by Josh Hill
Move parts through welding stations more efficiently
Most fabricators experience a common problem with the amount of time it takes to move parts through their welding stations: material handling time to reposition parts for welding on all sides. As the parts get heavier, this problem can get worse as welders wait in line for crane availability. There are several options for modifying the welding fixture itself to help alleviate these bottlenecks.
1) Position the part away from the work surface
For simple parts, raising the material 1 in. (25.4 mm) above the work surface can provide enough space for the welder to access both sides of corners and other joints. Setting up the fixture to allow corners to “hang out” in space away from the work surface provides 360° access for welding. For either of these methods to be useful, the setup time for the fixture has to be less than the time it would take to simply flip the part over and weld the other side.
2) Use a manual positioner
For more complex parts, raising the material may not be enough to allow for access to all of the weld joints. A manual rollover solution may be considered for parts that are up to 1,000 lb (454 kg). Most manual positioners consist of a headstock and tailstock frame with bearing assemblies to allow for rotation. There should also be a locking mechanism so the part can be rotated to each position and locked in place for welding. One feature often overlooked in manual positioners is the ability to compensate for CG (centre of gravity) for the different parts that will be welded. Depending on the part being welded, you can use a single spine or picture frame base between the headstock and tailstock to provide a mounting surface.
3) Don’t forget the tooling
Tooling will be needed to locate and clamp the loose pieces in position. A good fixturing system makes it very quick and easy to reposition parts away from the table or work surface. If you are planning to use a manual positioner, a universal spine in between the headstock and tailstock will allow for infinite setups for different parts that can be changed over quickly. SMT
Josh Hill is an application engineer at Bluco Corp., Aurora, IL.