Field of Dreams
Take a look at how Wisconsin fabricator High Tech Welding uses a portable all-in-one multiprocess power source to gain versatility and increase their welding productivity by 25 to 30 percent on field repair and fabrication jobs.
When welding in the field, versatility is key, especially for companies that are never quite sure what projects they’ll encounter day-to-day. But to thrive at these tasks, it’s also critical to evolve with industry demands and have an open mind. High Tech Welding knows that all quite well.
What began as a motorcycle fabrication shop in the 1970s has evolved over the years into a fabrication shop focused on building wrought iron furniture to what it is today: a business focused on farm equipment, local plant and power piping repairs, as well as custom jobs. As support to their past and current success, welding operators like Greg Carlton hold certifications in multiple processes, materials and codes, and follow technology trends closely to ensure they are at the cutting edge to provide more cost-effective, higher-quality services than their competitors in the Westfield, WI, area.
According to Carlton, having the right equipment is the biggest contributing factor behind their ability to maintain high quality levels, meet their customers’ stringent requirements and deadlines, and maintain an acceptable profit level.
“We are very well known for the quality of work that we do,” he explains. “And the quality of the work that we are capable of is completely due to the quality equipment we have in the shop. We stake our livelihood on it. It also means we don’t have to pass any extra costs on to our customers.”
Here is an in-depth walk-around of the Multimatic™ 200.
In the past year, Carlton and the others at High Tech Welding have turned to the Miller Multimatic 200 all-in-one multiprocess power source as a means to achieve that quality, as well to increase productivity on their field applications. In that time, he and his team have found the machine’s ease of use, multiprocess capability and portability to be key factors in increasing their efficiencies — to the tune of 25 to 30 percent, by his own estimate.
VERSATILE EQUIPMENT REDUCES DOWNTIME, EASES SET UP
The Multimatic 200 is an all-in-one, portable, multiprocess power source that weighs only 29 pounds, making it easy for welding operators at High Tech Welding to move it quickly and easily from one job site to another, or from the shop to the field. It operates on either 120-volt or 230-volt power using the multi-voltage plug (MVP™) — Carlton and his team simply select the appropriate plug and connect it to the power cord, a benefit that helps minimize downtime for switching machines between areas with varying power available.
The unit is also capable of performing MIG, TIG, Stick and Flux-Cored welding processes. Because of these capabilities, it can be used it for welding multiple types and thickness of materials. It MIG welds 24-gauge to 3/8-inch mild steel and TIG welds .020– to 3/16-inch mild steel, a material that High Tech Welding encounters regularly. The company also uses it for welding on stainless steel quite frequently.
The unit features Auto-Set™ Elite technology, which allows Carlton and the other welding operators to set up the machine quickly for any job. It’s only a matter of selecting the desired process, electrode diameter and material thickness.
So how do these features translate into the versatility that High Tech Welding needs to improve quality and increase productivity? Simple. By providing multiple processes in a lightweight package that addresses most any need in the field.
AN ALL-IN-ONE SOLUTION FOR THE FIELD
According to Carlton, field repairs and fabrication jobs that High Tech Welding takes on vary significantly. They include anything from repairing tractors, forestry harvesters or mower decks to custom installations like stainless mezzanines or enclaves for hospitals. In some cases, additional jobs can transpire on a field visit, too. Welding operators may go to a job to make a stick welding repair, only to discover that the customer also needs parts welded that require the TIG welding process.
“The biggest challenge in the field is bringing enough equipment to cover a multitude of scenarios that we might run into. It’s not uncommon to get on a job site and have someone ask for additional repairs,” says Carlton. “Before using the Multimatic 200, we would either have to come back or cover ourselves by carrying extra equipment in the truck. Now I can set this one machine in my passenger seat and go.”
Multiprocessor capabilities have had a significant impact on the time in which High Tech Welding can complete jobs. To switch between processes, Carlton and his team need only to switch out the cables on the Multimatic 200 to match the job they need to tackle. After selecting the cable, it’s a matter of employing the Auto-Set Elite technology on the unit’s interface to select material thickness and stick electrode, tungsten or wire diameter before beginning to weld.
The machine doesn’t require any dialing in of welding parameters; it does it all. And there is no longer downtime for returning to the shop to get equipment or for changing over machines they may be carrying on the truck. “I do use all of the processes — the TIG, the Stick and the MIG,” explains Carlton. “I’ve got other machines that I know work. But I don’t use them. I stick with this one and keep on using it.”
The portability of the machine adds to the efficiencies Carlton has found with the multiprocess capabilities. Because it is so lightweight, he can easily move the unit around any job and keep it close by even when welding in tight places. Its impact-resistant case can also withstand the rigors of field welding, especially when it’s necessary to put it on the ground or under a piece of equipment being repaired.
“I’ve never had a problem with the machine. I’ve had it out in the sand, out in hayfields where the wind is blowing. Dust doesn’t affect it,” he says. “Sunny days to rain, I’ve had it out in everything.”
On a recent project, he put the Multimatic 200 to work repairing a logging truck. Because the truck is used to haul lumber in and out of the woods, traveling over rough terrain, it requires welds that can maintain their structural integrity under heavy weights and stresses. After grinding out the old welds, Carlton was able to place the portable unit right on the truck and carry through with the Stick welding required for the repairs (see photo), using an American Welding Society (AWS) E7018 stick electrode. The unit provided the arc quality and penetration needed to ensure the quality of the welds on this job.
“On a job like that one, there are a multitude of different thicknesses of material. With my other machines, I’d have to get off the truck, go over to the power source and give myself more or less power. Now I’ve got everything sitting right next to me,” explains Carlton.
Having this versatility has paid off. In the last year, he estimates that the company has gained 25 to 30 percent productivity in the field by having, as he says, “one unit that I can depend on for everything.”
ADDITIONAL BENEFITS IN THE SHOP
In addition to field repairs and fabrication, High Tech Welding manages a high volume and large variety of projects in the shop. Carlton has found similar benefits there using the Multimatic 200.
“I never know minute by minute who is going to walk in the door with what,” he says. “I could be welding a mower deck with MIG and 10 minutes later another a guy comes in with stainless steel couplings for a chemical plant that need to be TIG welded. That’s where the Multimatic 200 saves me so much time. I’ve got that machine sitting right next to me. I keep the MIG gun on it and I don’t have to disconnect to use the other processes. I just hook up my other cables.”
As in the field repairs High Tech Welding completes with the Multimatic 200, the company is able to pass on the benefit of increased productivity in the shop to their customers, too — both in the way they consistently meet or exceed deadlines and in terms of cost. The faster the job gets done, the more cost-effective it is for everyone.
Carlton says that in the shop, the unit is especially good for the many tacking processes he encounters and for welding around or under equipment. “In the shop, it’s great because it’s so small and I can basically have it sitting at my hip. I can reach behind me if I need to adjust it. Everything is at my fingertips,” he explains. “When I get a five-minute job through the door and the customer needs it now, I’ve got it [the machine] right here and can buzz things together.”
THE QUALITY AND COST THAT CUSTOMERS WANT
Keeping its customers happy with the quality, cost and timeliness of its services has always been top priority at High Tech Welding. In order to maintain that goal, and continue to grow and adapt its business, Carlton and the other welding operators are sure to continue investing in new products, like the Multimatic 200, to gain greater efficiencies.
“It all comes down to dollars,” he believes. “Being able to do a job more efficiently makes the customer happy. They’re not at all hesitant to call back. And any job that anyone brings, I’ve only got to use one machine to do it.”