Welding is simply joining together similar metal materials using similar metal filler materials. While it may, in theory, seem simple, it’s a complex beast. It’s a multifaceted and ever-evolving trade, career, science, hobby, and art form. It’s integral to our everyday lives—to the bridges we drive over, the pipes we drink water from, the skyscrapers we work in, the cars we drive, the bicycles we ride, you name it. Welding is all around us. For those in the welding business, reducing costs may be easier than you think with the right metal fabrication tools.
Small Errors Cost More Than You Think
Fabrication shops, welding shops, and machine shops all have something in common. They all spend exorbitant amounts of money on labor and materials. Reducing these costs can have an instantaneous positive effect on any company’s bottom line. Making one simple addition to the shop floor can simultaneously impact labor and material costs.
When completing a fillet weld, joining two parts to form a perpendicular corner piece, it can take less than a minute if the two pieces being joined are accurately cut ahead of time. But the fact of the matter is that sawyers don’t always cut parts accurately, which can be a welder’s worst nightmare. For example, you sawyer could be having difficulty reading his tape measure and cut a part that’s off by a ¼ inch. Now, that same exact fillet can take several minutes to weld.
A welder’s job is simply to join two parts. But when those two parts aren’t cut accurately, the gaps to fill are widened. This benign-sounding mistake has enormous repercussions. The welder now has to spend more labor hours filling gaps, he has to use a greater amount of welding wire, and he, in turn, wastes more precious gas fuel to feed his torch. And we are only talking about being ¼ of an inch off.
The Actual Impact on Your Bottom-Line
Depending on the amount of welding being performed a day—those several extra minutes spent filling each additional ¼-inch inaccuracy translates into hours of time per day. If a welder is making $20 an hour, this number adds up incredibly quickly over the span of weeks and months … even years. If he has 30 fillet welds to perform that each takes 2 minutes = 60 minutes per day, or $20 per day. Times 5 days a week = $100 a week. Times 52 weeks in a year … that’s nearly $5,200 a year. And we are only talking about 30 fillet welds a day, folks.
It becomes even more expensive when you factor in the cost of welding wire, which is being used up more quickly at $75 to $100 for a 33-pound spool, as well as gas, which can cost between $40 and $60 a tank to refill.
It’s important for your business to understand all of the above associated welding costs. Once you realize how expensive it is to spend extra time welding gaps due to parts being cut incorrectly, you can devise a solution to correct the problem. It’s also helpful to understand all of the costs so that your business can bid jobs accurately.
Hester Fabrication’s Handrail Project
We spoke to Daniel Hester of Hester Fabrication, who can attest to the importance of part accuracy for welding. Daniel is currently in the process of completing a large guardrail project requiring over 1 mile of rail to be cut and welded together. Having the right metal fabrication tools is critical for the project.
“Hester Fabrication is currently in the middle of a giant rail job and we are using our TigerStop automated pusher hard every day,” says Daniel.
“There is no question that the accuracy of the cuts improves our fabrication time significantly. Having a consistent fit-up of our parts means that the welders are able to optimize their weld technique, which increases our cycle times dramatically.”
“Another thing that a consistently tight fit-up gives us is the ability to minimize the amount of consumables that we use. For us that means weld wire, and other welding consumables, but it also means grinding disks, and time spent grinding non-conforming welds. The TigerStop definitely helps us spend less to get to the final product.”
Hester Fabrication’s job involves cutting over 5,280 feet of railing, so you can only imagine how much welding time they’re saving by ensuring every single piece is cut accurately. Not only will this save on welding time, it will expedite every single process after, including sandblasting, powder coating, quality control, and eventually shipping the product out the door. Hester Fabrication’s entire production flow will be positively affected thanks to their manufacturing process starting off on the right foot, or shall we say, the right cut.
Learn more about TigerStop products for your welding shop.