Tech Talk: Advancing Technology For Simplicity, Productivity
(As seen in Applied Welding, Issue 3, 2003)
Q: What are the biggest changes you’ve seen at Miller?
A: A focus on putting customers first and understanding how we can respond to their needs. This then translates into the development of innovative welding processes and products that helps them put more parts in the bucket at the end of the day. That means we need to improve travel speed, reduce spatter, burn-;through and re-work, and eliminate quality problems. Some examples include: Axcess™ and its Accu-Pulse™ and RMD processes, the Summit Arc 1000™ and Variable Balance AC Squarewave for Sub Arc and the XMT® 350.
The XMT 350 is the next level up from the XMT 304 CC/CV inverter. The XMT set the industry standard for a multiple process power source that offered uncompromising MIG arc characteristics. Miller enhanced those benefits with the XMT 350, which adds Auto-Line™ along with short circuit MIG and inductance characteristics that help in applications such as thin gauge stainless steel.
For applications that require portability, Miller keeps shrinking the size and weight of its inverters, yet they’re very reliable.
Look at the new Maxstar® 150—it weighs less than 14 lbs. (compared to the old Maxstar 152 at 31 lbs.) and has the power to run a 1/8-in. E7018 rod off 115 V primary. The Dynasty® 200 weighs just 47 lbs. (about half the weight of Dynasty 300), yet it has the power to weld 3/8-in. thick aluminum in a single pass.
Q: What is the driving force behind Miller’s technology efforts?
A: It may seem contrary, but one of our most important efforts for advancing technology involves simplifying the operator interface to reduce training needs. For example, the Syncrowave® TIG machine recalls the prior setting when switching between AC and DC welding outputs. We also want products to be easy top order and simple to set up for the distributor. That’s why the TIGRunner® and MIGRunner® packages are ordered with a single part number and arrive already assembled and on running gear.
Q: Does new technology always mean an inverter?
A: No, it means the right technology for the job. For example, there is an industrial manufacturing segment that does not care about size, weight, portability or advanced processes. They want to buy a low cost, good performing, high output welder and expect it to last 15 years. That’s why we introduced no-frills products like the Delta-Fab™ MIG system and SRH-503 for Stick and carbon arc gouging. However, I would like to note that even a simple machine like the SRH features a very clever patented magnetics system that gives the operator good, finite control of amperage.
Q: What are the three factors most influencing the welding industry today?
A: The economy, the need for trained welders and shortage of welding engineering graduates.
To help businesses stay competitive, we focus on engineering products and processes that improve productivity and quality. As for trained welders, we encourage people to get involved with a school like the Hobart Institute of Welding Technology (www.HIWT.org), which can design a curriculum specifically for your operation. At the same time, Miller will continue to support programs at the vocational and engineering level.
Q: What issue does the industry need to most address to ensure a profitable future?
A: Companies need to understand all the factors influencing welding costs. So often they focus on consumables and labor costs and fail to examine their processes. They don’t realize that operators are over-welding a joint, producing scrap due to poor fit-up from worn tooling or not paying attention to other basics. Once companies understand total cost, then they can look at solutions such as automation, using metal cored wire or simplifying the part design.
And on that note, manufacturers need to align themselves more closely with parts designers. Quite often, they overlook design-for-manufacturing principles that would reduce welding costs. Manufacturing and engineering need to work together at the beginning of the product life cycle, not at the end when making changes becomes too costly.