Welders Experience Benefits of Dual Operator Welding Systems at Lambeau Field Expansion
Dual operator engine-driven welder/generators provide two welding outputs in one machine, getting more work done with less equipment on site and simplifying overall operation.
Reader’s note: This is the third in a series of articles detailing the expansion of Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. — home to the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League. Miller and Hobart Brothers have been named as the Official Welding Equipment Provider for the Lambeau Field Expansion by the Green Bay Packers. Through a partnership with Miron Construction Co., Inc. — the Official Provider of Construction Services for the Green Bay Packers and Lambeau Field — Miller and Hobart Brothers have worked to bring the latest in welding technology to the site. Stay tuned to MillerWelds.com/Lambeau for more articles, photos and videos through the rest of the summer and into the fall.
For the first article in the series on converting to Flux Cored welding, click here.
For the second article in the series on portable fume extraction equipment, click here.
In this article, we’ll specifically look at the use of two engine-driven dual-operator welding systems: the Big Blue® 450 Duo CST and the Big Blue® 700 Duo Pro. Each system provides more than enough welding and generator power to meet the work demands on site while offering a number of key benefits associated with having two welding outputs in one machine:
- Improved productivity by doubling the welding output of a single machine
- Lower total cost of ownership than two separate machines
- Less equipment to transport and move around a site
- Noise reduction compared to multiple units
- Reduced emissions compared to multiple units
- Reduced maintenance costs
Steel Reinforcements and the Benefits of Dual Operator Systems
Miron Construction began work on reinforcing existing steel structures at Lambeau Field in September 2011. Work ramped up in January as the regular season ended and crews were able to remove the old scoreboards. The North End Zone construction revolved around the addition of a massive elevator shaft for six new elevators, the new party deck that sits on top the stadium roof, and the new Mitsubishi Diamond Vision Video Board.
The work in the South End Zone is even more extensive: to support the structures for the new video board and the new seating, an additional bay was added to the existing bowl and seven new levels were built on top of the existing three levels. This is where the majority of the added seating will be, as well as indoor shops and concessions. It also required major reinforcement of the existing steel columns.
This reinforcement included enhancing column base plates at the footings and adding plating and bar stock to the 3 levels of existing columns. Enhancing the bases involved adding 2-inch plate steel to the existing base. Steel plating 2.5-inches thick was added to some columns, while bar stock (2.5 x 2.5-inches and 5 x 5-inches) was added to others. With this came the need for extensive welding, as well as the ability to run a variety of ancillary tools such as grinders, lights and fume extractors. Engine-driven welder/generators are used extensively in these applications to provide both welding and power capabilities — but the Lambeau Field expansion provided an opportunity to showcase the benefits of Miller-exclusive dual-operator machines that provide two separate industrial-grade welding arcs in a single unit. With dozens of welders working at the same time, this provided a number of efficiencies.
The Big Blue 700 Duo Pro used by Miron Construction on this site offers two independent welding arcs up to 400 amps (no interaction between the arcs), and the ability to parallel both independent welding outputs to create 800 amps of welding output for running large electrodes, stud welding and carbon arc gouging (up to 3/8-inch carbons). It also offers two independent generator outputs. One 5,500-watt-peak/4,000-watt-continuous single-phase generator is fully independent of weld output and offers peak performance even when welding at 700 amps (no interaction between arc and generator). The second generator (27,000 watts peak/20,000 watts continuous) provides more robust power for high power needs on site. The machine is also compatible with SuitCase-style wire feeders for contractors who may also perform MIG and Flux Cored welding.
The Big Blue 450 Duo CST is a dual-operator diesel engine-driven welding generator that features two independent CST 280 Stick/TIG inverters and 12,000 watts of continuous three-phase power. The machine offers two independent 200-amp welding outputs at 100 percent duty cycle or can also be paralleled to offer 400 amps of welding output. Both machines offer excellent Stick welding performance on the 7018 Stick electrodes being used on this site.
The key word when analyzing the output performance of these two machines is “independent”. Both offer two welding arcs and generator power completely independent from the other, which means that all machine functions can be used at full capacity without concerns for interaction or loss of performance.
“You don’t notice any of the arc crossing,” says Jake Wirkuty, an ironworker with Miron Construction Co., Inc. “Everything has been running smooth. The amps haven’t been fluctuating with the grinders running or both welding at the same time. It’s been able to stay steady.”
Both machines offer quieter operation than two standalone units and run at a low 1,800 RPM. This helps conserve fuel and reduce noise on the site.
“The machine (the Big Blue 700 Duo Pro) is twice as quiet as a lot of the machines out there,” says Wirkuty. “It benefits for the guys being around, you don’t have to listen to that all day, especially when you’re sitting in one place just welding and especially when you get into more populated areas that are still inhabited by office people.”
The greatest benefits may be in the lower total cost of operation. A dual-operator system offers a lower capital investment, reduces overhead and associated maintenance costs, and can retain a higher resale value than two separate machines. A dual-operator system can also reduce fuel use by as much as 35 percent over two comparable independent machines, saving hundreds of dollars annually and potentially more based on use.
“It is superb on fuel consumption,” says Wirkuty, “we’ve been able to run it anywhere from 31 to about 38 hours without having to fill it up, so about once a week.”
When taking all of these factors into consideration, Miron Construction sees these units as an excellent addition on larger projects like the Lambeau Field expansion.
“The advantage of a machine like this is it’s handy that, when you have to set up and move so many times during the day or week, that you don’t have to try and carry two welders around,” says Wirkuty “and it’s able to run all of the grinders and lights you need. It definitely simplifies it a lot. You’re not trying to truck as much up or order as much from the yard, and it’s just easier to get here, easier to set up.”
“You’ve got two guys welding, you can go to a location and set it up and both do the work on both sides of the column and work all the way up,” says Daryl Wanner, an ironworker with Miron Construction Co., Inc. “You’re going to use less fuel and have less time setting it up so that you can go on to your project and get it done on time.”
A Miron employee welds on the base of a column at the Lambeau Field Expansion.
The ability for two welders to work off of one machine helps save fuel and minimizes the total number of machines required on site.
Welders with Miron use the Big Blue 450 Duo CST dual-operator welder/generator
A progress shot of the South End Zone at the Lambeau Field Expansion.
An external view of the South End Zone at the Lambeau Field expansion
The North End Zone at the Lambeau Field Expansion
Another view of the South End Zone construction at Lambeau Field