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The Fluid Systems Engineering and Management Blog

by Swagelok Northern California

Facing Welder Turnover

by Jeff Hopkins, on 5/4/18 9:47 AM

Turnover is high among skilled welders and supervisors of orbital welding operations. How do leaders meet the challenge?


"A critical system is any system where failure is not acceptable; that is subject to high levels of corrosion; where entrapment areas are a concern; which must be purged or cleaned between cycles; that is used for sample analysis; which handles fluids or gases that must not enter the environment; or that handles a product sensitive to contamination." 

Edwin L. Wolf, Welding Systems Group, Swagelok Company


Swagelok's Edwin Wolf explains in his 2000 article "Orbital Welding in Critical Systems," orbital welding is, "an automated GTAW (Gas Tungsten Arc Welding) process; the welded material remains stationary while the welding electrode is moved around the weld joint. The process is typically autogenous, which means that no filler is used. The autogenous welding limits the wall thickness to approximately .16 in. or 4 mm."

He points out that, "orbital welding did not get its start in the semiconductor industry but found its growth there. The time has come to apply orbital welding technology to a broad range of industries."

Prediction for 2018 to 2020

Things are even more urgent today. "Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are retiring every day," wrote Bruce Wesner in a 2015 Machinery Lubrication article.

"At many companies, more than 50 percent of the workforce will be retiring in the next three to five years. Most of these personnel are in key management and supervisory positions with extensive tenure, tribal knowledge and the secrets or tricks to keeping the workplace on pace. How will their knowledge make it to their replacements?"

The Swagelok approach to learning the theories and skills of GTAW orbital welding includes comprehensive classroom instruction and valuable hands-on training. The course is for welders with and without orbital welding experience, supervisors of orbital welding operations, engineers, and quality control pros.

Rethink: "It's not needed in our industry"

"One of the common misconceptions is that 'it is not needed in our industry'", Wolf concludes. "If you have a need to join tubing or thin walled pipe, orbital welding may be in your future. The advantages of stainless tubing over small bore carbon pipe are many, and the installed cost may be substantially less. The growing need for systems that clean-up quickly and offer high resistance to corrosion from the inside or the environment in which it must exist make orbital welding one of the fastest growing segments of the welding industry.

"Train your welding operators well, establish a realistic procedure and follow it, establish an inspection procedure and implement it, buy the proper material and equipment, and the rest is easy."


What's next: Join us at our Orbital Welding Seminar October 22nd through 26th in Fremont:

orbital welding seminar ›

Use the form to register or request more info. Or, call 510-933-6200.


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