following weld application is a description of a robot weld management disaster
and how a big three weld engineer along with some good old weld product salesmanship
had dramatic cost repercussions for both Chrysler and it's part suppliers. This
unique robot weld application is an indication of the costly damage that can result
from apathetic engineering management and unqualified engineers, individuals who
lack the ability to or take ownership of their equipment or responsibility for
their weld process decisions.
was late 1995: The Chrysler Twinsburg plant manager had requested that I assist
him with a major robot weld issue 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 have to be a top gun manufacturing manager to manage Chrysler's
prime Minivan stamping facility.
Looking very frustrated with his plant's
robot weld issues, the Chrysler manager informed me that in the past his plant
had not been involved with "robot welds" and the issues on his newly
installed robot line were making him ill.
new multi-million dollar robot line was set up in his plant to weld Neon cross
member parts. The plant manager informed me that the robot cell quality / production
issues on this line was costing his plant > $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
approx. 10 million dollars.
DESIGN AND POOR WELD MANAGEMENT: The Neon steel cross member parts to be welded,
ranged from 1.5 to 2 mm thick. From a weld
perspective I pointed out to the Chrysler team that the overlap parts were poorly
designed. The cross member parts were made out of two sections that overlapped,
as indicated in the left sketch. In the robot welded, continuos lap seam joint,
the 1.5 mm section became the weld base of the horizontal welded joint. A simple
fact that few Chrysler designers were aware of, it's much more difficult to create
weld burn through a 2 mm part than it is to burn through a part 1.5 mm, especially
when you use large weld wires and have poor joint fit and weld gaps up to 4 mm.
This common weld design oversight, along with the incorrect selection of weld
consumables selected contributed to the extensive weld burn through.
SELECTION OF SOME OF THE WORST WELDING CONSUMABLES AVAILABLE: The welded parts
were "galvanealed". To weld the parts the Chrysler corporate weld engineer
had selected a variety of self shielded wires. The self shielding wires utilized
were Lincoln, E71T-G (NR 212) and NR 211 wires. The weld wire size
available at that time was 5/64 wire. The
Lincoln Electric plant that made the wires was less than 20 miles away and Lincoln
was involved in the decision to utilize this weld wire. The
self shielded flux cored weld wire selected for the very thin cross members were
large and required a weld current range of 280 to 350 amps.
Note. Approx. 320 - 330 amps
is the optimum current for this size weld wire. The high weld current required
for this wire had more in common with robot welding steel applications > 1/4
(> 6 mm) thick, rather than welding thin gage parts 1.5 mm with gaps.
THE LACK OF ABILITY TO MAKE PARTS TO THE DESIGN TOLERANCES. When the top part
and bottom part of the new stamped cross member components were joined together,
were extensive weld gaps typically 2 to 4 mm
between the parts. Possibly the
self shielded weld wire was initially selected as its a "straight polarity"
weld wire in which most the weld heat goes into the part rather than to the wire
as it does with reverse polarity. Keep in mind with this
type of weld wire, only large wire sizes were available. What the Chrysler engineer
did not appear to realize, that irrespective of the weld polarity of a weld consumable,
a thin gage part retains a great portion of it's weld heat and therefore can only
take so much weld current. The bottom line, as
any weld technician with six months experience would have known, the 280 - 320
amps and the 1.5 mm steels were simply not compatible.
or not, the large self shielded weld consumable was the wire selected by the Chrysler
weld engineer for the robot line. It's interesting to note that at that time,
this weld wire was not marketed by any wire manufacture including Lincoln as a
weld wire designed specifically for "thin galvanealed
or galvanized parts".
high weld current required by the 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 weld personnel to manually weld
over the entire robot flux cored welds. The welding fumes and conditions were
so bad at the end of the robot line that the MANUAL REPAIR WELDERS HAD TO WEAR
FRESH AIR BREATHING MASKS and due to health concerns the management had to rotate
the manual repair welders every four hours. The
picture above right
the right, shows the typical weld fumes generated by the
Lincoln self shielded flux core wires when exhaust equipment is not used.
this poor excuse for a weld wire was embedded in the Chrysler plant, the 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 steel galvanealed applications".
From that day onwards he was committed to that incorrect, multi million statement
and for years to come all Chrysler part suppliers had to weld galvanealed parts
with this unsuitable weld consumable.
daily weld rework on the Chrysler Neon cross members was often 100% and the weld
reject rate of the robot sub assembly parts averaged 60 to 100%.
THE INFLUENCE OF SALESMANSHIP ON AN INDUSTRY THAT 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 welding galvanealed
applications, Lincoln changed it's self shielding sales literature to read
self shielded flux cored wires is developed for single and multiple
pass, semiautomatic and automatic welding of mild steel, sheet metal, plate and
any weld metallurgical justification, Lincoln changed it's self shielded marketing
for the consumables in question and 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.
IS A REASON YOU HAVE TO CLICK ON A BULL TO ENTER THIS WEB SITE: Some weld consumable
manufacturers, (not all) will recommend a weld consumable that their competitors
do not sell. Typically this 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 want ownership of the weld processes in their
plants, once a weld consumable is selected, it's typically embedded in concrete
and could be used for decades.
Any reputable welding technician and Lincoln has a few, would be aware that irrespective
of the weld polarity utilized, > 300 plus amps is simply not compatible with
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 the choice of the weld wire has cost his company and part suppliers
millions in weld rejects and rework.
the right is a picture of the self shielded flux cored weld. Its a pity people
who buy cars don't get to see the welds that hold their cars together.
majority of the self shielded robot welds were full of weld burn through holes
and had welds that were coated with a surface weld slag. The
parts with the weld defects were not cleaned before the
second manual repair pass was made.
Note the heavily contaminated
weld slag that occurs with these welds. To try to remove this slag from the robot
weld surface was a hopeless task as the tenacious slag was influenced by the high
weld current used and it was almost impossible to remove. Due
to the weld conditions, weld alloy and impurities content and surface slag formed,
no process or consumable was suited to make the manual weld repairs, however the
repairs were made with the same weld self shielded wires.
junior weld technician that has anything to do with welding 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 did not seem concerned.
IT WAS NOT A SMALL WELD REPAIR: As the robot weld burn through was so
extensive around the cross member seam weld that held the two cross member parts
together, the manual repair welders would frequently weld around the complete
cross member seam. In most instances the manual welders wearing breathing masks
would make a repair welds approx. 100 inches long.
second pass, manual repair welds were made over the total robot seam weld. 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 try this data.
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.
Neon 1998 Injury, Collision, Indicators
Injury Index 131. This is substantially
worse than average score of 100.
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.
March 2005. After a decade of self shielded flux cored,
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.
APPEARANCE: The manual repair welds were made on top of defective welds that either
burnt through, had lack of weld fusion and extensive porosity and entrapped weld
slag. Off course the resulting welds would have poor mechanical and fatigue properties.
that anyone seemed to care but the finished weld quality on this project would
be frowned on in a third world country weld shop,
(ironically this project did end up in a plant in Mexico).
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.
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
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
 The self
shielded wire more than doubled the production time required to produce the parts.
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.
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 can also create a safety hazard.
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 these weld consumables.
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. Perhaps one day a
knowledgeable person in the plant that uses these products will pick up the dusty,
rarely opened MSD specifications for these weld wires and become aware of the
potential weld fume safety issues.
The sad part about making worker use
these products is that the self shielded wires were not necessary for the application
in the first place. These 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 provide greater weld quality and productivity
CHRYSLER GOES ONE DIRECTION. THE REST OF THE WELD
WORLD GOES THE OTHER:
the way, if the self shielded products could achieve what the Chrysler
corporate engineer claimed and Lincoln
Electric 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
CHRYSLER PLANT MANAGER WANTED A PROPOSAL TO HIS COSTLY ROBOT WELDING ISSUES:
The frustrated and very tense Chrysler plant manager informed me
he had little respect for the weld advice coming from his corporate center. He
asked if I would present a proposal to the corporate engineering team responsible
and rectify the costly robot weld problems for the welded cross members.
ROBOT WELD ISSUES, YOU FIRST HAVE TO RESOLVE THE PEOPLE ISSUES. I knew it would
be a difficult task to convince the engineer who had made the weld wire decision,
to admit that he had made a multi-million mistake about a simple two control weld
process. I therefore proposed to the plant manager that
rather than waste time trying to cut through egos in denial or have exhaustive
discussions with inexperienced individuals, I would present to the Chrysler corporation
engineering team responsible for the Neon cross members, the following
would simply MIG weld the parts with a robot using both the MIG and self shielded
flux cored process and let the resulting mechanical tests, weld quality and productivity
data from an outside, unbiased, testing agency speak for itself.
For the welds on the cross member parts, I would utilize
a reputable Detroit testing agency. The weld test data would be taken from both
the MIG and self shielding welds. The report would provide micro / macro weld
and HAZ samples. Appropriate hardness tests for welds and HAZ and tensile tests.
THE NEW NEON CROSS MEMBER WELD PROCEDURE: I robot welded the Neon cross member
parts using the common E70S-3, and 0.045 and 0.035 (1.2 -1 mm) MIG wires. I selected
the 70S- 3 as it has lower silicon and manganese than the E70S-6 MIG wire, (less
alloy reactions with the galvanealed).
THE AUTO INDUSTRY HAS FOR DECADES
BEEN MAKING INCORRECT WELD WIRE DECISIONS. The E70S-6 MIG wire has for three decades
mistakenly been used throughout the global auto and 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.
For some of the the robot cross member project welds, I
used the E70S-3, MIG weld wire and argon - 10% CO2 in the spray transfer mode
in the 200 to 220 amp range, much lower than the 280 plus amps used with the self
shielded wires. With the robot welds I also used the short circuit process using
160 to 180 amps which was beneficial on the parts where the weld gaps were most
sever. In less than 5 days I eliminated the majority of the weld burn through
issues, established the required robot cross member and sub assembly procedures.
It took another week for the Detroit Testing Agency to provide the weld test results.
UNBIASED WELD TEST REPORT THAT SHOULD HAVE CONVINCED A RATIONAL ENGINEER:
sent the Detroit Testing agency both the new MIG cross member samples on the galvanealed
parts and the self shielded weld samples. The resulting weld test report
indicated that in contrast to the self shielded wires, all the MIG
welds provided superior weld / mechanical
results and the MIG welds all passed the mechanical
destructive and CDT tests with flying colors.
With the Chrysler
MIG robot welded parts and weld report in the back of the car I went back to the
Chrysler Corporate Center and presented the results in an extensive report to
all the engineers on the cross member team. I placed the new welded parts on the
table the 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 increased the robot weld speed and resulting weld productivity
by 30%. I also reduced the total weld rework from
100% to an anticipated 8%. Yes some weld rework was
still required due to the poor part fit and excess weld gaps < 4 mm in the
weld solutions I presented at the Chrysler meeting in January 1996, would immediately
save Chrysler approx. $800,000 per
month and increase the cross member robot weld productivity by 30%.
All the weld data presented at this meeting indicated that the primary issue was
with the weld process and consumables selected. The
poor part fit issues could be addressed with a possible die change which the engineers
informed me was in the budget.
Chrysler corporate management who managed the engineers responsible for the parts
received the 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 anyone can understand. The
new MIG test weld data was very well received by the Chrysler plant manager and
by all the corporate, cross member team except by one individual, "the Chrysler
weld engineer". I thought the battle was over, however
it turned out to be a battle I never would win.
DENIAL: After I left, I found out that the Chrysler weld engineer denied that
the problem was with his wire selection and insisted that the self shielded wires
had to be used to compensate for the galvanealed coating. His peers ALL HIGHLY
TRAINED ENGINEERS had all seen the engineering evidence necessary to know that
the wrong process had been used, however they simply did not have the balls to
stand up to the weld engineer and let him have his way.
obvious the Chrysler weld engineer was not interested in the success of the MIG
process on his companies parts. It's evident he was concerned about protecting
his "credibility" as an engineer. Lets face it, who wants it known that
you are the individual that's responsible for a the multi-million dollar loss
for your corporation.
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
After 15 pus million dollars lost to rework and rejects, the President of Chrysler
decided that his less than two year old, state of the art, multi-million dollar,
cross member weld line was a project he wanted buried and therefore did what many
Detroit executives have done in the past. Rather than fire his weld engineer,
the Chrysler president "gave up on the project" and made the brilliant
management engineering decision to sweep his robot weld issues under a rug located
president of Chrysler decided that the new state of the art robot line in his
Ohio plant should be shut down. The new robots, the million dollar fixtures and
what should have been a simple common weld application that would have been welded
with ease using MIG, would now be moved south to Mexico.
I suppose the
Chrysler president anticipated that in Mexico there would be less objections to
the use of the self shielded wires and of course less concern for the manual weld
repair costs and the safety and environmental issues. Mexico can thank America
for many jobs, but this is not one of them.
the way I later visited the plant in Mexico where these part were being made.
It was the same weld mess, only instead of a providing a new die that provided
parts that fit to the design tolerances the plant provided the Mexican workers
with "hammers". The welds were still full of holes and still made with
the same consumables, only this time I did not see workers using fresh air helmets
when doing the manual welds.
EVIDENCE THIS TIME FROM A LITTLE COMPANY CALLED US STEEL:
Its 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 he had not been promoted to some
I was back at Chrysler in a consultant roll to discuss another
galvaneal project handled by a tier one supplier. I was basically talking to many
of the same Chrysler engineering group. This time I represented a supplier who
was loosing over $250,000 annually because he was made to use the same self shielded
wires on some small galvanealed parts. At this meeting new
weld test data was presented along with an unusual letter that I had attained
from a company that knows a little about steel components, the letter was from
The US Steel Corporation makes most of the high strength galvanealed steels sold
in North America. In the letter which was addressed to Chrysler, the US Steel
chief metallurgist recommended that the MIG process rather than the self shielded
SS process be used for the coated steel applications. Again the data we 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 was fed up with dealing with suppliers
who had many complaints against the use of the self shielded flux cored weld wires.
The Chrysler Corporate Purchasing manager chaired the weld meeting and he did
not looking pleased with his weld engineer.
I was not aware till some
of the engineers informed me that It seems over the years the purchasing manager
had to attend too many of these self shielded weld wire meetings with many other
disgruntled tier suppliers. 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 reduction
and yet over and over he had seen the engineering team turn their backs on engineering
At the end of the day these Lincoln self shielded weld wire meetings
always got bogged down as the weld engineer would stand his ground and would not
back down on his process decision. This meeting as with the 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 self
shielded weld consumables. This report also took a further step in the examination
of "fatigue properties". The report dealt with crash weld test data
and showed their were unusual weld failure issues occurring with the self shielded
wire welds, while all the MIG welds passed the tests. With all the evidence the
Chrysler weld engineer would again not allow the change to MIG.
supplier who used the self shielded products and bought the related weld issues
and considerable cost savings from the MIG process to the table for Chrysler was
shot down by the Chrysler weld engineer.
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 Lincoln 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,
weld fumes that should be considered a hazard.
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.
with excess porosity and slag inclusions will lower fatigue and impact properties.
[h] welds in which quality weld repairs will always be suspect.