Position Your Sales Team For Growth

A lot of what goes into successful selling is fulfilling a customer’s needs.

Mig welding on a positioner

Mig welding on a positioner

Distributor salespeople are always looking for ways to increase their sales. They’d sure like to ink that next big gas contract, sell a ton of filler metals or outfit a customer with a few dozen new high-tech power sources, but these opportunities don’t come along every day.

Scouting around a customer’s operation may reveal work being performed that cries out for specialized equipment that will help increase production and improve quality.

Circular Joining Processes
Many fabricating shops and manufacturing plants join pipe and tubing. These operations are found in industries related to aircraft components, fire suppression systems, HVAC equipment, hydraulic components, refineries, distilling equipment and power generation among others.

Joining pipe or tube (and this includes related elbows, tees and flanges) is a circular type of welding process. Welding a flange to a piece of pipe entails tacking the two pieces together. Now what? You can lay the work piece down on a grounded welding table and slowly roll it while welding the joint, or clamp the flange to the table and walk around the piece while running a bead. This may be an acceptable method for a few pieces, but it will soon wear out a welder on longer production runs and compromise weld quality. You should be on the lookout for customers who may be struggling with this situation.

The answer to this dilemma is to rotate the work piece for the welder, and this can be done easily with off-the-shelf welding positioners and turntables. There are several companies that manufacture this type of equipment. These machines are generally rated by their weight-carrying capacity and range anywhere from 50 pounds on up to the really big boys that can handle a freight car. The purpose of this article is to discuss the smaller, bench top machines that would be of most use in the typical fab shop.

Spec’ing the Proper Machine
Basic machines typically have a flat base with no tilting capability built in. This may suit your customer’s needs most of the time. If he needs to rotate a part on an angle, he can devise a simple angle plate on which to mount his turntable. If your customer welds a wide variety of assemblies, you may want to recommend a machine with tilting capabilities and that should be at least 90 degrees. This will definitely add cost to the unit, but quicker set up changes will defray that cost over time.

A major consideration for recommending a particular positioner is, of course, the weight of the assembly to be welded. Your customer must also understand that weight has to include the weight of the fixture that will hold the assembly in place during the welding operation. Positioner manufacturers rate their machines for loads placed on the machine with the worktable in the horizontal position and centered over the spindle shaft. Off center, or out of balance loads, will affect the carrying capacity of any positioner. This condition is worsened when a load is tilted. Out of balance loads can be balanced with a dummy weight attached to the work-holding fixture. Tall parts, when tilted, especially to the horizontal, put a strain on the positioner and should be supported by some sort of steady rest.

Welding positioners are powered by either AC or DC motors and rotate the table via a gear train or V belts. DC drives generally deliver more torque at low motor speeds. Table speeds are variable and may have a reverse rotation feature. Speed range (expressed in RPMs) is an important consideration in recommending a machine. The larger the diameter of the part to be welded, the slower the positioner has to run (and vice versa). Here’s a handy formula you can use to determine the RPM needed to weld a particular part: Ascertain the arc travel speed (expressed in inches per minute) needed to weld the assembly. Now, divide that number by the circumference of the part (again, in inches). The resultant number will equal revolutions per minute.

Critical welds may require “back purging” the inside of the pipe or tube assembly during the welding cycle. Machines with a hollow shaft and the appropriate fittings route shielding gas into the underside of the part.

A lot of what goes into successful selling is fulfilling a customer’s needs. Keep your eyes open the next time you’re on your customer’s shop floor. He may just need a welding positioner.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association
Keith Honhart Meet the Author
Keith Honhart is vice president of Atlas Welding Accessories, headquartered in Troy, Michigan, and on the Web at www.atlaswelding.com.