USA Colleges and Universities offer weld programs for both weld and mechanical engineers, however I am not aware of any education facility that ever placed emphasis on teaching the future, potential weld managers, engineers, supervisors, technicians or weld personnel, the Weld Process Control & Best Weld Practice Expertise that's necessary with the world's two most widely utilized weld processes, MIG and Flux Cored.
Note:These two processes typically account for 80 to 90% of the welds produced daily.
IN THE 13 COUNTRIES THAT I ASSISTED FORTUNE 500 COMPANIES WITH THEIR ROBOT OR MANUAL WELD ISSUES, I NEVER MET A MANAGER OR ENGINEER THAT HAD RECIEVED THE WELD PROCESS CONTROL EDUCATION THAT IS REQUIRED TO CONSISTENTLY, OPTIMIZE THE WELD QUALITY & PRODUCTIVITY.
I believe that it's common at the Universities and Colleges that taught welding, that in the classes you would find inexperienced professors that would use up many course hours teaching metallurgy or what I call the "Text Book Process Courses" The focus was often on processes such as Laser or Electron-Beam. So while the students did not correctly learn the process control - best practice requirements for the weld processes that account for > 80 % of the daily welds produced, they would spend extensive time on the laser and EB process, two processes that account for less than one tenth of one percent of the global welds produced daily. By the way Laser and EB process are two processes in which the process operation and process control experience is greatly influenced from working with the specific unique equipment and applications thats found in the plants.
Note: In the five decades that I have been in a 1000 plus companies, only once was i asked to resolve an EB weld problem, and in that application I discovered that the welds could have been done with a process and equip that costs $350.000.00 less
If all weld students and engineering students spent more practical and real world classroom time on learning the manual - automated, Best Weld Practices - Process Control Data required with the MIG, Flux Cored and Resistance Weld processes, the global weld industry, and especially the large industries such as construction equipment, automotive and ship building, would have the potential to generate savings of hundreds of millions of dollars daily..
THE GLOBAL "MANUAL WELDER" EDUCATION FAILURE:
The majority (not all) of the global, community colleges that provide manual welder training programs in 2015, are simply stuck in a 1960's time warp.
The weld reality in 2015, as it was in 1975, is that the MIG - Flux Cored processes are still responsible for the great majority of welds produced daily and the demand for MIG and flux cored welders is always healthy and the lack of welders is often a concern with management that simply don't know better.
WELD REALITY: If tomorrow, a company had to hire MIG or flux cored weld personnel, and the individuals interviewed had "ZERO weld expertise", it would require less than 10 days with my Training Program to make a MIG - Flux Cored welder, and unlike the experienced welders in the plant, the new guys would not have to "play around" with their weld controls. By the way the new guy would be capable of providing optimum weld quality - productivity with any all position, code application.
Note: As for the "hands on skills" that are taught in most weld schools with the MIG - Flux Cored process, lets face it, if the weld instructors don't fully understand the MIG and Flux Cored weld controls and best weld practices, how can they teach the correct required weld skills? For decades the majority of weld educators were much more comfortable with SMAW process than with the MIG or Flux Cored process. And in numerous plants I visited, I witnessed the MIG - FCA welders using inappropriate STICK weld techniques, and their reason was that's the way they were taught by the local community trade school,
Note: These comments also apply to the welder training schools and programs provided in most global ship yards and by large corporations. While this information may upset many, please remember that if the fundamental MIG and flux cored weld tests provided at this web site were given to the weld educators and professors who teach these courses, few would pass the tests.
MIG WELD PROCESS CONTROL & BEST WELD PRACTICE APATHY HAS ALWAYS BEEN "INTERNATIONAL IN SCOPE":
MIG and Flux Cored weld process education apathy is not just a USA issue. European and Asian engineers still get much of their weld advice from weld product salesmen. Its also a fact that Asia and Europe has a greater propensity to purchase weld equipment loaded with useless electronic welding bells and whistles. Of course the bells and whistles provided more toys for them to play with
I believe strongly that with the Japanese, If these guys cannot saturate a robot cell and weld power source with useless electronic bells and whistles, they will end up with a migraine.
DONT GET UPSET WITH THE MESSAGE: If you are a young university trained engineer rather than get upset about the above comments and get mad at the messenger, do something about it. Lets face it, the global weld industry needs "hands on" managers, engineers, technicians and supervisors who are Process Control - Best Practice experts, perhaps you could become one, after all its not a bad way to get a better paying job.
This is what the Weld Industry Needs;
a] Engineers, technicians and supervisors that can "without playing around with MIG - flux cored weld controls" instantly provide weld settings and practices that produce cost effective, optimum, manual quality welds for any ferrous or none ferrous weld application.
b] Engineers, technicians and supervisors that can walk into a robot cell and instantly recognize the root cause of the robot down time or the weld issues, and immediately if required, optimize the welds using any MIG weld transfer mode.
c] Engineers, technicians and supervisors that can provide effective weld process control training programs so that all weld personnel or plants weld as one. .
d] Managers, engineers, technicians and supervisors that can look at a wire feed control and in less than 2 minutes tell you the weld cost of any weld.
e] Managers, engineers, technicians and supervisors that can separate weld product = consumables salesmanship from weld reality. It's especially important that weld decision makers are aware of the unnecessary costly bells and and whistles with MIG equipment.
f] Weld decision makers that feel comfortable with the common bread - butter processes such as MIG, flux cored, SAW, SMAW, GTAW.
Aluminum, Panasonic Robot Weld issues:
The company I visited was a large producer of 6xxx series, extruded aluminum, thin gage automotive parts. They had purchased a Panasonic, VR. OOGAL. 11 robot, with a Panasonic 350 amp Panastar RA 350 pulsed power source. For the welds they used an 0.046, 4043 wire and argon. The MIG wire spool was mounted on top of the robot, and they used a regular four-drive roll feeder with a standard water-cooled gun.
The problem robot welds were short lengths 5/8 to ¾ long. The robot welds are made on aluminum square tubes 0.070 thick. The 6xxx tubes are welded to a thicker alum part 3/16 thick. Since they purchased the robot the completed welds never look consistent over their short lengths yet all the thin tube welds were made with the same weld data, yet in the same locations on each part, welds look fluid while other welds look cold. Also most of the welds ended up with a black and dirty appearance yet the push gun angle set was correct. These welds caused so many issues the company was ready to give up the robot and go back to manual GTAW on the alum parts.
The reason the company purchased this robot, is the owner of the company took some sample alum parts to the AWS weld show. At the show a Panasonic rep impressed the owner by producing some manual weld samples". On these samples the welds were approx. four to six inches in length. In the 12 months since this company purchased the robot, they have never produced a part with welds that look as good as those weld show samples.
The Panasonic experts and the robot integrator personnel spent many weeks at this company, they did not resolve the weld issues or provide an analysis of the root cause.
THE FRUSTRATED CUSTOMER ASKED ME TO REVIEW THIS PANASONIC ALUMINUM APPLICATION.
After evaluating the equipment, the robot, the process and application, I quickly optimized the weld data and then found the primary problem to be with the Panasonic Panastar, RA 350, pulsed power source. It had a major poor response time with the robot commands.
A factor few power source manufacturers rarely give consideration to is response time. This is a critical element on robot welds in which the weld cycle times are less than 3 seconds.
TIME AND RESPONSE IMPORTANT ROBOT / POWER SOURCE ATTRIBUTES: It takes time for a robot interface to communicate to a MIG power source. The robot interface has to inform the power source of the required, weld start data, which then needs time to change to the weld data, which then needs time to provide the stabilize pulsed data, after which time is required for a diagnostic check and time to change to the weld end data.
In the years when Panasonic was struggling to make a decent pulsed MIG power source that could actually provide consistent pulsed welds, (see MIG equipment and pulsed sections), the response times of communication between the power source and robot may not have been a priority concern for the Panasonic equipment designers and this power source was a dead beat.
From the weld perspective, aluminum is unique in that time is also required with the weld for the MIG arc plasma to break the aluminum surface oxides and provide an oxide free area for the weld. Also because of the conductivity of aluminum it takes a specific amount of time for each weld (depending on the heat in the part) for the aluminum to become fluid so the weld can proceed.
The pulsed aluminum weld issues were generated simply because the short weld lengths (very short cycle times) and welding thin 0.070 to thicker 3/16 parts. The weld cycle time was lower than the time required for this Panasonic robot / interface power source to respond, and there was not sufficient weld energy generated in this thin to thick part to remove the aluminum surface oxides.
Note The longer weld lengths produced manually at the weld show simply did not address the short weld length / time issues.
This was one of those applications that was very frustrating for me as I quickly diagnosed the root cause of the problems, however the existing Panasonic weld equipment was simply not capable of meeting the weld requirements and without a change to this weld equipment, there was no weld instant resolutions.
 One could ask why did this customer buy a robot without first having test parts welded with the robot and power souce?.
 One could ask why did this customer evaluate a manual weld that had nothing in common with the robot welds?
 One could ask why did the Panasonic experts not immediately recognize that the issue was with their equipment and offer to change the power source to one that would meet the weld requirements?
I know the answer to this was they did not have one.
Alum Weld process note: When welding with a robot, if possible do not use a small spool of aluminum wire when you can use a large reel that provides a wider cast and less helix issues. This is really important on small weld sizes and small weld lengths. The Alco Tec de-reeler or similar product is the most practical method of feeding wire to a robot. Alco Tec is also a premium quality aluminum MIG weld wire. For many applications the dee-reeler, and >0.046 wire can be used without a push pull gun. Also you do not need to purchase a water cooled gun for any welds less than 25 mm in length
ROBOTS AND GM BUMPER WELD ISSUES:
GM WAS READY TO SHUT DOWN THIS TIER ONE PLANT DUE TO THE ROBOT WELD SPATTER ISSUES ON IT'S BUMPERS. WHILE AT THE PLANT, I COULD NOT FIND ANYONE IN THE FRONT OFFICE THAT APPEARED INTERESTED IN THE ROBOT WELD OWNERSHIP, WELD RESPONSIBILTY OR WELD ACCOUNTABITY?
When I got this call, AG Simpson a Canadian, Tier One supplier was making bumpers for GM trucks. I was asked by a confused AG management to resolve the robot MIG weld issues which were causing costly part rejection penalties from GM. The bottom line was GM was ready to shut the AG production down due to the bumper weld spatter problems around the mount holes.
When I got into the plant, before I could enter the robot cell area, I was asked by the plant manager to first have a chat with the union rep. It seems I had to get his blessing to work with the robots and robot personnel. I have to admit at this point I started to wonder who I should invoice for my consulting services, the plant union rep or the AG management. Thankfully the rep was a Scotsman so he had more sense than his management and he also understood the value of the robot workers in this plant getting more Weld Process Control Expertise.
I quickly resolved the robot bumper spatter weld problems. I then arranged to have a training program commence the next day which would ensure the robot weld issues would not be repeated on the GM parts. To ensure all three shifts received the robot MIG process control training, I provided the training over a four day period. Now keep in mind, the welding problem at this tier one supplier was a major concern for General Motors and I invited all the management - engineers - supervisors and programmers responsible to attend the training. It was no surprise to me that none of the plant's managers or engineers s attended the robot process control work shop, and yes I invited them several times.
The AG plants was another mfg. plant in which the plant management allowed the TAIL TO WAG THE DOG.
Two major management issues need addressing at the AG Simpson plant.
 Management needed to grow some balls and get back control of their weld shop.
 The management apathetic response to their major mfg. problem, indicated that they should give themselves a swift kick in their rear
This management - engineering weld process apathy is common in the auto - truck industry. Managers responsible need to send a strong message to their engineers about the importance of weld process controls - best practice expertise and about weld process responsibility and ownership with the equipment that daily generates their salaries.
MANAGEMENT DECISIONS ON ROBOT LAMP POSTS.
BOTH FANUC AND LINCOLN COULD NOT SHED ANY
LIGHT ON THIS ROBOT WELD APPLICATION:
One customer I assisted around 2005, manufactured carbon steel street lamps 11 to 7 gage. It should have been a simple manual weld application. On the end of the lamps they weld a flange that mounts the lamp to the ground. The flanges were heavy duty approx. 13 mm thick. They also weld around an access box, (gage material) located on the post surface near the flange.
This street lamp application became unnecessarily complex the day they decided the parts should now be welded with a robot. The company ordered a Fanuc ArcMate 100 robot. The robot came with the Lincoln Power Wave, 450-amp, pulsed MIG power source. The robot system was sold by AGA who had the technical support of Lincoln / Fanuc. Almost two years after the robot was installed the robot had never come close to its daily weld production quota.
When the robot was installed it was placed on the lamp production line, however numerous weld issues occurred and the management moved the robot to another part of the plant. The robot was moved to a location where the plant personnel could play around with the lamp weld settings.
The robot lamp weld issues generated daily were numerous and the plant management viewed the robot as a costly liability, not capable of meeting the simple MIG weld quality or production goals. In the 24-month playing around period, AGA, Fanuc and Lincoln personnel made numerous visits to the plant without any success.
I was requested to come to the plant to see if I could spread some "light on the subject".
EXCESSIVE ROBOTIC GUN TOUCH SENSING.
To locate the two primary welded parts, the robot used it's touch sense feature. The robot was programmed to use 28 touch points for one simple square flange and one rectangle part. The touch sensing took 50 seconds or approx. 20% of the 4 minutes 10 seconds of the robot cycle time. The amount of touch-sensing used was way beyond excessive and was an indication of the lack of expertise that had been used on this application.
THE WRONG WIRE.
Two years previously, when the first robot welds were made, someone recommended the pulsed MIG process, using an 0.045 (1.2mm) wire and the so called optimum pulsed settings recommended by Lincoln, the resulting pulsed Power Wave welds were too hot for the application. Someone then on the Lincoln / Fanuc or AGA team, for some strange crazy reason recommended they change to an 045, (1.2mm) E71T-1, All Position, Gas Shielded, flux cored wire.
The following daily weld issues were occurring with the robot flux cored welds. Keep in mind the weld and production issues had nothing to do with the weld process used.
[a] Inconsistent weld results, requiring constant robot down time for program changes.
[b] excessive weld burn through every shift,
[c] lack of weld fusion on the majority of parts,
[d] excessive undercut,
[e] slag entrapment.
MY WELD CHANGES COMMENCE AND THE SAVINGS BEGIN.Variable weld gaps were an issue which were partially addressed by the robot touch sensing. The gaps were generated by the assemblers of the lamps. When these guys tacked the parts they did not evenly distribute the gaps. So I took on the role of the plants supervisor and provided instructions and gages to the assemblers that the gaps presented to the robot had to be a max. of 0.060 (1.6mm), which I considered acceptable for the robot welds.
The next thing I checked was the reliability of the Fanuc robot touch sensing equipment. It worked fine. We reprogrammed the robot to touch the parts only six times instead of the 28 times used previously. I tested the repeatability, it was OK. The touch time cycle per part was reduced from 50 seconds to 10 seconds.
REPLACE THE WELD WIRE TYPE AND SIZE:THEY SELECTED THE WRONG PROCESS. Recommending a deep penetrating 0.045 all position flux cored wire for the pulsed MIG power source made little sense, Have you ever tried this flux core wire to weld an open root. Fanuc had no clue about this poor wire selection and , Lincoln and AGA should have known better. Also some of the flux-cored welds were made in the vertical down position and this wire was not designed for this as slag entrapment occurs. For the flux cored wire to function on the thin gage post, low weld setting had to be used. The low flux cored welding parameters, and vertical down weld positions ensured not only slag entrapment but lack of fusion for the thicker flange side of the weld.
Any one who has read my Robotic MIG Welding books would be aware of the fundamental fact that with traditional MIG, the most superior wire size for parts less than 3/16 (4.8 mm) is an 0.035 or 0.040 wire. Especially when the parts have weld gaps. I replaced the 0.045 (1.2mm) flux cored wire with an 0.035 (1mm) MIG E70S-3 wire and I had an argon 10% CO2 mix put in the cell. I welded the parts first using a combination of short circuit and spray transfer. I then set the Power Wave to produce pulse welds on the parts. All the welds produced were optimum from a quality and deposition rate perspective. Proponents of the costly pulsed process note. The differences between the pulsed and traditional short circuit and spray mode welds were simply not measurable.
In contrast to the 0.045 wires, the 0.035 MIG wire provided many weld benefits due to it's weld current range compatibility with the application. This part never required the pulsed transfer mode, however as the company had spent thousands more than it needed to with the purchase of the PowerWave, I left the settings in the pulsed mode.
MADE SIMPLE ROBOT MOVES AND OPTIMUM ROBOT MIG GUN POSITIONS.
For the robot to weld all the way around the square end flange weld joint, which by the way was in a fixed position. The robot made two welds, one each side, each move wrapping halfway around the square joint. The robot moves were complex, stretching all 6 axis of the robot to it's limits. In stretching the robot's reach limits, many of the welds did not have the weld gun positioned for optimum weld control. From a programmer perspective, when robot program points become complex, they eventually will require correction. In these circumstances the robot operator may find it difficult to duplicate the initial program moves. I had the flange weld reprogrammed and produced four simple straight welds that could use optimum robot movement and optimum gun angles.
AFTER 3 DAYS AT THE PLANT, MY WORK PAYS OFF.
With the new robot program in place, the 0.035 MIG wire and the new weld procedures, I reduced the lamp total cycle time by 50%. We welded 20 lamps and did not have an issue with a single weld. The bottom line, the customer now had a stable process and could now produce in two shifts what they were going to produce in three shifts.
I charged them approx. $3000 For the elimination of their robot weld problems. I eliminated the weld rework, and as mentioned provided a 50% increase in production. However I don't recall getting a Hall Mark Thank You card from Lincoln, AGA or Fanuc. Some people simply have no manners.
CONCLUSION" With engineering functions if you don't know the best way to do something you should ask someone who does, or you should simply keep your mouth shut. There are many things this plant's management could have done to endure all the issues were resolved before these robots even came into the plant, they did not do this and therefore they are as much at fault as Fanuc, Lincoln and AGA were.
HOW MANY MANAGERS GET THIS?
PEOPLE EXPERTISE & PEOPLE CONTROL ARE THE MOST
CRITICAL PARTS OF ROBOT WELD OPTIMIZATION.
It's ironic in the auto - truck industry, that when they do manage to hire that rare robot programmer who at least has a small amount of MIG weld process control expertise, the management that typically will not understand this subject will rarely allow the guy with the expertise to manage the operators that daily run the robot cells.
Most auto - truck companies will not think twice about letting maintenance personnel make changes to the so called pre-qualified robot MIG welds, yet in the hundreds of plants that i visited, I never met a maintenance person who understood the required MIG process controls and best weld practices:
You may be familiar with this scenario. The robots have many shut downs during each shift, ( 30 to 45 min/shift is the norm). The plant robot shut downs are controlled quite often by a maintenance person that will play around with the weld settings. The bottom line is each shift there are guys that are typically making unqualified weld process changes and the person making the weld changes is reporting each shift to a maintenance supervisor, another individual that knows nothing about MIG weld process controls - best practice.
IS THERE A REASON WHY THE SUPERVISORS IN YOUR ORGANIZATION CANNOT GET A LITTLE WELD PROCESS CONTROL - BEST PRACTICE EDUCATION?
Lets face it, the prime responsibility of most supervisors and lead hands in the manufacturing plants that use robots, is to meet the "shift production demands" and get the just in time delivered parts out of the lean mfg. doors.
An important step for management, and supervisors is to recognize the weld process control expertise that the company requires, and It takes typically less than 20 hours to learn that expertise with this program.
A WELL RUN WELD SHOP WILL
HAVE LEARNT FROM PAST EXPERIENCES.
WHEN THIS CORPORATE MANAGEMENT FAILED TO RECOGNIZE THE TECHNICAL EXPERTISE REQUIRED FOR IT'S EMPLOYEES, ONE OF THE WORLDS LARGEST USERS OF MIG WELDING ROBOTS FAILED .
In the 1990s, there was a USA based auto - truck frame mfg. called A.O.Smith. A.O. was a Wisconsin based company which started to make frames for Cadilac vehicles in 1904.
By the mid 1990's, A.O.SMITH was the world's largest auto - truck frame mfgs, and at that time they were using more than 1200, ABB, MIG weld robots.
In contrast to Japanese MIG welding robots with their too often useless bells and whistles, the A.O. robot cells had mostly traditional, Miller Delta, 450. CV. MIG power sources ABB Swedish built robots, and for consumables they utilized 0.045 (1.2 mm) MIG wires with a two part argon - CO2 gas mix.
THE FRAMES WERE MIG WELDED WITH THE CONVENTIONAL MIG SPRAY MODE AND THE HOURLY WELD DEPOSITION RATE AVERAGE WAS 12 LB/HR.
In the early 1990s, while in my position as North American Weld Mgr for ABB robots, I believe I was the only person in the world at that time that was providing Robot MIG Weld Process Control - Best Weld Practice Training. And as far as i know, A.O.SMITH was the only global company that had implemented Robot Best Weld Practices.
TWENTY PLUS YEARS, IN 1995, THE A.O. SMITH DAILY ROBOT WELD REWORK WAS BY TODAY'S AUTO - TRUCK STANDARDS, MINISCULE, AND THEIR AVERAGE ROBOT MIG WELD PRODUCTION WAS SUPERIOR THAN THAT ATTAINED BY ANY GLOBAL AUTO - TRUCK PLANT IN 2015.
A O Smith weld management worked on the simple philosophy that you get the best robot weld results from utilizing good weld engineers, the best robots and highly trained, well paid robot technicians . A.O had selected ABB robots with its Swedish logic, and they also selected the world's best MIG power source which was and still is the Miller Delta Weld. This MIG equipment has the best possible slope out put, it was extremely durable and did not encompass a single useless bell or whistle.
It's a fact, that the 1990s, A O Smith engineers and technicians were likely the highest paid in the auto - truck industry, and likely better paid then most in the same business today in 2015. However with the high production attained and with the minimum weld rework required, the bottom line, the robot technicians and engineers salary was not really relevant to the company profits achieved.
This company as mentioned was unique . It employed weld decision makers that actually owned and took full responsibility for their robots and primary weld processes. This was a company that employed key weld personnel and these guys did not need advice from a weld salesman. Continue this story below..
2015. I DON'T BELIEVE THERE IS AN AUTO - TRUCK COMPANY ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, THAT HAS EVER COME CLOSE TO ATTAINING THE SAME DAILY ROBOT MIG WELD QUALITY - PRODUCTIVITY, THAT WAS ACHIEVED BY A.O.SMITH 25 YRS AGO.
IN THE MID 1990s, TOO IMPROVE THEIR LEVEL OF WELD PROCESS CONTROL - BEST PRACTICE EXPERTISE, I WAS REQUESTED BY A. O. SMITH MANAGEMENT, TO PROVIDE MY MIG ROBOT WELD PROCESS CONTROL TRAINING PROGRAM FOR THE COMPANIES ROBOT TECHNICIANS.
A few years after I provided the training, I thonk it was around 1997, the A.O.SMITH company was purchased by Tower Automotive. At that time, I had been in many Tower plants assisting them with their robot weld issues. I knew from these visits, that the Tower corporate management and the majority of their senior plant management and engineers had never comprehended or appreciated the technical and process expertise required to run the robots and attain optimum, consistent robot weld quality and productivity.
NOTE: FROM THE MID 1990s TO THE PRESENT, THROUGH NO FAULT OF THE WORKERS, I WATCHED AS MANY USA PLANTS MOVED SOUTH TO MEXICO OR EAST TO CHINA. I WATCHED THE WORKERS PAY - BENEFITS SLOWLY RECEDE AND WATCHED THE SLOW DISSAPEARANCE OF AMERICAS MIDDLE CLASS
For me, it was was sad in this USA shrinking mfg environment, to watch a poorly managed company like Tower, with its "hands off," we do not own, we are not responsible managers - engineers, add to the employment misery.
HOW DID TOWER CONTRIBUTE TO THE USA EMPLOYMENT WOES?
TOWER TOOK THE VERY WELL MANAGED 90 YEAR OLD, A.O.SMITH COMPANY, AND IN LESS THAN A DECADE THE TOWER MANAGEMENT WHO WERE INCAPABLE OF DOING WHAT A. O. SMITH HAD DELIVERED, ENDED UP IN THAT GREAT CLOUD IN THE SKY THEY CALL CHAPTER 11.
When you think of Texas, whats your image?
In that forever sinking manufacturing American quagmire that today they call Detroit, there has for decades been a strange relationship between Cars - Truck - Robots & Deer.
In contrast to the excellant robot frame results at A.O Smith, many years later at the Ford Frame plant in Detroit, you would have found the real world, required robot MIG weld rework on the truck frames would daily be in the 70 to 100% range. And if the manual welders at the Ford plant were not hunting on the weekends, the management response was to the poor weld quality was to invite their workers to come in on the weekend and provide always very poor, always unqualified, Stick or MIG weld repairs on top of those bad or missing robot welds.
ANYONE WITH A GRADE NINE EDUCATION WOULD KNOW THAT WELD CRAP ON TOP OF WELD CRAP WOULD RESULT IN OVER HEATED PARTS THAT UNFORTUNATELY ARE FULL OF WELD CRAP.
Another sad reality fact that would exite the legal proffesion. The majority of the robot frames that were considered to have acceptable welds, would not be accepted outside this plant by any engineer that undesrtood the fundamental simple requirements of a weld.
MOST OF THE ISO APPROVED, BLACK BELT. FRAME MANAGERS AND ENGINEERS THAT I MET AT THE FORD PLANTS HAD SHOWN THAT THEY HAD MINIMAL WELD PROCESS CONTROL EXPERTISE, AND THEY HAD LITTLE INTEREST IN THE PROCESS THAT WAS USED ON THEIR CARS AND TRUCKS.
NOTE: You may wonder what it takes, apart fron the annual billions of dollars lost to auto - truck recalls, and to the occasional hundred million dollar liability law suites, to shake up the senior management and engineers in the Auto - Truck industry.
Cars and trucks are too often like a fancy box of chocolates, once the fancy wrapping is removed there is often disappointment with the chocolate
IF THE PURCHASER OF ANY VEHICAL COULD TAKE A LOOK AT THE QUALITY OF THE PARTS THAT THEY DON'T SEE ON THAT VEHICAL, AND EXAMINE THE DAILY MFG. PRACTICES AND LACK OF CONTROLS, IT'S LIKELY THAT LIKE THE AMISH, THEY WOULD STICK TO A HORSE AND BUGGY.
Ed: I have been the VP of the HR department now for 20 years. When I think back, the weld department and it's personnel have always been the area in which we have had most manufacturing and the most people issues. I know in the last 10 years we have likely gone through 4 people who have supervised the weld department.
A Question from the HR dept:
My question is why is this area of industry the cause of so many mfg. issues?
In reality all your weld - and weld related manufacturing issues have worked their way down from the plant managers and engineering manager's office.
At too many companies, inexperienced management has never correctly identified the root cause of their common daily manual or robot weld issues. These managers are simply not aware of the "process expertise" (not skills) requirements necessary for individuals to run a highly efficient weld shop or robot cell. In this enviroment the captain blames the crew, and the ship never gets to be as efficient as it could be.
From my perspective in 2014, a "qualified weld or manufacturing manager" is maybe as rare as a bird on the edge of distinction and I would speculate today, that no more than two in twenty individuals who claim they have the necessary management MIG weld expertise to optimize robot or manual weld production, have the real capability.
My advice to any manufacturing company who relies on manual or weld automation, is have these individuals spend 15 - 20 hrs with these important process control resources.
Also when a company has employed a good weld "hands on" mgr, supervisor or technician, look carefully at their compensation. How logical is it when you find a "Mr. Right weld person, that this individual should be paid less or no more than some of the ineffective, engineers you already employ, engineers who typically spend too much time in front of the computors in their air conditioned office, engineers that are unable to resolve manufacturing process issues?
If a company employs a technician with extensive expertise in both robotics and welding, any management recruiting company would tell you that this individual will be much harder to replace than an engineer or your corporate bean counter accountant. In companies that utilize many robots, when the robot weld quality and productivity is optimized the costs benefits should be substantial, therefore the remuneration for these services should be easy to justify.
If you are one of the unique, few individuals experienced in both weld process controls and robot programming and you are looking for a job, remember with the dramatic growth of robots in the weld industry, the manufacturing industry will for a long time need you much more than you need them. Even tho most companies that try to hire you, don't understand the process expertise required for optimum robot weld quality - productivity, don't sell yourself short.
If at the facility where you work, you find the management and supervision are ignorant to the responsibilities of optimizing weld productivity and quality, then make it your responsibility to first try to educate them with cost saving facts. Print out appropriate parts of this site and place them, (without finger prints) in the managers mail box. If the manager is a logical and honest individual, they will get the message. If the management is unresponsive to you, then visit some of the top career web sites. Use the keyword "welding" and go and find a company who understands and appreciates your talents.
If you are a manger that wants process control expertise in your organization,
The following Add shows why many plant managers and
HR personnel are out of touch with weld reality.
An advert such as the following could be found in a career web site. This tongue in cheek spoof, is simply another an indication of the global robot management expertise.
2008: Wanted engineer or experienced technician to work for a Fortune 500 company that has annual product sales of over 1 billion dollars.
Major global automotive company requires a multi-talented person to manage and resolve their weld, paint and press shop "production - quality issues". This person will have responsibility to;
 Optimize the robot weld quality and production at four USA plants that have over 600 robots. (Must understand Panasonic - ABB robot software).
 Provide expertise and guideance for our Laser, Plasma and Resistance equipment.
 Trouble shoot and ensure the metal forming, press & paint processes are optimized.
 Be responsible for capital expenditure equipment / training budget of approx, five million dollars.
 Provide training programs for 500 personnel.
This high exposure position requires a high energy person that will work 60 - 80 hrs hour a week, (overtime not paid).
Working Conditions: We are sorry that we will only be paying the same as we did twenty years ago, $55K - $65K. Relocation is not provided because we don't think you are that important. We will fund your continuing education because we know you will never have time to attend educational courses. We appreciate the fact that you will be here working on the weekends when we are home with our familiies. Promotional prospects are not likely, because there is no one else around here with a white shirt and a tie that could replace you.
While I exaggerated the above add just a little, this add is typical and it reveals the common management, weld process / manufacturing expertise naivety and ignorance from those that should be better informed.
I believe one lesson that the Big 3 companies learnt decades ago was how specialized the expertise and skills are for automated process optimization in metal forming, joining and painting. And I am sure that is one of the prime reasons the Big 3 executives pulled the plug on those applications and out sourced the applications to part suppliers.
The majority of auto and truck welded part supply companies have daily lived with numerous quality and productivity issues that occured with their stamping, fabricating, painting and weld processes. The tier one companies would also out source their parts to others that would have similar problems, or they would hire large engineering companies / consultants such as ABB to take over the processes in their plants. With this in mind, it's ironic that today you can visit the web and see numerous want adds (as above) in which a manufacturing company wants to hire a "Multi-Talented Eengineer with expertise in welding, robots, painting and the press shop.
The naive manufacturing company that looks for the "multi-talented process individual", will often end up with an engineer or technician that will has limited expertise in one process, and his experiences with the other processes was attained as he walked by them on his way to his office.
The reality that many mfg. managers and HR department VPs need to face, is each of the processes mentioned is unique, and each can take decades to master.
Again we see how the mfg, and HR management ignorance and perception can have a great influence on why their plants do not get the skills, expertise or training thats necessary for their process optimization. It's also sad, that few of the people who make weld decisions will visit this site, or review my weld process control resources.
WHEN I ASSISTED MONROE, IT WAS A COMPANY THAT MADE GREAT DURABLE PRODUCTS, UNFORTUNATELY AT THAT TIME THEY LACKED MANAGERS AND ENGINEERS WITH ROBOT MIG WELD PROCESS CONTROL EXPERTISE. ALSO THEY HAD TO DEAL WITH A CHRYSLER WELD SPEC THAT COULD HAVE BEEN WRITTEN IN DISNEYLAND:
Monroe is a USA tier one manufacturer of car - truck shocks. Monroe engineers could not get the robot welded shock brackets to qualify for a Chrysler "weld bracket load test" and they contacted me to get to the root cause of the robot weld issues.
The Chrysler load test weld specification required that the robot MIG bracket welds on the shocks absorb a minimum 13,000 lb test load. After welding with their robots and using the spray transfer mode, the Monroe bracket welds on the 2 to 3mm gage steel shocks, would typically fail in the 7000 to 9000 lb load range.
On evaluating the Monroe shock robot welds, I then took two days with the manual MIG process making the same welds and doing macros and load tests with the parts. My manual weld test results revealed that any test load of less than 19,000 lbs was an indication of lack of weld fusion in the shock bracket welds. Remember the Chrysler weld spec for the parts required a minimum test load of only 13,000 pounds on the shock bracket welds.
The reasons that the Monroe engineers could not meet the Chrysler test load requirements were;
[1 The robot MIG spray weld deposition was too high for the small welds. This resulted in robot "weld speeds that were simply too high" for the small brkt welds that were made on the round, cold rolled steel parts. When weld speeds are too fast, there will be insufficient time for the required side wall weld fusion. By the way this is a common issue on with small MIG welds on round parts in which the the weld fusion profile is always changing. Dealing with robot welds such as this is found in my Robot Process Control Training Resource.
 The required shock bracket "weld lengths" were also "too small in LENGTH". Small weld lengths < 25 mm, typically have three sets of robot MIG data, weld start - weld - weld end. With this situation the welds are typically erratic and inconsistent and lack of weld fusion is common.
After I identified the prime robot weld issues, I made the following robot weld changes;
[a] I lowered the spray Wire Feed speed which allowed a slightly slower weld speed.
[b] I changed the gun angles, (less fore hand) and more focus on the tube.
[c] I reduced the wire stick out which increased the weld energy.
[d] I slightly increased the weld lengths to their max length which meant 3 to 4 more mm of weld.
With my changes the robot Monroe shock bracket welds on average then failed the load test at an average load of 21,000 lbs. By the way, the slight decrease in the robot weld speed did not impact the weld production, as I compensated with an increase in the robot speeds between the welds.
Note: Over the years. I have found that robot MIG weld specs produced by Toyota - Honda - GM - Chrysler and Ford had more to do with FICTION than with weld reality.
Question from that, "welding we have not got a clue", HR dept.
Ed we have had robots for a few years, I don't think my department or my manufacturing managers are aware of all the issues you bring up at this site.
Ed's Answer: Ignorance of the resolutions for shop floor weld issues, are the reasons why so many managers spend a great portion of their time fighting fires without ever putting out those fires and ending up bald with ulcers.
Of course weld process control - best practice shop floor awareness will depend on your management and engineers expertise. It depends on the weld decision makers ability to see through the weld smoke and sparks. It depends on their ability to comprehend weld shop issues and be aware of their real robot weld equipment performance potential. Unfortunately at this time too many managers are happy just to see the robots running, and after these mangers arrive home in the evening, they are so exhausted fighting the weld shop fires that few will vist a web site like this and take a verbal beating. The solution to your problem is weld process control - best practice education / training, and this is found here.
My preference for robots based on performance and value
would be Daihen OTC and ABB.
My preference for pulsed MIG equipment is for Daihen OTC.
Robot MIG Weld Reality
PRODUCTION & QUALITY GOALS:
ROBOT MIG WELD REJECTS - REWORK:
In high volume applications, a company does not have robot weld issues If the robot weld reject / rework rate is no more than two parts per- shift. This was attained with every robot cell that I made improvements in, and with this robot weld process control training program, this could easily be every companies weld reject / rework goal.
ROBOT MIG WELD PRODUCTION POTENTIAL:
Anyone can set a MIG welding robot to run at 40 to 75% of it's weld production efficiency capability. Few programmers have optimized the robot so that it consistently achieves optimum weld quality with weld productivity that's at least 97% of the robots weld efficiency potential. The programmer needs MIG weld process control expertise to recognize weld production potential
The weld reality is that less than 10% of the global robots opperate at their peak weld quality - productivity performance, and thats good news for those managers and engineers looking to reduce their weld costs. The solution is in my Seven Steps to Robot Weld Process Controls.
Who is qualified to Run the MIG welding Robots?
Question from another frustrated HR manager.
Ed, at our company we normally take production welders and let them run the robots. Is it necessary to use welders as robot operators, and what is the criteria for a good robot operator?
Why would you use the skills of a manual welder. when the robot provides the weld skills. When hiring a MIG welding robot operator, it's more logical to get a worker that is drug free and looks like they will have good work ethic. You want a person who will stay at the robot station, a team player with a good work attitude. You want a person who will follow posted process control instructions, a person who will take pride in maintaining their work area, and take pride in achieving the required weld quality and production each shift.
The operator should be given basic MIG process training that enables them to recognize what a change in an arc sound means. You can do this with manual MIG equipment. They should also receive training on how to inspect a weld, and understand what an acceptable and rejectable weld looks like.
In contrast, that robot programmer should be an individual that likes working with computers, CNC or electronic controls. An individual who has an interest in welding. Provide my robot MIG weld process training program which they can use as a self teaching resource. As for programming the "robot companies training program" will provide that.
Why are there so many weld issues in auto/ truck plants?
Question from an HR manger that likes to get to the root cause of their issues:
Ed. why are so many robot weld issues found in plants that produce auto / truck parts?
Eds Reply. First we have to keep in mind that many of the managers in this industry are more driven and focussed on daily production quota's rather than product quality conformance. The MIG and flux cored weld process issues discussed here are also prevalent throughout the weld industry, even in plants that work with stringent code specifications. However automotive plants also deal with more robots than most other industries and work with high volume applications on stamped parts that change with the wear and the quality of the dies used to make them. Also it's a sad fact, that for decades in contrast to other metal manufacturing industries, when it comes to welding the auto - truck industry management has been notorious for not hiring experienced, qualified weld personnel, (it's difficult to hire an expertise when you are not aware of the expertise required).
It's common in the plants to find the auto mfg managers tied up with controlling just in time inventory, ISO requirement and spread sheet issues and spending much time in team meetings that simply go round in circles. It's a sad weld reality that few managers get involved with weld issues will get to the root cause and provide the correct resolutions.
Poor MIG Weld quality, boy that an old problem.
If before you purchased a truck or car, and you asked to inspect the welds on the underside of the vehical, you likely would not want to purchase that vehicle.
THE PANASONIC ROBOT WELD FIASCO:
There is always a price to pay for management - engineering incompetence.
For at least six weeks, the frustrated, experienced PANASONIC ROBOT WELD TEAM COULD NOT GET THEIR ROBOTS TO PRODUCE TWO SIMPLE EXHAUST WELDS.
For me it was another one of those annoying Japanese, Panasonic robot applications. Thanks to the Panasonic engineers who did not have a clue about MIG welds, we had another simple weld application that was now made unnecessarily complex.
After six weeks of the usual "playing around," the Panasonic team and robot integrator could not get their new robot to consistently place two small welds that were approx. 15 mm in length. The welds were made on a carbon steel rod that was welded to a thin gage galvanealed exhaust hanger bracket. As with many auto - truck parts, the exhaust bracket was "poorly designed" by the engineers at Honda.
Still producing erratic welds, the Panasonic robot personnel had given up on the robot weld project and left the plant. The Honda part supplier had five days left before the robot weld production was supposed begin on the part, and as usual that's typically when I get the call.
The exhaust hanger bracket was designed by engineers at Honda. I am sure the Honda engineers who designed the part had no idea how their MIG weld process ignorance contributed to many of of the robot weld issues generated.
The round carbon steel rod was 5/16 diameter, and the thin gage galvanealed bracket that the rod was welded to was very thin, 0.047. Think about it the lack of fusion concerns for the 5/16 rod and then the weld burn through concerns for the thin part 0.047.
As I must have mentioned at least a 1000 times, poor weld design is common in the auto / truck industry and I have yet to meet a designer in this industry who had bothered to learn the MIG weld process requirements, issues and limitations.
With this rod to brkt weld, after six weeks of the usual "playing around" with the weld and robot settings, both the Panasonic team and the robot integrator produced the following;
 inconsistent, irregular weld profiles,
 welds with excess porosity,
 welds with excess burn through
 welds with excess lack of weld fusion.
After the plant wasted thousands of dollars on the loss of productivity and the weld rework, the Panasonic people gave up and left the plant. The exhaust company was very concerned as they had five days left before the full production had to begin and thats when the very frustrated plant manager gave me a call.
When I arrived at the plant I spent few hours reviewing the robot welds. I made the following observations.
The welds produced by the Panasonic personnel were "too small", and the short circuit, "fast freeze" undersize welds were one of the cause of the excess weld porosity and also weld irregularity.
ACTION: I increased the weld size, this change resulted in more forgiving welds that had less opportunity for weld porosity, however I noted that the Panasonic robot welds that were useing a Panasonic MIG power source was still producing welds that were erratic and inconsistent from one part to the next
 Weld burnthrouh on the 0.046 brkt. part was common even tho the short circuit mode was in use.
ACTION. I avoided the burn through by actually increasing and redirecting the weld heat. I used the higher energy spray mode which required higher wire feed rates enabling faster weld speeds which reduced burn through potential. With this poorly designed Panasonic power source the spray mode was also more stable.
 As with many Panasonic robot / power source weld applications, the erratic welds would be readily noted in the resulting weld arc sounds which are always a good indicaction of the MIG equipment performance capabilty.The Panasonic power source provided two outputs, one developed for use with straight CO2, and the other for use with argon mixes.
With short weld lengths that have an arc on time of less than 5 seconds, it's important that the weld equipment used has the capability of providing "consistent out put" for the three sets of robot weld data provided,
 The robot weld start data,
 The robot weld data.
 The weld end data.
However with all the bells and whistles in this Panasonic power source, the power source could not provide this basic function with weld parameters utilized.
ACTION: I changed the weld transfer mode and the settings on the equipment, and was able to find settings that although were not recommended by Panasonic proved to provide a more consistent weld transfer. It was not a 100%, however the new data improved the consistency and stability of the weld transfer for the small weld lengths.
 The fixture designed by the integrator did not allow for ideal positioning (gun angles) of the MIG gun for the welds.
ACTION: As the Panasonic integrator had given up on his responsibility to this customer, I made fixture cahnge recommendations and the fixture was altered by the customer's maintenance department. The improved gun angles improved the fusion into the rod and reduced the burn through in the thin brkt.
 The Panasonic MIG gun contact tip (made in Japan) bore was on the minus size, while the USA made MIG wire diameter was on the plus size but still within spec. Occasionally the MIG wire was restricted by the gun contact tip bore which caused poor arc starts and added to the robot down time.
ACTION: I relieved this situation by drilling and increasing the tip bore diameter on the Panasonic tips. I thought it was ridiculous to use the Panasonic MIG guns and contact tips in a North American plant so I recommended my client change to a USA mfg. Tregaskis gun.
 Small welds require a higher degree of weld accuracy and that accuracy was not being achieved with the Panasonic robot. This resulted in lack of fusion into the rod and caused weld rejects and rework. The robot did not use touch sensing or arc tracking and there was no automated TCP control for the robot.
ACTION: I implemented a practice in which the robot TCP was checked twice a shift, and trained the programmer on with the best practices that would maintain the weld position consistency.
My changes took about approx. 20 hours to complete. After the changes were made and the weld process data was recorded, the company recognized that the daily success of this operation required no deviation from my recommendations. To ensure consistent acceptable weld results, I implemented my Seven Step robot process control training program. Finally the robot attained daily acceptable weld quality and productivity. I charged the company for a weeks work, about $5000, and I am still waiting for Panasonic, Honda and Integrator to send me a thank you card.
There were many that were responsible (but took no ownership) of the above, costly, Panasonic robot weld fiasco.
 The Honda engineers that did not think about the welds on their designed the parts.
 The Panasonic engineers who designed the Panasonic robots and married the robots to poor weld equipment.
The Panasonic weld equip mfg. engineers who designed their erratic, poor performing weld equipment.
 The management and engineers at the robot Integrator who could not provide a product to meet the weld task.
 The management and engineers who purchased the poor performing robot / power source, without the necessary plant expertise, and without first ensuring that the robot cell was capable of meeting their weld quality & production needs.
JUST A BABY BOOMER POINT OF VIEW: In 2015, I believe that many of the engineers and managers throughout the auto & truck industry, have a common denominator. Those that were born after 1970 are often part of a generation, which I call the the No Depth (ND) Generation.
This ND generation frequently likes to skim the surface of the subjects they deal with. For example if they were asked to study the history of Rome, the ND generation would spend about two hours on the subject. It's a sad fact that too many that work in engineering will typically lack the depth required for controlling their processes, and implementing best practices. The ND engineers typically will do a good job in avoiding "Hands On" work and will look for a quick, often sales influenced resolution from Google.
When it comes to welding, the ND engineers and managers typically lack depth with the weld processes, weld transfer modes, consumables and equipment that are providing their weekly pay checks. I am hopeful that as the next generation comes along, that when it comes to the weld profession, those responsible will strive to be different, and in contrast to their predecessors will have no wish to play around with weld controls or get their weld advice from weld sales people. I hope the next generation will strive to have the ability to make a weld mfg.. decisions without a team or without a two hour waste of time meeting. And when it comes to managing the robot weld cells, the next generation will understand the importance and the expertise for the implementation of Robot Weld Process Controls and Best Weld Practices.
From my simple life perspective, in manufacturing;
[a] If you design it, you own it.
[b] If you build it, you manage it and are accountable for it.
[c] If you work with it, you are a professional that can both control and optimize it.
FIVE INEXPERIENCED HEADS IS NEVER AS GOOD AS ONE EXPERIENCED HEAD: As for that "TEAM approach. If those that are paid a salary, did what they are paid to do, and learnt what they are supposed to learn, then a company would not require a team to figure out how to optimize their weld equipment and processes. However in 2015, in the too common, poorly run plants in which managers daily allow many variables to impact their robot weld quality and production, it would be beneficial for this ineffective management to use the team approach for the root cause and resolutions.
When salesmanship has extensive influence on a technical
industry, that industry can expect to pay a high price.
IT'S HELPFUL WHEN WELD DECISION MAKERS UNDERSTAND THE WELD PROCESS CONTROLS - BEST WELD PRACTICE EXPERTISE REQUIRED BY THOSE IN THE WELD SHOP.
TO GET TO THE ROOT CAUSE OF THE WELD ISSUES THAT NEVER SEEM TO GO AWAY, MANAGEMENT HAS TO FIRST UNDERSTAND THE WELD PROCESS CONTROL - BEST PRACTICE EXPERTISE THAT IS NECESSARY FOR THE EMPLOYEES THAT CONTROL THE WELDS.
LACK OF MIG WELD PROCESS CONTROL EXPERTISE STARTED WITH THE GLOBAL WELD EQUIPMENT MANUFACTURERS:
For more than forty years, the primary global MIG weld equipment manufactures have been and still are, MIG weld process control - best practices impotent.
Why do I make a strong statement like this about global MIG equipment manufactures such as Miller, ESAB, Hobart and Lincoln? The answer is found in most weld shops, where you are bound to find some weld personnel playing around with their MIG controls.
Much of the regular CV MIG equipment sold in 2014 has hardly changed from the MIG power sources sold in 1960. And in 1960 while it was logical that MIG weld personnel would play around with the new process weld controls, its completely illogical that in 50 years later, over 90% of manual MIG weld personnel are still "playing around" with the two control CV MIG weld process.
So while I place blame on the universities and community colleges for not providing appropriate MIG process control education and training, most of the blame for the MIG process ignorance should lie with the MIG equipment manufactures.
The weld reality is all the companies that for decades have designed and manufactured MIG equipment have dramatically failed in terms of educating their customers so they can attain optimum results from the equipment and processes used.
OVER THIRTY YEARS AGO, IN THE NINETEEN EIGHTIES I MADE LAMINANTED STICK ON LABELS THAT YOU COULD PLACE ON A WIRE FEED OR CV POWER SOURCE. THE LABELS SHOWED WELDERS WHERE TO SET THEIR MIG OR FLUX CORED WIRE FEED - VOLTAGE SETTINGS FOR OPTIMUM WELD RESULTS.
I ALSO ENSURED THAT THE MIG GAS CYLINDERS SOLD BY THE THE COMPANIES I WORKED FOR (AIRGAS - AGA - CARBONIC) WERE EASY TO IDENTIFY. I GAVE THE GAS MIXES NAMES LIKE STEELMIX, STAINMIX OR ALUMMIX. I ALSO HAD THE SAME MIG CONTROL LABELS THAT WE PUT ON THE MIG EQUIP STUCK ON THE CYLINDERS,
TAKE A LOOK AT THE MIG CYLINDERS AND MIG EQUIPMENT IN YOUR SHOP. ITS USUALLY DIFFICULT TO KNOW WHAT'S IN THE GAS MIX AND WHAT WELDS SHOULD THE MIX BE USED ON.
ALSO TAKE A LOOK AT YOUR MIG EQUIPMENT, APART FROM THE USUAL PEN OR SCRATCH MARKS THAT WERE PLACED THERE BY WELDERS WHO PLAYING AROUND WITH THE MIG CONTROLS, WHAT ELSE DO YOU SEE..
SLOW FLUX CORED EVOLUTION: For thirty plus 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, small diameter, gas shielded flux cored electrodes. The reason for the slow FCAW evolution was the weld sales personnel who demonstrated the product. rarely understood and set the optimum flux cored weld parameters. The gas shielded flux cored wires went through a ridiculous slow growth that took decades when it should have taken a year. And the sad reality is in 2014, the FCAW wires and their welds are rarely optimized, and the process is still poorly understood.
Consider my FCAW process control - best practice training resource.
MIG WELDING GAS MIXES: For more thirty years the major industrial gas manufacturers have been promoting useless, overpriced three parts gas mixes for carbon and low alloy steel welds. As sales reps continue to play the MIG gas con game, weld shops keep buying them.
To add to the global MIG gas mix confusion, we now have close to 40, two component MIG gas mixes available in North America. The weld reality for both steel and stainless MIG welds is that if the correct weld transfer mode is utilized with the correct size wire and parameters, then not one single weld benefit is attained from any three part gas mix and just so you know how screwed this subject is, be aware that to increase those already high gas mix profits, the industrial gas mfgs. will ensure that a four part gas mix will be heading to your shop soon.
For those interested, I was on the AWS committee that wrote the USA MIG gas mix specs, and what a joke that was. Years of committee meetings in which i would often get into heated discussions about trying to keep the sales influence out of a so called technical document. For more MIG gas info, visit my MIG gas section to find out why there are only three, two component rt gas mixes required for all steels and alloy steel welds.
USELESS PULSED MIG EQUIPMENT BELLS AND WHISTLES:
For almost thirty years, the major weld equipment manufacturers have promoted costly, electronic pulsed MIG equipment for carbon steel welds. For at least 25 yrs, it's was part of my job to evalute this equipment in contrast to conventional MIG equipment, and particually look for feature benefits that could make a real world contribution to welding shops. In all this time this electronically sensitive, costly to purchase and costly to maintain MIG equipment has shown on the majority of the world's carbon steel applications that pulsed MIG provides no practical welding quality, production or cost benefits. Click here.
Ed teaching his grandson, so that one day he won't have
to ask a salesman from Lincoln "how to make a MIG weld"
So as some of you will now be aware, we are all part of one screwed up industry, and for the sake of sanity keep your skin thick and welll lubricated and please keep a sense of humor.
How the senior management and engineers influenced the Pulsed MIG weld cracking issues on the Ford truck Axles:
If as a key weld decision maker, you wanted to make your weld manufacturing life more expensive, more complex and less meaningful than it needs to be, you could listen to a weld salesman and then order their costly pulsed MIG power source for your carbon steel weld applications.
1999 - 2000: My weld task appeared simple. A tier one, axle manufacturer, American Axle (AA) was located in Michigan. AA ordered two robot systems to weld Ford truck axles. The company I worked for supplied the robots, American Axle's weld engineer specified the Lincoln Power Wave for the two robot cells.
As the robot supplier, we were responsible for buiding the robot cells and ensuring the axle weld quality was in accordance with the quality guidelines as specified by Ford.
The robot MIG weld production quota was approx. one million axles annually. When the robot cells were complete, as part of the contract, we were also required to provide a few thousand welded axles as part of the robot cell run off. Little did I know about the extensive pulsed MIG weld cracking issues that were about to occur as a result of the Lincoln equipment and the AA apathetic management. For the rest of the story click here.
Many global companies will benefit, if they redefine the weld accountability, responsibility and ownership of all those that make weld decisions..
Correctly defined, weld personnel job descriptions,
in the weld industry are as rare as an honest politican.
Can you relate to this common management issue?
" JOE, WE HAVE SO MANY MIG WELD ISSUES AT THE PLANT, YOU TELL ME, WHO THE HELL IS IN CONTROL OF THE ROBOTS"?
Who's in charge or who should be in charge of the robot welds? Two simple questions, yet questions that would cause controversy for most global managers, engineers and supervisors, especially those in the auto - truck industry.
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 and supervision meant little. Why should the managers get involved? After all most managers thought that all MIG welders "played around" with MIG controls. and as long as the welders had their shields down and sparks were being generated, that's all that counts. As for controlling those MIG or FCA weld costs. For many managers and supervisors, it was a simple function, you simply keep you eye on on the distributor prices paid for the weld wires and gas mixes.
You can live with as much BS as you can absorb on the weld shop floor, but that BS has to stop, once the robots march in.
Hy Doc. This paitent was a manual MIG welder, and now his weld shop is bringing in robots, we are going to have to cut off his "play around organ".
2000. THE WELD BLAME GAME: It's no surprise that when management, engineers and supervision is not familer with the process control requirements of the process attached to their robots, that they will look to others for the root cause of their daily robot MIG weld quality - productivity issues
The responsibility for the never ending robot weld quality and productivity is often laid on the back of a frustrated and over worked robot technician, or too often on maintenance personnel who unfortunately like the robot tech, have have never received Robot MIG Process Control - Best Weld Practice Training.
THE ROBOT WELD LIABILITY POTENTIAL INCREASES DRAMATICALLY WHEN UNQUALIFIED PERSONNEL CREATE UNQUALIFIED WELDS:
It makes no sense that management would allow unqualified robot technicians or electricians and millwrights in the maintenance department to make unqualified weld changes and producing part with unqualified welds.
Note: Lawyers should love this.
WHEN IT COMES TO RESOLVING ROBOT WELD ISSUES, MANY AUTO - TRUCK PLANTS FOUND OUT THAT PICKING FIVE GUYS THAT LACKED PROCESS CONTROL EXPERTISE AND CALLING THEM THE WELD TEAM, DID NOT PROVIDE THE RESOLUTIONS THEY WERE LOOKING FOR.
The ratio of engineers to shop floor workers is usually the highest in the auto - truck plants that each day produce high volume production. In these facilities the majority of the mfg. issues are usually found in "three process areas".
Common areas in manufacturing plants "where process control expertise is lacking";
 The weld shop.
 The paint shop.
 The press shop.
The common manufacturing process issues that result daily in most plants, is an indication that the responsible managers, engineer and supervisors do not understand the fundamental process control & best practices.
Note: In the 1990s, as the weld mgr. at one of the world's largest robot manufactures, I would request that customers send their personnel for both our robot progamming and robot MIG weld process control training programs. I remember one session when the General Motors management at one plant, sent personnel for the training, and my impression with the guys that they sent, was that they could barely read. This again to me was simply another indication of the ignorance and lack of respect that the inexperienced GM management had for the unique requirements for Robot weld optimization through robot Weld Process Controls.
IF THE EXPERTISE IS LACKING WHY NOT TRY
EGO - ATTITUDE - APATHY.
Managers like below, are often the reason for robot
weld quality - productivity and cost issues
Since the introduction of robots into the auto -truck industry, you could readily measure the robot MIG weld quality - productivity cost consequences in "billions" of dollars. The bottom line is most of those weld issues were generated by unqualified managers and engineers who seem to show little interest in resolving their lack of process control expertise.
ESAB / ABB Arcitec, Aluminum,
robot weld Issues with Ford parts.
FORD ALUMINUM CAR SEAT ISSUES: During 2000, I was requested by an engineer at VAW a tier one supplier to analyze the welding performance of their ABB robots and the ESAB Arcitec MIG weld equipment. VAW produced high quality, extruded aluminum parts. The aluminum MIG welded car seats were for Ford. The car seats and parts required many small welds (short arc cycles) which were made on thin gage 6061 aluminum.
Criterion Machinery was the robot system integrator for the Ford seats. Two ABB robot cells were ordered. ABB had advised Criterion that their "Swedish ESAB Arcitec" MIG power source was the power source of choice for the thin gage aluminum welding requirements. The Arcitec power source claim to fame at that time was, it was unique, as it was the first ESAB MIG power source that was fully integrated into an ABB robot control panel.
Two ABB robot cells containing the Arcitec power sources were shipped to Criterion for initial fixture and weld tests. The weld tests carried out at this time were minimal as Criterion did not have the necessary weld process expertise to evaluate the Arcitec or for that matter any MIG power source. The two robot cells were complwete and then shipped to VAW, a tier one supplier.
Since the installation of the ABB / ESAB robot cells, continuous production of optimum weld quality parts had been impossible due to the issues documented in this report. Weld reject rates averaged sixty percent and the robot down time per-hour averaged 20 to 30 minutes.
Many issues are documented and I have not included them all in this report, however the primary cause of the extensive weld quality and productivity issues at VAW was the ESAB Arcitec power source . This weld equipment had extensive electronic problems that affected the output and weld transfer. The bottom line is the weld results were inconsistent and unsuited to the needs for the high volume, small welds on the thin aluminum parts.
Arcitec Power source History.The Arcitec power source was manufactured by ESAB in Sweden in the late 1990s. The Arcitec was an inverter pulsed GMAW power source. This power source was integrated into the ABB S4/S4C robot controls. This was done to improve the communication "response commands and time" between the robot controller and welding power source.
I have extensive knowledge of Arcitec power source issues, as I was previously employed by ABB, the Swedish manufacturer of robots. My position with ABB was weld manager / senior weld process engineer. Part of my responsibility was to evaluate the application performance of new welding equipment which included the Arcitec. I have evaluated many power sources in the previous three decades and cannot recall any welding power source that even came close to the amount of weld Issues generated by the Arcitec. The bottom line, with insufficient testing this equipment was introduced by ESAB to the market place for use with a robot, without concern for it's weldability capability with commom weld transfer modes and welds wires.
The German marketing manager at ABB Fort Collins, made the mistake of believing the Swedish sales spiel from the marketing manager at ESAB about the capability of the Arcitec. Over 100 units were ordered to be installed in the ABB robots for North America. As I tested the Arcitec at ABB and found the Arcitech performance highly erratic with many other issues. I documented the power source faults and the demonstrated the issues to the ABB managers. As the marketing s manager had foolishly ordered and commited to approx one million dollars worth of Arcitec power source inventory, he was not happy with my reality and therefore he ignored the Arcitec weld test results and the info in my reports.
As a result of the never ending software / hardware issues and erratic performance from the Arcitec, eventually ABB did reduce it's focus and promotion of the European ESAB package and instead focused on promoting either the slightly less inconsistent Miller Invision and Lincoln Power Waves.
Four years after the introduction of the erratic Arcitec with ABB robots, while working as a consultant, I was requested by VAW to evaluate their poor performing robot installations. I knew the installation had an Arcitech power source, however I was under the impression that the poor performing Arcitecs had been taken out of service and were no longer sold at that time. I thought I would be examining new ESAB Arcitech units that had evolved electronically from the original equipment I had evaluated four years previously. What I saw while welding at VAW was I believe the same Arcitech power sources which were manufactured four years earlier. The units I tested at VAW certainly had the same unique electronic glitches causing wire burn backs, erratic arcs and other issues which I was familiar with. The bottom line was four years had passed and ABB was still selling a power source that they knew was generating weld issues a power source that would provide inconsistent output weld voltage and weld performance. I recommended that VAW change the MIG units.
WHAT WENT ON AT VAW WITH THEIR NEW WELD EQUIPEMENT?
 A few months after VAW accepted the robot cells, "three Arcitec power sources were replaced" by ABB. The typical life of a traditional MIG power source is approx. 10 years without requiring repairs. With the more sophisticated, inverter pulsed equipment one would anticipate that this equipment should at least last till the warranty runs out, which was typically two to three years.
 Five months after the robots were installed, the two robots with the replaced new Arcitech equipment were unable to produce consistent, acceptable weld production or quality. Weld reject rates were in the 60-70%% range and the production cycle efficiency rarely attained 40%.
A Primary Weld Issue. "Wire Burn Backs"
From a weld production perspective the most serious issue apart from the arc stability was the numerous weld wire burn backs which were generated during the arc starts. This had a dramatic impact on robot down time.,
MANAGEMENT - ENGINEERING, ACCOUNTABILITY - REPONSIBILITY - OWNERSHIP? I could fill many pages of the problems that I knew about the Arcitech MIG power source, however its now 2015 and I would rather the reader think about what role the mangers and Engineers at ABB - ESAB - VAW - Criterion Machinery and Ford could have done to see that this costly robot issue would have never happened. If you can't figure it out, the answers are in my 7 Steps to Robot Weld Process Controls.
Robot programming is one expertise and robot MIG weld
process controls and best weld practice is another.
POOR MANAGEMENT MENTORING, WITH INNEFECTIVE TRAINING COMBINED WITH UNWARRANTED INFLATED YOUNG EGOS, SIMPLY MEANS THE ROBOT MIG WELD COSTS, QUALITY & PRODUCTIVITY POTENTIAL WILL NEVER BE WHAT IT COULD BE.
When the robot welded carbon steel parts are typically >2 mm, there should be low weld burn through risks and the robot MIG welds should be a simple task. That task becomes easier when companies such as Magna who I think is the world's largest tier one supplier, utilizes a combination of good part design, stamped parts that actually meet design dimension specifications, good fixtures and good manufacturing practices. With these robot welds, the weld quality and productivity potential is often at a reasonable, but sometime not optimum level.
At one Magna plant I visited, I tried to pass MIG process control information to the robot technicians that were having a specific weld problem. On average these technicians had two - three years robot programming experience. Now keep in mind, that at that time I had been doing MIG process control for approx. 40 years and I also had been the robot weld mgr. for the company that made the robots that were being used by Magna. The "just out of school" Magna technicians, let me know they had nothing to learn from an old fart like me, who by the was was being paid well by their management to solve the problems that the technicians could not resolve.
The sad reality for the "you cant teach us anything" technicians was they were not getting the right mentoring or the training they required from the Magna management. The first thing you teach young people in this buisness is "keep an open mind" The reality is these robot weld technicians had in there twenties stopped learning and by the way, at this plant, the average robot weld speeds were 20 - 40 inch/min. I had made the similar welds in the 1990s, and I attained robot weld travel rates at 60 to 80 inch/min.
Note: The readers at this site should be aware that in most automotive - truck plants, >90% of the welds produced are not subject to a macro (internal) weld evaluations. If NDT was applied, typically a great portion of the welds would reveal serous defects like lack of fusion, undercut, excess porosity and crater issues.
IF YOU EVER FEEL IN YOUR CAREER THAT YOU HAVE NO MORE TO LEARN, YOU DON'T BELONG IN THE ENGINEERING OR SCIENCE FIELDS, YOU WOULD LIKELY BE BETTER SUITED TO WORKING IN A DONUT SHOP. E Craig 2013.
I have great respect for the founder and owner of Magna who I believe at one time was a very goodt tool maker and likely the reason Magna consistently produces good stampings. However it's been my experience from the 1000 plus companies that I've provided weld production - quality improvements for, that when that large manufacturing corporations allow hands off, middle management who usually don't understand the meaning of process ownership, to enable their workers, supervisors, technicians and engineers to get by with minimal process control expertise such as that found around the MIG process, then it's not rocket science to figure out that Magna, as with many of it's tier one predecessors, (Tower) eventually will pay an unnecessary premium for the parts it produces. Those manufacturing premiums which take a chunck out of the profits may be derived from;
[a] Paying for overpriced automated and weld equipment that provides costly, unnecessary bells and whistles, as found on overpriced pulsed MIG equipment. These are the products which are usually influenced by someone in sales.
[b] The general lack of understanding of weld process controls and the lack of best practices expertise means the welds will not always be established to achieve a robot's full weld or quality production potential. In too many auto plants it takes two robots to do the work of one. If a robot spends more than 10 minutes downtime each shift it's under utilized.
[c] Weld rework may be generated that increases the part costs. Anything above one percent rework is not acceptable.
[d] Weld quality issues could involve future recall and liability cost consequences.
Lets face it, and this logic applies to any weld shop, if a company purchases a robot and there is not one person on the weld shop floor or one supervisor or manager can tell the deposition rate potential for a common weld or the cost of a simple, yet common 3/16 (4.8mm) fillet weld, how can that costly e equipment or process be maximized?
We all know there are a few good robot technicians that have extensive MIG weld process controls and best practices expertise, (I have trained many), however and managers don't like to hear this, these guys are the minority. For those robot weld programmers, technicians, supervisors, engineers or managers that figure they don't need robot process or best practice expertise, try the following fundamental, yet important MIG process control test, and after the test ask your self, "is this info important to my company and to my career.
ENGINEERS - SUPERVISORS AND TECHNICIANS, TO AVOID ROBOT WELD PROBLEMS AND OPTIMIZE THE WELD PRODUCTIVITY, IT'S LOGICAL THAT YOU WOULD WANT TO TAKE OWNERSHIP FOR THE PROCESSES AND EQUIPMENT USED THE WELDD CELLS.
THE ROBOT QUALITY - PRODUCTIVITY ISSUES FREQUENTLY COMMENCE WITH THE ROBOT INTEGRATOR: It's a robot weld reality, that with the major auto / truck companies that many of the robot weld issues are caused before the robots get to the plants.
WHY WOULD ANYONE IN THE AUTO - TRUCK INDUSTRY ORDER A ROBOT WITHOUT FIRST HAVING THE ROBOT AND FIXTURE SUPPLIERS PROVE THAT THEIR PRODUCTS AND CONSUMABLES CAN CONSISTENTLY PRODUCE;
[a] FOUR HOURS OF ROBOT WELD PRODUCTION, MEETING THE WELD PRODUCTION CYCLE TIME, WITH NO MORE THAN 5 MINUTES DOWN TIME,
[b] FOUR HOURS OF ROBOT WELD PRODUCTION WITH NO MORE THAN 1% WELD REWORK.
[c] ALL PARTS WITH 100% QUALITY WELDS. EVIDENCE PROVIDED THAT SHOWS ALL WELDS FULLY FUSED WITH ACCEPTABLE POROSITY AND DISTORTION.
As mentioned, it's not uncommon to find the robot weld issues that result from the selection of oversized MIG weld consumables and poor performing weld equipment and fixtures. Many times the new robots will not be calibrated correctly, or lack essential equipment options which are necessary to deal with the parts.
The robots, weld equipment, fixtures and consumable selection is often influenced by project engineers who are frequently mechanical or electrical engineers, or by other inexperienced purchasing individuals that don't understand the MIG process and it's automated needs. Other issues will arise from those project managers who have to ask a salesmen for advice
Combine the above issues, and and then throw into the pot manufacturing engineers that lack the ability to provide stamped or formed parts that meet the design dimensional specifications. Finally add to the mix, inexperienced, hands off manufacturing managers who do not believe or understand process and equipment ownership and you have a city called Detroit, with global plants that will never know the cost of a weld, will never figure out their real robot weld production potential, and certainly will never attain their real weld cost, quality and productivity potential.
The solution is a simple one.
THE FRUSTRATED, BEHIND THE GLASS WALL VP OF MANUFACTURING, SPELLS IT OUT FOR ONE OF HIS BEHIND THE GLASS WALL PLANT MANUFACTURING MANAGERS:
DAM IT JOE. IF YOU CANNOT CONTROL THE ROBOT WELDS WITH THE MILLIONS THAT WE SPENT AND WITH ALL OUR ENGINEERING EXPERTISE, MAYVE WE SHOULD SHIP THE ROBOTS AND THE PARTS DOWN TO MEXICO, AT LEAST THERE WE CAN BURY THE WELD ISSUES WITH A CHEAP LABOR FIX.
LETS FACE IT IF THE MAJOR AUTO & TRUCK COMPANIES COULD PRODUCE THE PART IN A COST EFFECTIVE, PROFITABLE MANNNER, THEY WOULD NOT REQUIRE THE TIER SUPPLIERS.
If GM, Chrysler and Ford and the other major auto - truck manufacturers were capable of managing essential mfg.. processes such as robot MIG welding, painting and stamping cost efficiently, then there would be no need for tier suppliers.
With auto - truck company management, controlling mfg. costs will often mean cutting people, reducing wages, slashing benefits, shutting plants or requesting more state loans. And an extensive portion of the profits they will generate will be derived from decreasing the prices made for their parts from their tier suppliers.
In contrast, with the primary tier suppliers, profits are made when daily productivity and quality goals are consistently attained within the budget. If those suppliers cannot bring their process costs down annually, unlike the big three, the suppliers will eventually be driven out of business or possibly move their plant to Mexico.
Volvo. Management & Engineer Weld Process Control Awareness.
At the Volvo heavy construction equipment manufacturing facility near my home in Asheville, North Carolina, the plant weld manager ran an add in the local paper looking for "skilled MIG welders" to run his plant's welding robots. As I live in Asheville and I was bored, I phoned the Volvo plant manager and asked;
"Why are you looking to hire skilled welders, when the robots that you have purchased are supposed to provide the welding skills"? We had a good chat and the manager asked if I would visit his plant.
When I got to the Volvo plant, and while walking past the many large robot cells on the way to the managers office, I instantly became aware from the surrounding robot MIG arc sounds, and with the thickness of the steels being welded, (most welds on parts >8 mm), that this plant should be having lack of weld fusion issues with their robot welds. By the way the welds were all picture perfect.
As we sat down, over some pretty poor Southern coffee, I told the plant manager about my MIG weld fusion concerns for his good looking welds. My concern about weld fusion startled the plant manager, I suppose it was because I had spent no more than two minutes walking through his plant. The reason the Volvo plant mar gave me a strange look, was that a few day previous, the manager had received a letter from the Volvo corporate testing facilities in Sweden. The letter stated that the latest NDT robot weld tests of the Asheville plants products revealed extensive lack of weld fusion issues.
The mar asked how I knew he had weld problems, I explained that anyone who is trained in MIG weld process controls would understand the relationship of the intensity of an arc sound with the weld fusion attained for a specific thickness.
When we got back to why he wanted to hire "skilled MIG weld personnel" to run the Volvo MIG weld robots, I explained that the optimization of the robots will not come from skilled welders who typically lack process control - best practice expertise, and also its the robots that provide the skills.
What this Volvo plant mar required as evident with the lack of fusion issues that was daily being generated, was robot programmers and weld decision makers who are trained in Robot MIG weld process control and best practices expertise.
With a few dollars spent on my robot and manual MIG and flux cored weld process control training program, a company would not need NDT to tell them when the welds are not going to meet the weld quality requirements or their welds are cost effective.
Note: Ed when Volvo had robot weld quality - productivity issues. on their W. Virginia robot Truck Cab welds, Ed optimized the weld quality - production, and then trained the Volvo employees.
Ed also provided his MIG process control - best practice training program to Mack Truck - Fruehauf and to Freight Liner.
A COMMON DENOMINATOR THAT IS PART OF
THE GLOBAL MIG WELDING INDUSTRY
you CHICKLETSMIGLETS, we have to
depend on him, after all he is a "salesman".
When a robot technician or weld shop supervisor requires weld process advice for a robot MIG weld issue, they know that good advice will be rare from either the manufacturing managers or the engineer's office.
The weld advice for many weld shops unfortunately too often comes through the door in the form of a local weld distributor sales rep.
The weld salesmen is typically an individual who has never run or even worked in a weld shop, Out of the six thousand weld salesman employed in North America in 2015, I doubt if you could find six that could walk into a robot cell and instantly apply the data and practices that would consistently attain the highest robot weld quality with the lowest possible weld costs.
The sales rep is also often an individual that will have bias for the weld product lines he sells. Of course I know there are exceptions to this, and I also know weld salesman. As the training mgr. for Airgas, AGA, Liquid Carbonic and Praxair, at one time or another in the 1990's, I trained over a 1500 weld sales reps.
WHEN THE LATEST CONSUMABLES OR STATE OF THE ART ROBOTS AND WELD EQUIPMENT PROVIDE DISSAPOINTING WELD RESULTS....When that new robot, the new weld wire, the magic three part gas mix, or the new pulsed weld equipment loaded with another bells and whistles to create a band does not attain the desired weld results, the next step many managers will take, is seek advice from the companies who make the robots, the weld equipment or the consumables.
There are two types of sales reps that you will find in the weld industry. The ones that I respect are few in numbers. These guys are those who decide to test what they are told with hands on welding, they never stop learning and will always let their customer know when asked a question that they cannot answer, "that they don't know." In contrast I am sure you have met the other guys.
As in most instances, once the sales bovine fecal matter has been spooned out over lunch, the sales influenced weld results are often costly and disappointing. In this manufacturing industrial environment, those that took the advice from the sales rep will either bury their head in the sand or slowly withdraw from the weld shop floor and spend more time with their computer.
I WROTE THIS IN 1999 TO GM MANAGEMENT. WITH TOO MANY MANUFACTURING MANAGERS, ENGINEERS AND SUPERVISORS INVOLVED WITH WELDS, THE ROBOT WELD QUALITY - REWORK AND PRODUCTION ISSUES ARE ALWAYS THE FAULT OF SOMEONE ELSE.
I COULD SAY THIS IN 1985, AND I CAN SAY THIS TODAY 30 YEARS LATER IN 2015.
"DAM IT JOE WE HAVE OVER TWO MILLION DOLLARS INVESTED IN THAT NEW ROBOT LINE. WE HAVE SPENT TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS ON TRAINING AND YET THE ROBOT WELD REWORK RATE IS OVER FIFTY PERCENT, THE ROBOT DOWN TIME IS PATHETIC AND OUR WELD PRODUCTION EFFICIENCY AND CONSISTENCY STINKS. NOW JOE, LOOK ME IN THE EYE, AND TRY TO TELL ME AGAIN, THAT THE ROBOT PROBLEMS ARE CAUSED BY THE PEOPLE ON THE SHOP FLOOR".
With the introduction of sophisticated robots into a traditional manual weld facility, it's logical to assume that the robots would be influenced by the "play around" weld shop culture.
You don't have to be a brain surgeon to figure out that MIG welding robots require a unique approach to manufacturing. And the rare progressive individuals that visit this site would be aware that the introduction of the robots would be an excellent opportunity to be the catalyst for the long over due changes that are required in the play around with the controls, manual weld shop.
Many of you will be aware, that few weld personnel are happy when change is required in the weld shop. It's also logical to assume that the manual weld shop environment with it's self taught, play around ingrained culture could negatively influence the weld quality - productivity performance potential of those new MIG welding robots. In this normal manual weld manufacturing environment, it does not make much sense to purchase robots and then let the weld personnel play around with the robot weld controls.
A ship could readily go round in circles or get into trouble without the leadership of an experienced captain and his highly qualified, "hands on" engineering crew. Robot MIG weld optimization does not require a "hands on" mar. however its very beneficial if the weld decision makers at least understand the importance of Robot MIG weld process controls - and robot MIG weld best practices.
If you are a manager, engineer, supervisor or technician involved in robot weld decisions and have not acquired the process control expertise, please note.
I have developed a Seven Steps to Optimum Robot MIG weld program over a three decade period, its a few hundred dollars, and its so simple that you do not require a weld back ground to present this self teaching or training program.
JOE, IT'S TIME WE CHANGED
THIS BLOODY WELD SHOP CULTURE:
IF THIS WEB SITE COULD SIMPLY STOP WELD PERSONNEL FROM PLAYING AROUND WITH WELD CONTROLS, AND MOTIVATE MANGERS TO TAKE OWNERSHIP OF WELD PROCESSES, IT WOULD HAVE SERVED ITS PURPOPSE.
Don;t you get fed up hearing this?
Joe I need some time to "PLAY AROUND" with the MIG weld data.
Another popular weld saying.
WHY CHANGE the way we have always done it?
As a manager, engineer or supervisor, you will likely be aware that every weld shop has it's unique pecking order, its personnel cliques and ingrained culture, and why not? After all the weld industry is one in which it's environment has been influenced by the combination of self taught weld skills, lack of process control - best practice expertise, sales influence, and too many weld myths. Throw this lot in a pot, and out pops an industry with an extremely slow weld process / application evolution. An industry that still uses inappropriate practices that have changed little in five decades. HOWEVER THE GOODS NEWS IS. In this environment it should be no surprise to find that their is great opportunity for weld quality improvements, dramatic weld cost reductions, and on that weld shop floor, there will also be the fear of change..
Take a trip with me to the USA, automotive exhaust manufacturing plant, where for more than a decade, the Management and engineers did not know that the whole plant was using the wrong MIG Weld Polarity on all its welds?
Project: Freight Liner Trucks.
Robot Weld Process Optimization.
Once in a while, I would walk into a manufacturing plant and be impressed by the managements attempts and practices in place to build their products to their actual design specifications. Freight Liner is one of those rare companies, and because of this, it's also a company that can provide one of the world's most extensive and highest milage truck warranty programs.
I was requested by Freight Liner management to provide robot weld process controls - best practices for some of its critical MIG welded parts. I made major weld changes to the existing robot weld programs on the ABB robots. The process changes were developed to improve the robot weld fusion on critical parts and also to reduce the weld cycle times of both their HD and LD parts.
Project Required: Robot Process Improvements:
The following is a condensed version
of my weld report to Freight Liner.
The following robot changes have been implemented at your facility. The changes were made in the existing weld programs of the ABB 2400 series robots. The robot program changes completed in the first week of Aug, were designed to improve the weld fusion potential, reduce the porosity and also to reduce the weld cycle times of both your high warranty HD and LD parts. My new robot weld programs were saved on discs and delivered to the mgr of engineering.
I made the following robot weld changes to improve both your weld quality and productivity.
YOUR ROBOT MIG GUNS AND CONTACT TIP POSITIONS:
The benefits of recessing the robot contact tips 3 mm inside the nozzle were proven with the robot test welds made. The recessed contact tip greatly extended the tip life, reducing wire burn back potential and reducing robot downtime. The recessed contact tip provides an extended wire extension which lowered the weld current . The reduction in current enabled me to increase the wire feed rate increasing the weld travel rate and decreasing the weld time.
Note: Instead of purchasing new tips or longer nozzles, I had 3 mm spacer O ring sleeves machined, which were when placed behind the nozzle provided the correct tip position.
YOUR MIG GAS MIX SELECTION INFLUENCE ON YOUR WELD FUSION:
The argon 2% oxygen mix used at Gastonia is a low energy oxidizing mix. To enhance the opportunity for superior weld fusion with my higher speed welds, I changed the gas to a mix I introduced to the USA, Argon + 15% CO2 mix.This gas mix provided improved weld fusion profiles in all the weld tests we carried out, and as this mix provided slightly higher weld voltage, the arc stability was improved.
As each robot will utilize the equivalent of a gas cylinder per shift per week, I would recommend that at this time you do not make changes to a bulk system and go with cylinders for the present.
However there appears to be a restriction to the gas flow in the 2400 robot cells, the gas flow rate was reduced by fifty percent from the flowmeter to the gun nozzle outlet. It should be part of the robot operators daily function to ensure that 35 to 40 cuft/hr is available at the gun nozzle exit. The restricted gas flow has been affecting the weld penetration profile and increased the weld porosity potential.
THE WELD POROSITY ISSUES: The weld porosity in your welds was also influenced by the lubricants left on the welded part surfaces, the anti-spatter system which put too much lubricant in the nozzles, (dripped into the welds) and the argon oxygen mix utilized. More focus is required on providing cleaner parts .
YOUR AUTOMATED, ANTI-SPATTER ROBOT SYSTEM: This equipment in the robot cell should be checked by maintenance weekly, especially when one considers the importance of the high weld quality required and the influence of anti-spatter lubricant on the weld quality attained. On my initial visit, the anti-spatter system was set too high in one cell, resulting in excess anti spatter compound being ejected from the nozzle on the weld part surface. Anti spatter compounds will add to the weld porosity and can add to the weld cracking potential.
Your operators should not be allowed to set the anti-spatter unit which has now been reset to a much lower amount. The anti spatter liquid should deliver a minuscule amount of compound after each nozzle clean cycle. The small amount of anti spatter compound does assist in the easy removal of the spatter in the nozzle automated ream cycle. The new welding program I produced provides much less spatter and therfore I reduced the nozzle cleaning requirements, which THEN enabled less anti spatter compound is used.
THE ROBOT MIG WIRE: Your MIG wire was sometimes out of spec. As each drum of wire is replaced, the operator should be trained to examine the wire cast and helix after the wire is cold fed from the MIG gun. If required, adjustments should be made to the wire straightner. Please note I recommend you change from the E70S-6 wire you are using to an E70S-3 wire. This wire will produce slightly less surface slag islands and reduce your undercut potential.
INCREASED PRODUCTION. THE ROBOT WELD CYCLE TIMES:
As you are aware I have decreased the robot weld cycle time by 2 minutes per part resulting in a saving of over 3300 hrs robot weld time per-100.000 parts for this one application. The same savings will also be generated on the LD parts. The weld time reduction is primary a result of changing the weld sequence, improving the weld deposition rates, improving the efficiency of the robot manipulations, removing the nozzle cleaning from every part and programming the cleaning action to occur for only one in five parts.
THE ROBOT WELD DATA: Consistent weld quality from each shift is only achieved when all those involved in the robot application are aware of the variables that can effect consistent weld fusion. As you are aware, attaining consistent weld fusion for this critical, high milage warranty application is a sensitive issue, and any changes outside my recommendations will effect your weld fusion. The same weld process control - best practices logic also applies to attaining consistent weld productivity from each shift. It would be beneficial for weld process control data that I provided, if the data was placed on a poster size board outside each of the robot cells involved with this application.
Note" The most critical locations on your welds are the first and last 20 mm of weld. It will be notable that when you cut and etch your weld samples you may note that one side of the weld indicates superior fusion than the other side, this results from the tendency of MIG towards lack of weld fusion on cold starts. Lack of weld fusion is also common at the completion of the weld at the weld tie-ins. I recommend that the weld speed be slowed down by 10% in the r these two small but critical areas. Please ensure this data is reviewed and understood by the operators.
THE LACK OF A ROBOT CELL LOG :If wire, equipment, part, fixture or weld problems, occur during the shift there is no robot cell documentation being produced. Ensure that each operator document all problems in the robot cell log. These logs should be reviewed by the weld team at least once a week.
ROBOT PROGRAM TRAINING: Your ABB 2400 series robots, with the S4 control, provides your organization with the ability to utilize unique tools which will have significant practical weld benefits. As you are aware, few of your programmers or operators are proficient in the ABB programming, and when training is provided much of it will be quickly forgotten when an operator does little more than operate the existing programming. These factors unfortunately add greatly to the underutilization of the robots at your facility and also add extensive time required for the programming when a prototype part is presented. I would recommend the selection of your most experienced operator and make him your robot technician. Send this person for training at the ABB robot school till he feels fully confident in his programming ability.
ROBOT WELD PROCESS CONTROL - BEST PRACTICES TRAINING: The most important step in maintaining consistent robot weld quality and productivity is to train the operators with my unique, weld process control training program. It's extremely important that the robot operators be aware of what they can change and what they must not touch. It's also important that these individuals have the ability to recognize the arc sounds, as this is an excellent diagnostic tool for a robot cell. At the start of the shift and after lunch the first parts welded by the robots should be carefully examined before production fully starts.
I wish to thank your management and engineers for their full cooperation and look forward to working with your organization in the future.
Why should there be management weld cost
confusion with a 50 year old, two control process?
WELD COSTS SHOULD BE SIMPLE WHEN THE WELD DECISION MAKERS UNDERSTAND THE WELD PROCESS AND CONSUMABLES UTILIZED:
In my visits to over 1000 plants in 13 countries, it was rare for to talk with weld shop management that understood the real costs of the common welds they daily produced. Managers who want control of their weld costs should be less concerned with the cost of their weld wires and gas mixes, (consumables typically account for around 12 - 17% of real weld costs), and be more concerned and knowledgeable about the MIG weld process controls and the daily weld deposition rates that are being attained. I simplify MIG and Flux Cored weld cost calculations, in my self weld process control training and self teaching resources.
BEFORE INVESTING IN A ROBOT CELL, MANAGEMENT SHOULD ENSURE SOMEONE IN THE COMPANY
HAS THE PROCESS EXPERTISE NECESSARY TO OPTIMIZE THE ROBOT WELD QUALITY - PRODUCTIVITY.
IF THE MANUAL WELDERS OR ROBOT TECHNICIANS ARE PLAYING AROUND WITH THE MIG WELD CONTROLS, CONSIDER THIS WELD PROCESS EXPERTISE TO ENSURE THE ROBOTS ATTAIN THEIR FULL WELD QUALITY - PRODUCTION POTENTIAL?
Advice for managers considering a robot purchase?
For those job shops that want to do low to medium volume, ever changing, common steel - stainless robot weld applications, (not pipe or cladding), please 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 that fancy pulsed MIG power source with it's 1 trillion wave forms.
 When an integrator advises you to use an expensive, 10 to 15K, pulsed MIG power source, for a carbon steel application, remember this is not necessary, and it's usually an indication that this guy is sales influenced.
 Examine the weld logic and length of time required in the program of a weld. For example you will find it easier and faster to program an ABB robot weld, than if you were using a Panasonic robot weld.
 Examine the program ease in which the CV, MIG weld data, wire feed, voltage can be changed. If using pulsed MIG, examine how easy to change it is for the pulsed parameters and what are the pulsed limitations.
 Examine the logic layout of the welding programs, and make sure it's easy to switch from the pulsed mode to the CV weld modes.
 Examine the calibration accuracy between the weld data in the pendant, the power source, and weld data delivered.
 Examine the automated TCP capability and repeatability and how easy it is to use this important function.
 Examine the requirement for through the arc tracking. or touch sensing to locate the weld joint. With these options examine the ease of programing and examine how effective they 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 torch cleaning stations.
 Don't even consider buying a robot unless it can show that it will attain 100% weld quality - productivity success with the intended parts. To ensure this, before you sign on the dotted line to purchase the robot, make sure the integrator shows he can at least produce two hour's weld production, meeting the weld quality, with zero % weld rework. And also provide the weld production required without zero % robot down time.
 Examine the robot instruction literature, the training provided, the technical support and service. And with that initial discussion with the integrators or equipment reps, figure out who's' supplying the most bovine fecal matter.
THAT ROBOT YOU ARE CONSIDERING, MAY BE USED IN AN AUTO OR TRUCK PLANT WHERE THEY RARELY CHANGE THE WELD PROGRAMS, AND THE POOR INCONSISTENT ROBOT WELD QUALITY AND PRODUCTIVITY IS ADDRESSED BY ADDING MANUAL WORKERS TO THE END OF THE ROBOT LINE. HOWEVER THESE ROBOTS AND THEIR EQUIPMENT MAY NOT MAKE THE GRADE IN A JOB SHOP.
MANAGEMENT AND HIGH 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 necessary high tech individuals that support and set up this 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 technicians responsible for setting and operating the arc welding robots. A wise manager, supervisor, technician or engineer would consider the benefits of my effective, unique robot or manual "weld process control training program.
MANAGERS, consider the floor management and engineering, expertise necessary for the implementation of automated weld best practicess - process controls.
MANAGERS, evaluate your robot engineers, technicians and robot operators "job descriptions". Fill in the missing links for the required process controls and best practices expertise, then ensure you provide the necessary training.
MANAGERS, consider your corporate "product liability consequences" from weld quality issues and the consequences that can arise from the poor practices in which daily unqualified robot weld changes are being made by unqualified weld personnel.
Throughout the weld world, for every MIG welding robot that is not welding at
peak performance, there are twenty resistance welding robots out of control.
ROBOT - RESISTANCE WELDS IS SIMPLY ANOTHER WELD PROCESS THATS FOR DECADES BEEN IN A STATE OF CHAOS:
A walk through many automotive plant's robot resistance weld department, would likely reveal that the resistance spot weld data monitors and electronic process controls which 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 showing excess data. Other robots will clamp their weld jaws together with barely an electrical whimper. You would be amazed to find out how many of the welds will miss the specified locations or simply not provide any welds.
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 and there is no guarantee with the quality of these welds.
THOSE SELF ANNOINTED, MAINTENANCE "WELD EXPERTS".
In many manufacturing plants, when it comes to the robot MIG welds, the inexperienced, management will often request the unqualified maintenance department millrights ,mechanics or electricians to be responsible for the robot MIG weld process issues.
In more than 1000 plants I have been in, I have never seen a maintenance shop that has employed a person who had any expertise in robot MIG best practices - process controls. I have seen many maintenance personnel who can use MIG equipment after "playing around" with the two simple controls. The decision to use these unqualified individuals (easily trained with my resources) lies solely with the management.
ROBOT WELDS THAT ARE MADE ON PRODUCTS SUBJECT TO LIABILITY CONCERNS SHOULD FIRST BE QUALIFIED. IF CHANGES ARE THEN LATER MADE IN THE ROBOT CELLS TO THOSE QUALIFIED WELDS, IT'S LOGICAL THAT WHEN NEW WELD DATA OR WELD CHANGES ARE MADE THAT THESE WELDS SHOULD AT LEAST BE TESTED ON PARTS OR SCRAP. UNFORTUNATELY THIS RARELY HAPPENS IN THE GLOBAL AUTO - TRUCK INDUSTRY?
When robot MIG weld problems occur, Implementing effective robot weld changes is rarely going to happen when inexperienced personnel in the maintenance department are allowed to make those weld changes. The following data will hopefully assist management and engineers in the task of achieving MIG weld process optimization.
Note: It would be a rare event to find one person in any global maintenance department that could answer the fundamental MIG process quiz questions that are provided at this site, yet daily in the global auto industry the maintenance guys are making changes to the robot MIG welds. This is the stuff lawyers love to find out.
This weld as I mentioned previously was made by a very costly Lincoln Power Wave (PW). The Power Wave is a pulsed MIG unit that at the time cost approx. $12K. I know that this over priced PW power source was unecessary for the application. It's a point however that the sad looking frame welds you see which at that time were the norm, are not the fault of the infamous, Power Wave. These welds, as all the bad welds on the Ford frame weld lines, simply point to the lack of knowlegable manufacturing management and the engineering ignorance, both of which should be unnaceptable for any large company.
It's easy to fix the robot frame weld problems such as this, that is if you can find manufacturing managers who are sincere about process - equipment ownership, managers intersted in finding out and resolving the root causes of their daily weld process issues.
If you are a manager or engineer looking for a no nonsense approach to your welding issues, consider Ed's process control training resources.
USE MY PROCESS TRAINING OR SELF TEACHING PROGRAMS TO;
 INCREASE ROBOT WELD PRODUCTIVITY:
This training will immediately enable the majority of robot cells to dramatically reduce down time related to weld issues and increase the robot welding productivity typically in the 20 to 50% range.
 IMPROVE WELDING QUALITY:
The training is the only program available that shows robot weld defects and then shows how to ensure weld defects are minized. With this program a company should from a weld perspective to attain a goal of less than 2% robot weld rework
 IMPLEMENT ROBOT WELD PROCESS CONTROLS:
The training provides the tools a company requires to implement effective robot weld process controls which are a necessity to attain "consistent" weld quality and productivity.
 ESTABLISH GLOBAL BEST MANUFACTURING PRACTICES: The training or self teaching program will be a companies key to setting practical realistic global manufacturing - weld standards for any welded parts.
Ed's process control training resources a great tool as a catalyst for change. Click here.
TO ATTAIN OPTIMUM ROBOT WELD QUALITY HAS NEVER REQUIRED A BLACK BELT, A WHITE SHIRT A UNIVERSITY TIE, OR AN UNDERSTANDING OF CONFUSED JAPANESE MANUFACTURING PRACTICES:
WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE ISO AS A TOOL FOR ROBOT OPTIMIZATION OR EMPLOY A WELD PROCESS CONTROL EXPERT?
Today, there is a common theme in many manufacturing plants that "if you can control the plant's often useless, bureaucratic, European induced ISO paper work, you should get control of the manufacturing processes". With weld manufacturing, common sense, best practices, process controls, qualified personnel, with effective training programs and managers and engineers who will roll up their sleeves and actually get involved with processes such as welding and painting were all that was necessary in 1960, and all that is required today in 2103. After 50 years in this business, all I have seen is large corporations like the major USA and Japanese auto - truck companies tout their ISO and black belt qualifications yet continually pay an unnecessary premium for their paint and weld issues. From my perspective all ISO has achieved for most North American plants is, it has drained organizations of valuable engineering resources and man hours that could be better utilized.
I suppose apart from building up the QA department empire many North American managers appreciate ISO as the bureaucratic, specification nightmare often masks the work results and the role of inefficient, inexperienced managers and engineers, decision makers who simply don't have the manufacturing process expertise necessary to implement effective process controls and best practices, yet always seem busy with the ISO compliance requirements..
When it comes to establishinG optimum controls and practices, it's the fundamentals such as:
 The management's leadership and their capability and involvement in process - equipment ownership.
 The management's recognition of it's engineers, technicians, supervisiors qualifications and the process expertise necessary for the implementation of process controls and best weld practices.
ROBOTS & MORE MANAGEMENT FACTS:
GLOBAL ISSUE. In 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.
- WHO DRIVES THE CONTROL TRAIN? Automated weld process controls and best weld practice are not derived from those ineffective AWS weld specifications, from the QA department, from the advice of salesmen, or from the latest lean manufacturing methods.
- WHO PROVIDES THE CORRECT TRAINING PROGRAMS?
Effective weld process controls - best weld practice requires that engineers and workers be trained in the weld process and consumable requirements. This is not the conventional training provided by your local community weld school.
- WHO PROVIDES THE PROCESS CONTROL DISIPLINE? Effective robot weld practice controls requires that management, supervisors engineers and teachnicians ensure the pre-qualified weld data is imlemented and maintained daily.
- WHO ENSURES THE ROBOT PARTS ARE MADE TO THE SPECIFIED DIMENSIONS. This is sad that a stupid question like this would have to be asked.
- WHO ENSURES THE ROBOT MAINTENANCE. Effective management ensure that the robot cells and fixtures are maintained to prevent issues
PERHAPS YOU HAVE BEEN IN A WELD SHOP LIKE THIS:
As you looked around the weld shop you saw no evidence of weld equipment purchase logic or uniformity. In the weld cells throughout the shop, you saw a wide variety of MIG equipment from Miller, Lincoln, Hobart, ESAB and Airco. In this facility, in the daily quest to find a crutch or magic weld solution to the numerous and never ending weld shop issues, the weld shop manager who loved to frequently have lunches with the local weld sales reps, had purchased MIG weld equipment from just about every company that ever made it. When his new MIG weld equipment was found not to be the resolution for the many weld shop issues, the weld shop management and supervision then placed their attention on the lates three - four part MIG gas mix and those new metal cored welding wires.
FOR FIVE DECADES, THE BIGGEST CON GAME IN THE GLOBAL WELD INDUSTRY HAS ALWAYS INVOLVED THE SALE OF MIG GAS MIXES THAT ARE NOT REQUIRED:.
I should know about MIG gas mix compositions, I was a key member of the AWS shielding MIG gas specifications and helped write the MIG gas specifications. For several years that I attended the AWS gas committee meetings, for the meetings I always took a king sized shovel which helped me to scrape up the biased, product bovine fecal matter that spewed out of some of the committee, marketing managers mouths.
Note: In the last three decades, many of the AWS Weld Specifications have like the American Weld Society Weld Journal, been to often heavily influenced by corporate individuals who were involved in the marketing of their companies welding products.
At one time in North America, I counted 40 MIG gas mixes for welding carbon steels. From my 50 years in this buisness I know I need only three MIG gas mixes to provide optimum MIG welds for all carbon and alloy applications. The frequent, erroneous MIG gas mix marketing statements and lies that for decades spewed forth from the major, industrial gas manufacturers and suppliers provided either a crutch or a ray of hope for those inexperienced, frustrated weld department manager or supvisors who struggle daily to get their weld personnel to control the 50 year, old two control MIG process.
With the advice from their weld distributors and gas suppliers, most global weld shops have typically been keen to try any new MIG gas mix that comes through the weld shop door. After all those major gas companies like Air Liqude, Air Gas, BOC, Praxair or Carbonic, should know what they are offering right?.
The majority of medium to large weld shops have a wide variety of useless MIG gas mixes sitting in the weld gas rack. Just as these companies will also typically have a variety of unnecessary MIG and flux cored welding wires in their store. This is the way it's been for 50 years and in 2014, little will change, that is unless weld decision makers take ownership of the processes that are generating the profits for their companies.
Note Ref Fuel Gases: It's not just the MIG and flux cored weld process that cause most weld issues. When it comes to "oxy - fuel cutting" steels, few shops understand the real difference between propane, propylene, natural gas, or acetylene. And for gods sake, don't ask anyone in the shop for either a weld cost analysis of a 1/4 (6 mm) fillet MIG weld or the cost of an oxy propane cut versus a plasma cut.
LACK OF GLOBAL WELD MANUFACTURING STANDARDS?
For the Big Three, or Tier One executives that like to discuss their global manufacturing strategy and their implementation of "Global Manufacturing Standards" the following reality is likely to exist in the executive local plants.
If a USA auto - truck manufacturing company has three sister plants 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 similar 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 of the sister plants.
THE WELD INDUSTRY HAS BECOME A GLOBAL DUMPING GROUND FOR USELESS, COSTLY ELECTRONIC BELLS & WHISTLES.
I have provided weld process optimization consulting services in thirteen countries and it did not matter what country I visited, I found MIG weld process control - best practice ignorance and confusion to be the norm. Another thing most of the countries had in common, was that most of the companies had purchased costly, MIG weld equipment that was loaded with useless, bells and whistles. In general the management in many of the companies believed that the purchase of the bells and whistles would compensate for the issues generated by the weld personnel.
Note It's ironic in 2013 for me to hear corporate executives who do not have the expertise to control the processes in their own plants, talk about the implementation of "Uniform Global Manufacturing Standards".
THE REALITY OF WELD PROCESS OWNERSHIP.
2008: OFTEN HEARD FROM HANDS OFF MANAGEMENT, "WHY CAN'T THE WELD TEAM DO THEIR JOB"?
To often, managers and engineers are under the impression that they had carried out their weld shop responsibility, when they had approved the budgets for the robots - weld equipment expenditures for the weld department. Then the welds were left to the so called "weld team". By the way, from my perspective, when a weld team is required to deal with any weld issues, that simply reveals the company has UNQUALIFIED weld managers, engineers supervisors and technicians.
Please always remember that process control - best practice training is a necessity also for the front office personnel that have any role with the welding process.
MILL WRIGHTS, ELECTRICIANS, MECHANICAL OR ELECTRICAL ENGINEERS OFTEN MAKE WELD DECISIONS & WELD CHANGES WITHOUT A WELD PROCESS CONTROL EDUCATION:
To achieve partially acceptable robot welds, many companies especially in auto - truck plants placed a maintenance person or "mechanical or electrical engineer in charge of the welding robot weld lines, this individual often ends up as the unqualified "weld team leader". The company then wastes resources by placing skilled welders in the cell to operate a robot that provides the skills. Since the 1980s till the present (2014), most of robot programmers have had minimal weld process control expertise and in this manufacturing enviroment it's not unnusual to find the maintenance electricians, millwrights or robot operators will be the individuals that daily make the unqualified robot weld changes to so called pre-qualified welds.
LASERS AND WELD TRACKING?
THIS IS NOT WHAT YOU WILL READ IN THE ENGINEERING MAGAZINES, BUT THERE ARE FEW AUTO - TRUCK APPLICATIONS THAT WILL EVER ATTAIN REAL WORLD COST BENEFITS FROM LASER WELDS OR FROM ROBOT - LASER WELD TRACKING SYSTEMS.
In the automotive industry, where they can waste billions of dollars annualy on recalls, money for manufacturing equipment sometimes appears to come from a bottomless pit.
In this environment it's not difficult to understand why every conceivable bell and whistle is pushed by those selling the weld, laser and robot equipment.
Also in the hands off management - engineering enviroment, its easy to comprehend why unnecessary, costly robot weld equipment is purchased by those who believe that the more money you spend the less weld problems you will have in those robot cells.
I remember at the Ford truck plant in Detroit. When they purchased a multi-million million dollar robot MIG weld line, they also purchased every possible robot option including a costly laser weld vision system for each robot.
The Ford engineers figured they needed the laser tracking systems becasue they and their managers were not qualified or able to control the dimensions of the parts they presented to the robots. Within twelve weeks all the lasers were removed (approx. cost > $250.000.00). The high tech lasers were dumped in cardboard boxes and today they are still likely gathering dust in one of the plant's dark store rooms.
The reason the lasers were dumped, was no one in the plant could handle the highly technical issues that were derived when problems or corrections were generated by the lasers.
Good parts, good fixtures, good weld data, good process controls, simple touch sensing or through arc tracking, good TCP controls, trained personnel and knowledgeable hands on managers and engineers, these are the keys to optimum MIG weld automation.
2000: TRADE UNIONS, WELD SKILLS - EXPERTISE AND AUTOMATION.
Welding responsibility in many automotive plants is also affected by unions and their often "out dated seniority clauses" that end up putting the wrong man in the wrong job.
In many manufacturing plants with union employees, the unions and management would benefit by reviewing the union agreements from a "weld automation perspective". Many union personnel especially in the time period between 1980 - 2000, believed the delivery of robots into their plants to be a key cause of job losses. It took more than two decades for for these personnel to find out that the high volume manufacturing companies that adopted robots were the ones that retained the work and grow.
IN UNION PLANTS YOU WOULD THINK THAT IT WOULD BE A LOGICAL MANAGEMENT FUNCTION TO CORRECTLY DEFINE, THE ROBOT JOB DESCRIPTIONS OF BOTH THE PLANT AND FRONT OFFICE EMPLOYEES..
It was always simply illogical for any manufacturing plant that worked under a labor contract to have clauses in the labor requirements that hinder the success of weld automation. Unions who have struggled with weld automation are often influenced by corporate management that does not understand robot automation which brings us to management and job descriptions which are an extremely important tool in defining manufacturing accountability and responsibility.
I could ask ten plant managers in Chrysler, Ford and GM plants to define and provide the following job 5 job descriptions;
 a manual MIG welder,
 a MIG welding robot operator,
 a robot technician programmer,
 a plant weld engineer,
 a plant weld manager.
I would expect that nine out of the ten plant mangers will have provided inappropriate job descriptions.
Robot Weld Programmers and Weld Process Control Expertise:
 The required expertise to optimize a robot's MIG weld quality and productivity performance has never required a person with a university or college degree, it does however require a person who will have a combination of in-depth robot programming and has extensive weld process control and best weld practices expertise.
It's important that mangers be aware that they don't teach engineers what a company needs to know about robot MIG weld process controls at any college or university in North America, Europe or Japan. 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 and 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 manufacturers.
 Obtaining optimum robot weld quality - productivity is rarely influenced by the QA department manager or by his inspectors. In the majority of global manufacturing plants, the QA department inspectors who are critical of the weld quality will have never bothered to learn the practical weld process knowledge necessary to provide the weld solutions to their criticism. Surely it's much more cost effective to hire personnel that can prevent rather than find weld defects especially when that training requires less than 15 hrs and is available at this site for less than $400.
 Both 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 experience attained from the "manual weld practices" which means the information is tainted and inappropriate before it's delivered.
RIDICULOUS JAPANESE HIRING PRACTICES REVEAL SCREWED UP MANAGEMENT AND MFG PROCESS IGNORANCE.
2013: It's a been a common theme for at least two decades that in Japanese manufacturing plants they will only allow engineers with degrees to be in charge of their robots which has always been ridiculous (management ignorance) as the irony is their has never been any Japanese, USA or European universities that offered relevant robot weld process controls and best weld practices courses. Also keep in mind that for three decades, the majority of robots in the USA were run and controlled by technicians not engineers.
Note In over the 1000 plants I visited in 13 countries, I never met a USA or Japanese plant manager or HR director who understood the fundamental requirements for robot MIG weld process controls.
Here's a resolution to end those time consuming useless weld team meetings. "Some one get some balls and stand up and say, "the majority of robot weld issues are simply management Issues".
Understanding Job Descriptions - Best Weld Practices and Process Controls, starts out with "Qualified Managers - Engineers - Supervisors".
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, and one day all hell is going to break loose.
WHEN THE WELD ENGINEER AND TECHNICIANS HAVE TO REPORT TO UNION EMPLOYEES,
YOU KNOW YOU ARE IN A SCREWED UP AUTOMOTIVE PLANT OR IN A SHIP YARD
In 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 even shorter supply
The position advertisment was "Required, an engineer with robot and MIG weld process expertise. The engineer 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 add then went on to state that "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 any engineers". In this plant a reasonable question would be, "does the cart control the horse? I would make a bet that this companies mechanical or electrical engineers do not report to the union.
This sad add for a weld engineer is just another indication of the frequent lack of management process ownership and the lack of respect shown to the welding profession. This crap unfortunately is happening in too many auto plants.
Question: Ed, what about training, my company spends millions annually on training yet the extensive weld manufacturing issues seem to never end?
The management approach to weld training, and the effectiveness and quality of the training programs provided are key manufacturing issues. As an example, I was told a few years ago that Ford used to spend 40 - 50 million dollars annually on employee training. At at the Ford frame plant, you used to find that due to the numerous robot weld issues, the robot lines has work stations for the manual welders. The manual welders on the robot lines would try to repair or provide the welds missed to the fast paced line. this was an impossible task if the welds were to be correct. The frame parts moving along the robot line are too often poorly manufactured and typically have excessive weld gaps or the parts are misaligned. Both the robot and manual weld data are rarely optimum, and the majority of the robot competed frame welds will undergo further extensive manual weld rework at a later date.
At the Ford frame plant, the manual welders placed along side the robots were using "oversized poorly suited MIG wires", and using innapropriate weld data and weld techniques for their chewing gum weld fixes. I found one welder who did not even have a contact tip in his MIG gun, he just made the wire touch the grounded work creating a glow and sparks to impress the supervisors or managers as they passed by.
When the frames arrived at the end of the robot lines, the majority of the welds are rejected and then the frames are shipped to another part of the plant for later repairs.
The manual welders who work on the robot lines were then paid overtime to come in on the weekends to try to repair the frame welds. The reality is their poor manual weld repairs simply added to the weld issues and decreased the total frame structural integrity. This from a company who's management boast at how much they spend on training.
Instead of addressing the ford frame part gaps, the poor size weld consumable selected, the inadequate robot weld weld process settings, the lack of robot weld best practices and process controls, and the poorly trained manual MIG welders, the manufacturing managers and engineers at the Ford plant would daily vent their spleen and threaten the companies that provided robots and the fixtures.
Its worth repeating. For a management to solve manufacturing process issues the management and engineers require expertise with the processes and equipment utilized.
WELD DECISION MAKING AND RESPECT SHOULD START IN THE FRONT OFFICE.
You will find that most shop floor workers will increase their respect for management, supervisors, engineers and technicians when they see them rolling up their sleeves and striving to learn about the core weld processes and equipment that are critical to their company. With MIG welding this expertise has been simplified and is available simply by going through my self teaching MIG process control training - best practices resources.
ED'S MIG ROBOT WELD PROCESS CONTROL TRAINING BOOK / VIDEO WERE 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.
ROBOT CELL OPERATORS AND JOB DESCRIPTIONS: Few robot cell operators have a clearly defined job description. These personnel need to be able to carry out specific manufacturing and robot instructions like when contact tips and nozzles should be replaced. Operators should know they have the responsibility to provide house cleaning for the robots, fixtures and the cell, (a wise management should allocate time for this at the end of each shift). A person with weld process expertise would manually train the operators to understand what a change in weld "arc sounds means" and the resulting weld consequences that will occur in the robot cells. Operators must also be able to visually inspect the parts and welds understand what an acceptable weld and looks looks like. Operators should also each shift record in a robot weld cell log any issues that influenced the weld quality and productivity. Operators must also be trained on what they "must not do" to those pre-qualified welds.
APATHETIC. DESIGNERS OF ROBOT WELDED PARTS. If there is one profession that does not deserve respects in large volume manufacturing plants it's typically the designers of the welded parts. From my perspective its a disgrace that these university educated guys typically lack the fundamentals on the processes that they recommend to 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 MIG 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 resources available at this site, resources that will allows them to make their designs optimum parts for robot MIG welds.
HEADS BURIED IN THE SAND FIXTURE MAKERS: For companies that use robots one of the most difficult thing to find is a fixture builder that actually understands the robot MIG weld requirements for good weldability. 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. There is a time for group discussions and this 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 techniques and programming, that the fixtures will have protection from spatter, be durable and easy to clean and maintain.
IF YOU FEEL THE NEED FOR A ROBOT WELD TEAM. In contrast to many of the weld teams we now see in manufacturing facilities, this would be a team, comprised of the maintenance supervisor, the production supervisor, the robot programmer and someone who will get his hands dirty from the engineering office. The team would meet once a week to discuss the issues which have been well documented by the operators in the robot cell logs. As it' important for the team to all walk the same welding path, all the members will have received my best practices - process control training program.
These managers simply did not have a clue..
While employed as the robot weld manager with ABB, one of the world's largest suppliers of arc welding robots, I provided my unique "robot weld process training" for many of the top North American, fortune 50 manufacturing companies.
I found it amusing when doing the training to find that frequently automotive senior 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 or write. You would think that innovative manufacturing management that does not have their heads stuck up their rear ends would be aware that if there engineers could not fix the robot weld problems what hope would there be sending guys that cant read or study
After years being around robots, few engineers in the auto and truck industry have mastered the robot programming and process control requirements. These are the first people that should be in line to become experts on the processes and equipment that are vital to their organizations.
Sending poorly qualified individuals to robot training school is again simply a reflection of poor management practices and also reveals the level of their weld automation expertise.
Typically 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.
Weld 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 take ownership and optimize the daily robot welding production.
Its 2013 and I am still waiting. Perhaps one day an enlightened manufacturing management will encourage their engineers to learn to how to control the equipment that creates their profits.
HOW SOME ENGINEERS RESPOND TO THE ROBOT WELD ISSUES?
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.
In 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.
ENGINEERING DEFINED BY WEBSTER'S DICTIONARY.
"The 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
Another Management Perception:
There is a common perception again especially in the auto companies and with large fabricators that when it comes to manual MIG welding, many managers believe the requirements are nothing more than a body, a head, two eyes, two legs two arms and a few skills and lets not forget they should be able to play around with the weld controls.
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 robot equipment.
Lets not forget that the most ironic point about the common lack of MIG process expertise that prevails, is the "MIG process" attached to the robot arm has been around for more than five decades.
The following is an important point which will has to 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 best practices and process control theory which is necessary for all robot welds.
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.
THE IMPORTANCE OF A FUNDAMENTAL YET SIMPLE MIG WELD PROCESS QUESTION:
Without looking in a book, could anyone of the weld personnel in your organization tell you that when using either the common 0.045 or the 0.035 (1.2 - 1 mm) carbon steel MIG wires, what is the the wire feed rate, in./min, or m/min, in which Spray Transfer starts with an Argon 10 - 20% CO2 mix?
How important is this fundamental MIG question? Well as over 70 percent of all MIG welds are made with spray transfer, the question should be relevant, and you and I know that if 5 welders at your facility were asked this question, you would get 5 different answers with at least 4 of those answers incorrect.
So your company pays on average $50K a year for each welder's annual wage. You pay over $100k for each robot cell. You spent more than $250K last years on weld consumables and weld equipment. And $100K annualy is spent on grinding wheels. Yet it has never occurred to anyone in the company to pay $500 for a process control training program that would optimize the weld quality - productivity.
The sad Chrysler corporate managers andengineers & their multi-million dollar robot weld fiasco.
Back in the days before Chrysler was taken over by Fiat, just at the time it was heading towards bankrupcy, the following weld fiasco was caused by the Chrysler corporate weld engineer. As was common in the auto - truck industry, this corporate engineer lacked both hands on ability and weld process expertise.
A few years ago, a brand new, multi million dollar robot weld line was installed at a primary Chrysler stamping plant located near Cleveland OH. A new costly multi-robot line was placed in the plant to weld weld the Neon cross members. The stamping plant had no welding exoerience so the weld equipment and consumable decisions were made by the Chrysler corporate weld engineer. The Chrysler weld engineer had selected a large diameter, self shielded flux cored electrode manufactured by Lincoln Electric. The large wire selected was for welding very thin, galvanealed, cross member parts which were approx. 2 to 2.5 mm thick.
EVEN A BOY SCOUT COULD FIGURE OUT THAT WHEN SELECTING A WELD CONSUMABLE, THE WELD CURRENT RANGE OF A WIRE MUST BE COMPATABLE WITH THE PART THICKNESS:
The 5/64 diameter, flux cored wires selected by the Chrysler corporate weld engineer required a minimum 320 to 380 amps. The weld current range required by this large electrode was simply too much for the thin, gage, 2 mm cross member parts. Typically parts this thin should be welded with small diameter 0.035 (1mm) MIG wires using current in the range of 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 each cross member part that eventually 13 manual welders were required for the weld rework required on the robot parts each shift.
AN ENGINEER DOES NOT SELECT WELD WIRES THAT CREATE DANGEROUS WELD FUMES, EXCESS WELD SLAG AND HIGH POROSITY AND SPATTER:
The weld smoke from the obnoxious Lincoln flux cored consumables was so bad that even with exhaust units compressed air masks were necessary and because the fume issues were so bad. the manual repair welders could only weld for four hours before they had to be relieved by another crew. The slag produced by these wires was very difficult to remove which of course also effected that weld repairs and coatings required after the parts were welded.
Apart from the extensive weld burn through holes, the Neon parts also had excess spatter, excess porosity and undercut from the high weld heat. The weld defects were so extensive that the manual repair welders simply welded over the top of 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 excess weld heat from the additional welds also did not help the mechanical strength of these high strength steels, This robot welding fiasco went on for more than a year, with the repairs costing the plant approx. $750,000.00 per month for more than 12 months.
Chrysler employed many corporate VPS that were engineers. With the multi-million dollar losses on this project you think the corporate management would have stepped up to the plate. However as the subject was "welding" they choose not to question their inexperienced weld engineer's decision, even after the weld process evidence was provided to them.
CHRYSLER CORPORATE MANAGEMENT WERE GIVEN MY REPORT ON THEIR NEON ROBOT WELD ISSUES. FROM THE REPORT, EVEN THE MOST INEXPERIENCED VP AT CHRYSLER SHOULD HAVE ASKED;
Why did our corporate weld engineer allow the of weld consumables that are the root cause of our million dollar robot weld issues?
 WHY HAS OUR CORPORATE WELD ENGINEER ALLOWED WELD CONSUMABLES THAT PRODUCED DANGEROUS WELD FUMES?
 WHY HAS OUR CORPORATE WELD ENGINEER ALLOWED WELD CONSUMABLES THAT CONSUMABLE CANNOT CONSISTENTLY PROVIDE OPTIMUM WELD QUALITY?
 WHY HAS OUR CORPORATE WELD ENGINEER ALLOWED A WELD CONSUMABLE THAT CANNOT MAKE A WELD WITHOUT PRODUCING EXCESS SPATTER AND POROSITY ISSUES?
 WHY HAS OUR CORPORATE WELD ENGINEER ALLOWED A WELD CONSUMABLE WHICH GENERATES A WELD IN WHICH THE SLAG REMOVAL IS VERY DIFFICULT, INFLUENCING THE RUST PROTECTION COATING AND THE WELD REPAIRS?
 WHY HAS OUR CORPORATE WELD ENGINEER ALLOWED THE "SINGLE PASS" FLUX CORED WIRES TO BE USED FOR THESE WELDS WHICH WITH REPAIRS HAVE NOW BECOME A TWO WELD PASS APPLICATION. THE EXCESS ALLOYS AND EXCESS WELD HEAT FROM THESE WIRE CAN NOT BENEFIT OUR HIGH STRENGTH LOW ALLOY STEEL PARTS.
 WHY IS OUR CORPORATE WELD ENGINEER CONTINUE TO INSIST THAT THE LINCOLN ELECTRIC, SELF SHIELDED FLUX CORED WELD CONSUMABLE THAT IS COSTING ONE PLANT, WELD REWORK OF APPROX. >10 MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR, BE ALSO USED AT ALL OTHER PLANTS THAT ARE WELDING GALVANIZED OR GALVANEALED PARTS. ESPECIALLY WHEN ED'S REPORT POINTS OUT THAT FOR DECADES EVERY OTHER MAJOR AUTO PART MANUFACTURER HAS SUCCESSFULLY USED MIG CONSUMABLES AND ATTAIN FAR SUPERIOR WELD QUALITY - PRODUCTIVITY?
By the way, I was requested by the very frustrated Chrysler stamping plant manager to visit his plant and find the solution to his Neon robot weld problem. I knew the wires were wrong and that the engineer who selected them had one to many lunches with a consumable salesman. Rather than waste my breath arguing with the Chrysler corp. eng I suggested to the plant mgr that I would simply weld the parts with a robot using the MIG wire that should have been recommended for this application. I used an 0.035, E70S-3 MIG wire. In a few hours with the MIG process I was able to produce consistent, optimum weld quality - productivity results that would have required minimum weld rework. I then sent my galvanealed, robot MIG welded Neon parts to be tested at the largest weld testing facility in Detroit. The destructive and mechanical test proved that all the MIG welds met the destructive test mechanical requirements. My report also pointed out how the poor weld design effected the weld quality with the cross member parts.
I presented the test report and my weld report 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 Lincoln Electric "flux cored consumable type and size selected". After I left. extensive discussions took place with the Chrysler corporate engineering team, however the corporate weld engineer would not change his mind on the welding consumables used.
ENGINEERING COMMON SENSE, ENGINEERING RESPONSIBILITY - ENGINEERING ACCOUNTABILITY & PROCESS - EQUIPMENT OWNERSHIP, WERE NOT A CHRYSLER FUNCTION.
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 annual > 10 MILLION dollar weld fiasco. Shortly after the meeting, the Chrysler management did make a decision which they should have been ashamed. They decided that the two year old, multi-million robot line was shut down. The robots, the application, the jobs, and the oversized weld wires were moved to Mexico where the Neon weld quality - production and safety issues would be out of site of those corporate engineers.
THERE ARE MANY REASONS DURING THE 1990s, WHY THE USA LOST GOOD PAYING JOBS. WITH QUALIFIED ENGINEERS AND MANAGERS, WELL RUN ROBOT WELD LINES SHOULD BE LITTLE INFLUENCED BY LABOR COSTS, AND THEREFORE ROBOT JOBS SHOULD ALWAYS HAVE A PLACE IN NORTH AMERICA. IN THIS CASE CHRYSLER ENGINEERS PROVED THEY WERE NOT UP TO THE TASK OF EFFECTIVELY MANAGING A SIMPLE ROBOT WELD LINE WITH STATE OF THE ART ROBOTS AND FIXTURES. THE USA CHRYSLER JOBS ENDED UP IN MEXICO SIMPLY AS A RESULT OF ENGINEERING AND MANAGEMENT INCOMPETANCE AND LACK OF PROCESS EXPERTISE.
If the chrysler engineers involved had invested $500 in my robot weld program and spent 30 minutes in the flux cored section at this site they would have had the knowlege to have saved Chrysler 10 to 14 million dollars they must have wasted.
AT LEAST IN 2012 THERE IS NOW HOPE FOR CHRYSLER, THE SOLUTION IS CALLED FIAT.
WHEN THEY CANNOT GET RID OF THE CRUTCH, THE MANAGER MAY ASK WHICH MANUFACTURING METHOD SHOULD WE USE THIS MONTH?
In their quest to resolve those robot weld shop issues, many automotive manufacturing engineers get caught up with trendy manufacturing methods. The steel weld manufacturing industry is becoming notorious for it's reliance on confusing, unnecessary manufacturing practices and standards. These practices will change as soon as a new author has a book published on a new approach on how to get the welded parts from the east end of the plant and out the door at the west end.
IF THE RIGHT WELD QUESTIONS ARE NOT ASKED, THE WELD ISSUES NEVER GET RESOLVED AND THE MANAGERS CONTINUE TO TRY TO QUENCH THE FIRES..
The manufacturing manger has directed the HR person to look for a manufacturing engineer to work with the MIG welding robots. The HR requested that the individual must have experience with some of the following.
HR WANTS TO KNOW DO YOU HAVE EXPERIENCE WITH THE FOLLOWING? Dynamic Control Plans.
and last but not least
During the HR interview no one asks the engineer that will look after the MIG welding robots about his MIG Weld Process Control Expertise and his ability to provide Best Weld Practices for the robot weld lines.
As we are all aware, MIG welding is not rocket science. The bottom line in most plants, the steel comes in the rear door and then they;
[a] cut the steel,
[b] clean the steel,
[c] shape the steel,
[d] tack then weld the steel,
[e] examine and test the welded parts,
[f] clean and paint the parts,
[g] assemble the final product,
[h] test the final product,
[I] package and ship the product out of the door at the other
end of the plant.
When working through [a to I], as a manager responsible for manufacturing, its logical to employ practical individuals who know how to 'minimize material handling" The individuals will put "practical equipment" in place that will allow the "highest possible robot weld duty cycle each shift". The individuals will have the "ability to optimize the robot performance", and to "train the employees to optimize the equipment and processes required".
What manufacturing companies really need for robot weld process optimization, is to hire employees with the "necessary process expertise" and make sure the employees have a good dose of the best manufacturing asset an employee can have "practical common sense" .
Weld shifts and inconsistent weld results
Question. Ed, we find that with the second or third shifts the robot weld issues often increase. Many times the operators on these shifts cannot resolve the robot programming issues. The robot down time and weld rework from these two shifts can be extensive. How would you address these problems?
Ed's Reply. It's typical in many plants, that those with the most programming or process experience work on the first shift. It's rare to find auto / truck plants which have highly qualified individuals on all the shifts. The reality therefore in plants without effective weld process controls, is someone on the second or third shift is going to get into the robot program to try and rectify a welding issue. Once in the robot program its easy for someone without in-depth programming or process expertise to create more robot issues than they are trying to resolve.
The lack of in-depth, robot programming expertise is one reason companies should improve and extend the robot training provided. Also consider the use of custom PLC controls for simplifying the operation of a robot, so the operator does not have to go into the complex robot pendant. For example, the robot stops in the middle of the weld and your robot operator on the second shift has one of the following robot program options. The operator;
[a] wants the robot to continue from the welding point it stopped,
[b] wants the robot to go on to the next weld,
[c] wants the robot to go to the previous weld,
[d] wants the robot to go to the home position,
[e] wants the robot to go to the gun station for a nozzle clean then return to the next weld,
[f] wants the robot to go to the automatic tool center point for a TCP check and then start at the next weld,
[g] wants the robot to go to the next part.
[h] wants the positioner to rotate and start welding the next part.
Examine the above robot program options for the robot operator who does not have the expertise of the robot programmer, it can get complex. Here is a simple solution. Examine all the common daily programming issues that could occur for an operator on the second or third shift. I mentioned eight (a-h). Lets say you find thirty fundamental robot programming issues. If you do not have a high level of robot programming expertise on each shift, and you want the robot operators to have more control of the robot program, you could attain a PLC control, connect the PLC to the robot control and have the cutomized PLC keys address the primary issues.
With the PLC control, the next time the robot operator has a robot program issue they likely no longer need the intervention of the highly qualified programmer. For example, the robot has stopped in the middle of a weld and the operator wants the robot to go on to the next weld, sometimes a difficult robot command especially if the robot has to go to another part or the fixture positioner has to move. The operator walks up to the PLC control and simply presses the PLC [b] key, which denote robot go to next weld.
Of course when it comes to welded parts, with the high daily production demands in auto / truck plants and the too frequent lack of dimensional controls with stamped parts, the plant focus is typically placed on weld productivity rather than on the weld quality. This focus can have a tremendous negative impact on the a shop floor welding culture and will continue to be a liability and recall concern.
All managers should recognize the following fundamental fact, and hammer it home to all plant welding personnel.
It takes less time to produce a robot welded part that does not require weld rework, than it does to weld a part that ends up in the scrap or rework pallet.
DOING IT RIGHT HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE QUICKEST WAY.
From my perspective I found it completely illogical that any corporate or plant management would allow "inexperienced, hands off engineers to influence their companies reputation and profits.
I WONDER WHY A WELD CONSUMABLE MFG WOULD RECOMMEND A WELD WIRE THAT ONLY IT MAKES? THIS IS ONE OF THOSE QUESTIONS THAT PROVIDES IT'S OWN ANSWER.
It's a common weld consumable sales tactic by some weld wire manufacturers and suppliers to try and promote their so called unique name brand weld wire. This weld consumable when targeted at a plant or corporation such as Chryslers that will purchase large amounts of weld wires, ensures that once purchased the wire is in the system and 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 hits that company.
E-mail: From England.
Ed. I have just read your Chrysler Neon article regarding the Cross members 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 their 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 weld process knowledge and experience with the majority of the weld 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.
Cheers Ed. PL - England.
LET THE ROBOT TEAM BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE NONE RELATED WELD PROBLEMS LIKE PART FIT, PART CLEANLINESS, STOCK, FIXTURE OR CELL ISSUES, AND LEAVE THE BLOODY WELD ISSUES TO THE WELD PROCESS CONTROL EXPERT.
The majority of welding issues that can occur with a robot MIG weld are discussed on this site, or in my books and training programs . 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.
Being 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 costs.
* Being an active partner in process and equipment ownership means the management and engineers are focused on placing "weld process controls" on the shop floor.
* 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.
A KIS MESSAGE FOR MANAGERS - ENGINEERS:
The yearly review and job descriptions of engineers who work with robots should clearly encourage engineers to take a pre 1980's 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.
If 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 my books.
IT'S NOT ALL ABOUT THE AUTO INDUSTRY:
Question: What does a ship yard and automotive plant have in common?
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.
Management 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] a production worker,
[b] a robot operator,
[c] a production welder,
[d] a maintenance person,
[e] a robot programmer,
[f] a weld process expert,
[g] a robot weld process expert.
AT THE END OF THE DAY THE WELD INDUSTRY WOULD BENEFIT IF ALL FACTORIES WERE MANAGED NOT LIKE A SHIP YARD, BUT LIKE A WELL RUN SHIP:
Its unfortunate that the trend in weld manufacturing in the last two decades has been "hands off, inexperienced managers and engineers". In contrast examine the ship factories at sea. A good ship's captain or any of the ship's engineers typically could operate or take apart anything on their ship. I am not suggesting that this radical, hands on, 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 generate their pay check.
Managers, to get manufacturing management and engineers back into the equipment process ownership loop, an important first step would be to show the workers that you at least have some MIG process knowledge. Try this book. "A Management and Engineers Guide To MIG"
The $500 cost of robot 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?
I 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.
WHILE WE EXPECT ONLY LIES FROM THE WASHINGTON POLITICIANS.
In engineering we should only deal with the truth. Ed Craig 2000.
Keep Smiling, at $10 / hr you should be able to retire at 90.
Go to Eds Training Programs.
Or back to all www.weldreality programs
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