Plant Engineering March 2014-PE : Page-54

180 Turn around your thinking and insights in 180 words or fewer. Looking for more? Plug in the unique keyword at the end of each article at, and you’ll go right to the in-depth article. Our new 180 feature each month will give you a synopsis of key tips, information, Managing your MIG consumables Companies make the investment in welding automation with an eye toward the potential long-term benefits it can provide—better productivity, improved weld quality and reduced costs. Protecting that investment and realizing a quick return on it is as much a matter of planning as it is one of proper equipment selection and usage. That equipment includes everything from the robot itself to small components, including the front-end consumables on the robotic MIG gun. While seemingly insignificant, the nozzles, contact tips and gas diffusers used in robotic welding can have a marked effect on the overall performance of a robotic welding cell. Frequent changeovers can result in unnecessary downtime and costs. Poorly functioning consumables, or ones that are simply not appropriate for the application, can generate weld quality issues that compound productivity delays and could lead to expensive rework. Selecting the proper consumables and implementing some best practices for storage, installation and maintenance can help ensure the best results, increase product life and support the benefits sought in welding automation. Robotic welding systems typically operate for longer periods of time and at higher amperages than a semi-automatic application, and may utilize transfer modes that are especially harsh on consumables. For that reason, it’s important to select ones that are durable enough for the application. KEYWORD: MIG CONSUMABLES Can vendors fill the engineering gap? There are many reasons why end users and equipment builders require the help of outside engineering services. One is a long-term engineering shortage. I know this firsthand when filling open technical positions in my own engineering group. Of course, finding well-qualified candidates for any field of work can be a challenge, but engineering job vacancies require particularly intense recruitment efforts. Another reason why outside engineering services are needed is often due to inconsistent work flow. Staffing decisions are often made to cover an “average” level of work, and contracting when needed helps maintain a core group of talent and reduces the need to let people go when workflow levels dip. The rise of contracting firms has also made this process easier. Finally, because technology continues to change rapidly, it can be difficult to stay up to date and knowledgeable on technology changes and trends. By using the expertise of outside resources that specialize in particular technologies, a firm can feel reassured it’s staying well-informed of technological advances. —Gary Kirckof, Beckhoff Automation KEYWORD: ENGINEERING GAP Drive leaders through KPIs Effective daily management starts with leadership. When it’s done well, associates and their overall orga-nizational performance benefit through faster innova-tion, increased accountability, shared direction and decisions reflecting clearly-defined priorities, accord-ing to Katrina Warren, manager of engineering devel-opment for Zodiac Arresting Systems. Warren shared her suggestions for daily manage-ment in engineering and supply chain in a presen-tation during the recent AME annual conference in Toronto. Leading in the lean enterprise demands is constantly looking out for non-standard conditions, Warren said. Leaders are responsible for focusing on continuous process improvement and sustaining the system, she added. Using tools such as visual management and key performance indicators (KPIs) supports these initia-tives. KPIs in engineering, for example, range from the operation’s technology roadmap to R&D as a per-centage of sales, the number of new patents and the number of new product introductions. Monthly “dash-board” reviews reveal progress in KPIs and suggest needed actions. KEYWORD: AME LEADERSHIP 54 • March 2014 P LANT E NGINEERING

Previous Page  Next Page

Publication List
Using a screen reader? Click Here