Five Tips to Reduce Plant Welding Costs

As with any business, steel fabricators  are constantly looking for ways to control costs and maximize profit without sacrificing the quality of their work. However,  saving money in the long term requires a concentric focus on decreasing costs associated with labor and overhead more than on buying the cheapest materials and equipment, or securing the lowest subcontractor to work with.  

For a steel fabricator, welding takes up a majority of a fitter’s time. Therefore, the efficiency of welding has a major impact on labor hours and overall plant costs. Larger plants with major capital investment at their disposal are able to invest in robot welding equipment to reduce this cost, but there are many steps that mid-sized and smaller fabricators can take to reduce this cost without making major plant investment. 

Outlined below are five practical ways to reduce welding costs that can be implemented easily in any facility: 

  1. Don’t Overweld. Many shops try to “play it safe” by instructing fitters or detailers to place a larger weld than what is called for in the design. However, overwelding leads to a significant amount of wasted material, which equates to unnecessary costs. Using a larger weld can also damage the mechanical integrity of the welded assembly due to added distortion from the additional heat input. Instead, fitters should follow the specifications in the design precisely by using a fillet weld gauge. This simple change will lead to large savings and higher quality throughput. 
  2. Control Shielding Gas Usage. Shielding gas is a necessary expense of welding, but many shops use at least twice as much gas as needed, which means they end up spending at least double the amount of money. A common cause of excessive gas usage is high flow rates. It is essential for welders to stay within the range specified in the weld procedures. Newer technology can also allow for lower flow rates to achieve the same results that formerly required more gas, which can lead to large cost savings.  
  3. Choose the Right Welding Consumables. In some cases, welding accessories and consumables can comprise up to 80% of the total welding production cost. Many companies try to reduce this cost by ordering cheaper consumables, but this approach only leads to more expenses in the long run due to more frequent changeover. Instead, investing in higher quality consumables that can withstand high temperatures for a longer duration can save both time and money.  
  4. Prioritize Preventative Maintenance. Scheduling downtime for equipment maintenance can help keep production flowing smoothly and lower the cost and manhours involved in troubleshooting welding problems after they appear. This is especially true if downtime happens in the middle of a shift, causing labor hours to be lost. 
  5. Improve Employee Retention. Another factor that is often overlooked when examining costs is the overall work environment. High turnover rates lead to more time and money invested in new employee training. Having a strong work culture and attractive benefits can also help retain your developed and skilled workers who are then able to complete the work more efficiently to your fabrication facility standards.  

Reducing welding costs doesn’t have to be complicated. By implementing these small changes in your company, you could save significantly each year, leading to higher profit margins.  

Need more help planning and budgeting your project? Contact Anatomic Iron Steel Detailing. Through our value engineering services, our experienced team will review your project and find areas of improvement in the steel design and erection to help lower fabrication, erection, and material costs, which will lower the overall project cost.