"Our goal is to be an extension of our customers," explains Manufacturing Engineer Scott Exner.
"Integrating lean concepts in our operation has allowed us to look at all of our processes and how they're interrelated," Exner
"When you make that changeover in a multi-process mode," explains Exner
, "you have to change to a different wire, different gas, and then go through and re-setup your process parameters.
"When we first started integrating lean principles and standardization into our welding operations, guns and consumables were right at the top of our list," Exner
"We looked at a lot of different packages, but so far nothing has matched the Bernard Q300 gun and Centerfire consumables."
The calm shielding gas coverage provided by the Centerfire consumables help produce a stable arc and consistent, high-quality weld bead.
In fact, Exner
still reviews competitive guns and consumables on a yearly basis, and he
has yet to find a product that provides a better result for their applications.
"We brought in guns from other manufacturers and sat down and wrote out a comparison listing what we liked and disliked about each gun," Exner
"You can have different neck lengths, different bends and other options that allow it to fit into almost any position we need it to get into," Exner
said, noting that his
operators especially like the rotatable neck, which allows them to access hard-to-reach joints and still be comfortable.
Overcoming operator resistance to change is a constant concern in any manufacturing environment, particularly with regard to equipment that alters the ergonomic environment, such as a welding gun.
However, the operators at OEM
were surprisingly accepting of the Q-Gun.
"I think I was more reluctant moving to the Q-Gun and Centerfire system than my welders were," Exner
"My guys loved the curved handles, the weight of the guns and the different neck configurations, so it was an easy choice for the people using the product to make the choice to go with Bernard."
Implementing lean practices resulted in more arc-on time for their operators, but because they were running their guns as high as 260 to 270 amps, Exner
became concerned that they would exceed the duty cycle.
To date, they have found that the Q300 has been able to handle all of their welding needs while still providing a comfortable weight and maneuverable size that they couldn't find in a 400-amp gun.
Another major factor in OEM's decision to use Bernard MIG products was the Centerfire consumable system.
"We don't look at consumables as a big item in terms of cost," Exner
"One of the biggest errors that welders tend to make is in setting the tip recess," Exner
"That plays a big role in how your arc is going to perform.
Two different guys with the same tip recess are going to get more similar results than one guy using different tip recesses.'
was also impressed by the gas flow provided by the built-in spatter guard.
Bernard Q-Guns and Centerfire consumables helped OEM Fabricators
eliminate costly equipment changeovers to accommodate several different product runs per day.
"One of the biggest benefits to the Centerfire system has been the gas flow," Exner
"The spatter guard provides a smooth, gentle flow from the nozzle, which does a better job of keeping out the air atmosphere.
Other consumables create a turbulent gas flow that mixes with the atmosphere because it comes out of the nozzle so fast and uncontrolled."
Standardizing on one brand of consumables has also improved OEM's
inventory management system, which in turn reduces downtime and keeps their welders more productive.
"Labor is one of a company's biggest costs, so we try to eliminate non-value-added time as much as possible," Exner
"Standardizing on one brand of consumables means that if one operator runs out of tips, he
can borrow one from his
neighbor, rather than spending time going to the crib trying to track down a tip of the same make and model as the one he
still has a few customers who require a departure from the one process, one gas, one wire, one gun practice, the vast majority of their customers have been thrilled with the results of their "rule of ones" philosophy - both in terms of the cost and quality of OEM's
"At a time when most of our suppliers are increasing their prices, our customers are asking for price breaks," Exner