With the Internet of Things, ESAB saw an opportunity to leverage their unparalleled experience to improve welding quality and productivity for their customers, as well address challenges like skills gap and burdensome documentation requirements.
Transforming the welding supply chain to reduce costs, increase welder efficiency, and enhance customer satisfaction.
When you’re considered the pinnacle of your industry, your brand is synonymous with quality and industry leadership. That applies to ESAB, a division of Colfax, with its world-renowned welding, cutting, gas equipment, and consumables. Since its founding in 1904, ESAB has grown to supply a broad portfolio of equipment and wire to companies in nearly every industry, including automotive, civil construction, manufacturing, shipbuilding, and power generation.
Providing solutions to virtually every welding application, ESAB serves companies from multi-billion dollar enterprises to niche welding shops. As the only company globally to produce and distribute an entire range of cutting, welding, gas, and consumable products, ESAB gains unique insights that positions it for continuous innovation.
The Challenge: Modernizing a Legacy Manufacturing Process
ESAB’s customers manufacture complex products such as tractors, ships, and mining equipment. The process involves numerous steps, including machine set-up, cutting and grinding metal, and welding metal together.
Customer pain points included managing stringent cost pressures, dealing with an aging workforce, and managing quality control and regulatory documentation.
High productivity is essential to maintaining cost competitiveness in manufacturing. In a factory with numerous interdependencies, a welding or cutting delay could halt the entire production line, triggering compounding cost impacts from equipment downtime.
Welding is both an art and a science, and ESAB realized customers were struggling to maintain quality in the face of an aging workforce. As experienced welders retired, customers lost craftsmanship forged by decades of experience. The junior welders that replaced them often struggled to produce quality welds at production pace.
Customers were burdened by the need to maintain extensive documentation for traceability and auditing. Decades after a weld is performed, manufacturers of aerospace, defense and other high-end equipment are expected to produce documentation that validates the quality of welds in the event of equipment failure. This caused a paperwork burden for both ESAB and the customer alike.
But with each of these customer challenges comes an opportunity, and ESAB seized the opening. “We knew our customers could significantly improve their processes – and gain incredible insights– if we enabled them to leverage our portfolio of equipment and supplies in a connected way,” explains Eyal Shahar, Director, Cloud Products & Services at ESAB.
Connecting Every Step of the Metalworking Process
ESAB Digital Solutions improves productivity and quality by providing insight into the usage and performance of welding and cutting operations worldwide. In addition to driving customer improvements, the solution also provides ESAB with a wealth of intelligence to improve consumable sales, establish industry-wide best practices, and serve as a trusted advisor to its industrial client base. From a unified platform, ESAB customers can easily manage their equipment and supplies and gain a real-time view of production workflows.
“We wanted to enable a seamless customer experience across the entire fabrication workflow while allowing customers to easily share data between their equipment.” Eyal Shahar, Director, Cloud Products & Services, ESAB
By monitoring each stage of the welding process, ESAB Digital Solutions empowers customers to:
- Automate material management by scanning a barcode on raw material and associating that
material throughout the fabrication process
- Record, measure and control cutting and welding operations
- Minimize downtime due to equipment or consumable unavailability
- Improve quality through real-time monitoring and feedback, enabling junior journeymen to deliver the same quality output as seasoned welders
- Manage and automatically reorder consumables
- Optimize equipment placement
- Assess the productivity and quality of different fabrication teams, suppliers, materials or locations
- Gain the operational insight needed to improve productivity or strategize on rush jobs
- Create an auditable record of the “who, what, when and how” of cutting and welding operations
“We are connecting every step of the metalworking process to improve quality and productivity, ensure traceability, and greatly reduce the paperwork typically associated with that workflow,” says Shahar.
All of our digital solutions are live in the ThingWorx/ Azure cloud, which is the most secure in the world. By leveraging PTC and Microsoft expertise and technologies, we can concentrate on improving the fabrication and manufacturing process while giving our customers confidence that our solutions are the best.~ Eyal Shahar, Director, Cloud Products & Services, ESAB