For more than 50 years, Polaris Industries, Inc., has manufactured snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, personal watercraft, off-road utility vehicles and Victory Motorcycles for customers who thrive on adventure. In addition to these popular recreational vehicles, Polaris also has a new line of commercial-grade utility vehicles and equipment.
For years, the 1,900-employee plant in Roseau, MN, used a conventional CV MIG process to weld chassis, steering and suspension components. The company wanted to reduce spatter, distortion and rework that was hurting productivity and profitability. The welding at Polaris is particularly challenging because of the limited weld lengths. With lengths of two inches or less on most parts, the arc is only on for a brief period and does not have much time to establish itself. This challenge requires a machine that can quickly provide arc stability.
“Our operators were utilizing various modes of metal transfer depending on the particular preference of each operator. We were lacking repeatability from one operator to the next.”
Polaris converted to Lincoln Electric’s Power Wave® power source with Waveform Control Technology™. In making the switch, Polaris implemented the use of Rapid Arc™ – a high travel speed and low spatter pulsed spray transfer – that led to improvements in arc consistency, reduced weld spatter, and improved travel speeds.
“For Polaris there are numerous benefits with the Power Wave platform. It doesn’t matter what wire feed speed the operator sets; he or she will always run the same process and we will always get consistency in the welds,” said Cerminara. “With the Power Wave units, we provide a set range for our operators and then they can fine tune for their particular welding style.”
In just the first application where Polaris used Power Wave®, the company experienced a 35 percent increase in productivity, attributed to the elimination of post-weld clean-up operations and rework.
“The Rapid Arc™ process reduces the amount of heat input into the weld and therefore decreases distortion,” said Cerminara. “Spatter has also been reduced translating into a huge cost savings in labor and rework time.”
The improvements didn’t stop with the new equipment. Over a three-month period, Lincoln experts spent four days a week at Polaris training the company’s more than 250 operators on how to use the new machines and the nuances of the Pulsed MIG process.
“We’ve been absolutely pleased with the support we have received from Lincoln – everyone was professional and the response to issues was timely and useful,” said Cerminara. “I would not consider it a difficult transition moving from the CV to a Pulsed MIG process and attribute that mostly to the training provided.”
Morbark, headquartered in Winn. Michigan, has been serving the forestry, recycling, and biomass industries for over 60 years. From its humble roots as a simple blacksmithshop to their current 1.1-million-square-foot manufacturing complex, Morbark has made a name for itself as a leading manufacturer of high-quality tree chippers, stump grinders and more.
With products weighing in at 56 tons, and fabrication schedules ranging anywhere from two hours up to four weeks, Morbark’s welding performance and efficiency are imperative to the company’s overall success. With an installation base of primarily older SCR (silicon -controlled rectifier) welding equipment, the company realized it was time to explore newer, more efficient welding technology as they continued to strive for maxim um production performance.
Utilizing their long-time partnership, Morbark relied on local Lincoln Electric Sales Reps to introduce the latest technology that Lincoln Electric had to offer. After reviewing the latest Power Wave® advanced process welders, Morbark quickly realized upgrading their installation base with these advanced welders was the way to go.
It didn’t take long for the company to realize the considerable energy savings these new inverter-based powers sources provided. In addition to energy savings, Morbark experienced significant production improvements thanks to Power Wave’s Waveform Control Technology®, allowing them to use advance pulsed waveforms for improved heat input control – helping prevent distortion, as well as burn through on their thinner materials.
Morbark also quickly discovered the benefits Lincoln Electric’s CheckPoint® production monitoring technology – a standard feature on every Power Wave® system. This cloud-based production monitoring tool allowed key welding personnel to remotely monitor productivity of each machine, evaluate individual welder arc-on time andanalyze short- and long-term production stats.
We use more than 75 different welding procedure settings and the monitoring allows us to uniformly control the machines across the boards and create consistency between welders
Energy Cost Savings
Increase in Production
MetalCraft Marine is a Kingston, Ontario-based integrated designer and builder of custom, high-performance aluminum work boats for government agencies in North America and globally. Customers include: the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Coast Guard, and various local and regional port authorities.
Five years ago, MetalCraft Marine needed a welding equipment upgrade. Old machines were failing and downtime was on the rise. In addition, inefficiencies in energy consumption forced the company to run nearly half the machines that their workload required.
The boat-building company wanted to increase reliability, lower operating costs and drive process efficiency. They also had to achieve all of this without disrupting service on its industry-leading 10-year warranty on hull seams.
Lincoln Electric’s Power Wave® S350 welding power source, along with the Power Feed® 25M wire feeder, dramatically improved energy efficiency and production. Today, MetalCraft runs eight machines at a time rather than just four.
“We were able to double our weld output per day – or even tripled it in some cases – because the machines only drew between eight and 12 amps most of the time, so our house power didn’t need to be adjusted.”
The improvements went beyond the new equipment. MetalCraft also benefited from Lincoln Electric’s technical welding support and onsite education.
“Lincoln spent a great deal of time with us, spec’ing out exactly what we needed,” said Allen. “And then when we brought the equipment on board, they spent four or five months returning periodically to work with our welders to bring them up to speed and identify any tweaks that could be made – both in terms of the equipment itself and the peripheral equipment, such as the welding guns. They worked very closely with us to redefine our welding procedures to take full advantage of the new and more advanced equipment.”
“The quantifiable and dramatic improvements were almost immediate,” said Allen. “The Lincoln equipment, and the consulting advice that came with it, probably enabled us to improve our aluminum welding efficiency by 20 percent. That’s a 20 percent reduction in the time it takes to build a boat. Those machines all paid for themselves in less than a year…The end result was less rework, better appearance, fewer quality inspections required, and improved efficiencies as well.”
The utility savings enabled MetalCraft to double its welding capacity. The increased capacity equated to an increase in sales by more than 300 percent over the past five years.
“We have good procedures identified in preset user memories, and that makes it easier,” said Allen. “You can program the setting you want. So, the guy just has to press a button or two and everything gets set up. He’s not tweaking the controls. Plus, it has a couple settings on it that make it easier for a relatively new person to use compared to an experienced person, and still get good results.”
Daily Weld Production Output