Double the production

By Russ Olexa

February 2011- The Hilco division of the Hilliard Corp., Elmira, N.Y., needed welding equipment that could keep up with its demanding schedule of producing ASME-certified pressure vessels and other products. Hilco found one company that not only met its equipment expectations but exceeded them.

Hilco’s welders and welding procedures are qualified to Section 8 of the ASME code and also to the European Pressure Equipment Directive. The company works with various carbon steels, 304, 304L, 316 and 316L stainless steels from 1/16 in. to 8 in. thick, says Daniel Ike, Hilco manufacturing manager.

Hilliard is a family-owned company founded in 1904 that has about 550 employees and roughly 500,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing space contained within four facilities in the Elmira area. "We are a diversified company. The employees at the division where I work weld pressure vessels, produce oil conditioning equipment, filtration systems and oil reclaimers. We have a motion-control division that produces clutches, brakes and drive components for heavy industry. We also have a division for drivetrain components. Our equipment is used for power generation systems to filter out the lube oil used in big turbine generators. We do anything from small, low-pressure filters up to ones that can handle 3,000 psi," says Ike.

At its facility, Hilco has approximately 30 certified welders that produce about 1,000 ASME-certified vessels a year. Vessels range in size from ones made from pipe that are 2 in. in diameter up to ones that are 6 ft. in diameter that weigh less than 3 tons. "Wall thicknesses for our vessels range from 1/8 in. to 2 in. We don’t get into the really large and heavy vessels," he says.

Of high importance is having good welding equipment. "When I started at Hilco about 12 years ago, they were using short-circuit welding processes with another brand of welders, and many of them were old. I wasn’t happy with the deposition rate of this equipment and with the spatter that comes off the weld. When doing root welds, they wouldn’t give us a good-looking weld."

Updated equipment
Ike researched what was available in 2000 and came across the Aristo power supply, produced by Esab Welding & Cutting Equipment, Florence, S.C. Esab’s Ron Stahura, regional sales manager, set up a demonstration with the local Esab representative, Paul Steiner, salesperson for Quality Welding Supply, Elmira, N.Y. Steiner brought in a demonstrator model, Ike used it for about six weeks and immediately bought it. Then he ordered three more.

Ike looked at other welding equipment manufacturers and compared their products to the Esab equipment. He purchased two systems from another welding supplier that used pulse welding technology, "but they just didn’t compare to the Esab Aristo. I just like the way the Aristo worked. It offers a lot more control over the weld, especially for out-of-position welding, I felt, and so did my welders."

"When it comes to introductions of new equipment, Ike is always trying to keep an open mind," says Stahura. "Also, they are a progressive company. They do a lot of high-end welding work using a variety of different materials such as carbon steel, stainless steel, aluminum and nickel-based alloys. They buy the best equipment because they know its value to get the job done right the first time. Much of the current equipment that Ike uses now is the latest welding technology that’s available from Esab, so they know the value of Esab’s Aristo line of power supplies."

Better bead control
The Aristo power supply uses Esab’s SuperPulse technology, which is a step above pulse MIG welding and gives the welder tremendous control over the weld bead, Stahura says. "For excellent arc control, we sync two different programs into the same arc. We either have pulse-on-pulse, pulse-on-short arc or pulse-on-spray arc. This enhances the cosmetics of the weld bead and offers great penetration," he says.

Ike says the Aristo equipment has reduced cleanup time and increased output per welder. "We’ve cut our time in half on some of our welding," Ike says. "The reason for this is that we can put the weld bead down so fast. We even install root welds using our MIG Aristo welders, and the root looks so much like a TIG root when you have the right configuration."

With the Aristo SuperPulse welder, "we have more control of the weld puddle and have a lot less spatter," says Ike. "If you just short-arc weld, you’re going to have spatter. With the pulse option, your bead doesn’t throw spatter off, and you can control the puddle a lot better. Using the pulse-spray-type welding and programming in the parameters for the weld, we run the wire anywhere from 180 ipm up to 700 ipm, depending on the size of the weld or the groove that we’re installing. And our X-rays for these welds have been beautiful."

Programming the Aristo power supply also is easy and allows Ike’s welders to program all the parameters needed for a proper weld. Once these parameters are saved in a program, the welder can call them up again for the same type of weld.

Ease of use
The main benefit of the Aristo power supply is its ease of use, says Stahura. "It’s user-friendly, and we’re using input current off of input voltage very efficiently. It’s robust equipment. It has excellent longevity, and it’s simple to service. It also offers a 100-percent duty cycle," he says.

With its ease-of-use configuration, "it allows a welder to be more apt to take advantage of some of the bells and whistles that are on the power supply’s microprocessor. It’s called our SuperPulse technologies. So the easier it is for the operator to access the information and not to be intimidated by it, the more apt they are to use it and use it to its fullest potential," Stahura says.

Esab’s Aristo power supply offers a unique function to optimize welding parameters in short arc for solid wire welding in stainless and carbon steels called QSet, says Stahura. The operator sets the wire-feed speed and QSet will select the correct welding parameters automatically for the required wire/gas combination. During welding, QSet will adjust the parameters to maintain the optimum wire/gas usage and prevent waste of resources.

For fast welding parameters, a welder uses one knob on the Aristo power supply for the weld setup for solid wire, cored wire, metal-cored wire and various gas mixes.

For Hilco’s MIG welding, the company uses a 90/10 gas shielding, says Ike. About two years ago, it switched to Esab’s Aristo wire. The OK AristoRod 12.5 features a proprietary advanced surface characteristics technology. It has no copper coating. Ike says the company has had excellent results using it.

For Hilco’s stainless steel flux-core welding wire, it uses C-25 shielding gas and Esab Shield-Bright X-tra wire. "Our customers are very particular on how the weld looks on our stainless steel pressure vessels, and this wire gives us a very nice uniform bead. It cleans up easily, and it’s an easy-to-use wire. It also gives excellent results, and everyone is happy with it," says Ike. FFJ

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  • ESAB Welding & Cutting Equipment
    Florence, S.C.
    phone: 843/669-4411
    fax: 843/664-4258

  • Hilliard Corp.
    Elmira, N.Y.
    phone: 607/733-7121
    fax: 607/733-0928

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