A New Start with K-TIG | by Chris Bayly, Boilermaker & Welder

Not long ago I started with K-TIG, and so commenced a new chapter in my working career. To say the concept was new to me would be an understatement. From the first phone call from a previous supervisor asking me to check out their website, to now 7 months of working for K-TIG, my perception and my knowledge of the industry has increased ten-fold. After all, who doesn’t love finding out new things?!

I’ve been in the welding industry for over 13 years, but only in the manual area of the industry, never the automatic side. I learnt how to weld out in the countryside as a labourer working for a demountable building installation company, welding up carports and verandas. While I was working for this company, I gained experience in many trades, from plumbers, electricians, concreters and welders.

Speaking from experience, having no computing or automation background, I’ve come to enjoy using the system, and pushing it to new boundaries.

When I decided to focus more on one trade and start an apprenticeship, I was drawn to welding. The company that I did my apprenticeship with designed and built truck bodies. Councils and trucking companies would send us a cab chassis truck, and we would install everything on top. All the pneumatic, hydraulic and electrical systems were included in this installation, on everything from 5 to 35 tonne tipping bodies, through to trailers, water tanks and fire trucks. 

After finishing my apprenticeship, I moved to Darwin, and all over Australia, to commence work in the construction industry. From welding up I-beams to form a base chassis for demountable buildings, welding reo-cages together for slip-form concreting, to building boilers, I have had lots of different experiences in different locales. This experience has always been in manual welding, be it Shielded Metal Arc Welding (Stick), Gas Metal Arc Welding (MiG) or Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (TIG).

 

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Then the day came that one of my previous supervisors gave me a call to see what I was up to, how I was for work, and whether I was interested in expanding my experience. I’ll be the first to admit that when I had a look at K-TIG’s website I was a bit apprehensive— I’m not that flash with computing and code. But I decided to take the plunge and challenge myself with a process I knew little about.

I’ve now been working with K-TIG for over 7 months and am loving it. Nearly every day is a new learning experience—I’m utilising new technology to test boundaries. I get to work with the K-TIG system, not only to achieve results on customer coupons, but also to test the limitations of the system. And if there are limitations, we work out solutions so the system can be utilised in more fields, with more potential.

Using the K-TIG system is a lot easier than I had first imagined.

Using the K-TIG system is a lot easier than I had first imagined. If I know what parameters I need to weld a piece of pipe or plate, I simply fill out the procedure page and then run it through the operation. Mostly, seeing as I’m trying to find those parameters on the different grades and types of steel, I’m using the freestyle settings. This makes raising and lowering amps and increasing and decreasing wire speed easier, giving me the ability to find suitable parameters more quickly, particularly if I don’t have a lot of material to work with.

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On the odd occasion that I need to change the system between welding implements, we have a rotator, plate runner and a robot arm that can be utilised to do both. This makes it extremely quick and simple to do. There’s no chance of inputting the incorrect cables, and everything is clearly marked and easily accessible.

The best thing that I’ve found using the K-TIG system is the speed.

The best thing that I’ve found using the K-TIG system is the speed. For example, while working in the construction industry I’ve had to weld up numerous 12mm or 1/2” plates. The amount of preparation, grinding and welding that goes into making sure each plate is properly welded is significant. Even if the plates arrive already bevelled and ready to go, the amount of welding passes, and back grinding (if required), makes it a long, hot tiresome job.

With its keyhole technology, the K-TIG system can do most of this in a single weld, with hardly any preparation required. Being able to weld 12mm stainless steel at a rate of 1m every 4 minutes, this not only cuts down on welding time, which means less heat into the plate, but also saves time on the preparation and bevelling of the steel. And then, as the material gets thinner, your speed increases even further. We are currently welding 6mm wall thickness pipe at 500mm per minute, so a 10” pipe can be welded in under two minutes, all without bevelling or wire being added.

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Using the K-TIG system in the workplace has several benefits. Not only does it speed up production—which means the company can quote and win more work because costs are down—the job can also be done quicker. I’ve been asked by old colleagues about the changes that a system like K-TIG can have in a workplace, and the effects on the work of staff. The K-TIG system is mainly a workshop based system, needing reliable automation for the welds. This means that it has minimal impact on the site-based workforce. If anything, K-TIG requires more personnel because of the quantity of product that can be sent to site. K-TIG’s Role in the Construction of the Acueducto Gran San Juan Water Pipeline. And even then, the need for more people in the workshop environment for fit-up and operation of the system means that there is only a small impact on that workforce as well.

You don’t need a computing degree or a master’s in physics to operate the system, it is clear and simple to operate, making the task easier and more efficient. 

You don’t need a computing degree or a master’s in physics to operate the system, it is clear and simple to operate, making the task easier and more efficient. That’s what makes the K-TIG system so easy to use. You can come from all walks of life, and experience, and in a short period of time be able to use the system quickly and efficiently.

Speaking from experience, having no computing or automation background, I’ve come to enjoy using the system, and pushing it to new boundaries. With the changing world of technology, from the ever-changing realm of mobile phones, to computers becoming smaller and faster, changes in the welding industry were bound to occur. And the K-TIG system packs so much technology and innovation into such an easy to use controller. The ideal thing behind the controller is that anything that can be measured, can also be controlled. Be it the speed of automation and the speed of wire being inputted, right through the amps required for the weld.

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