Lean Manufacturing applied to Welding

Lean is a universal philosophy to systematically eliminate waste. It is based on the principle : "If you cannot measure, you cannot manage"

In non-Kaizen organizations, the first instinct is to hide or ignore a problem, rather than to correct it. Those who create problems are often not directly inconvenienced by them, and often adopt a laissez-faire attitude towards them. They tend to take the inconvenience for granted.  Consider grinding costs. Excessive grinding in a job shop or the field is taken for granted and often ignored. If the inspection process requires grinding for joint inspection, so be it. No one questions if the inspection process could be changed through engineering.

Consider wire feeding. Few ask if the wire could be fed more efficiently. But wire feeding problems often can cause significant downtime and serious welding quality problems related to weld penetration and strength of welds. If a wire feeds inconsistently, or if setup takes forever, the management usually blames the welder. It’s the way it’s always been, so why question it? Nevertheless, questioning everything is a key tenet of lean manufacturing, and it need not be limited to reducing work-in-progress and finished-goods inventory.

Massive repairs to butt welds on fracture critical components can be taken for granted because the joint geometry and welding processes cannot be changed. They were incorrectly chosen in the first place, and it is too late to change anything. This undoubtedly leads to cost overruns for the contract and everyone is afraid to stop the work and ask for a design change.

A welder will work hard all day moving pieces in a shop because the work station is poorly organized, and there is no access to a jib crane. He or she may wait for the crane on many occasions throughout the year and take waiting for granted,  because there is no way of calculating the lost time and justifying capital needed for adequate tools.

Simply put, a problem is an opportunity for improvement. This is where Lean and Kaizen start.

TVI offers Lean audits through their 101.Lean.Welds program. The auditors evaluate the welding operations in the shop and the field with lean welding tools on five key welding process parameters. Quality and Costs can be dramatically improved.

Ask for a quote on :

  • Lean.101.Welds audits
  • Measuring Welding duty cycle in a weld cell to justify robotics
  • Establishing welding costs using the Lean.101.Welds cost calculator
  • Return on investment (ROI) calculations based on actual welding efficiency measurements
  • Fillet welds productivity and quality measurement
  • Shielding gas cost and  waste measurement

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