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Thread: Recurring issues with welders

  1. #1
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    Recurring issues with welders

    The welding machines in my shop have had intermittent issues for the last 2.5 years (my tenure at current employer). Different brands, different types, they all eventually quit working, get serviced, quit working again, get serviced again- and the beat goes on.
    The shop manager has finally decided to attempt to find the root cause.
    I've never worked with power quality analyzing tools.
    Any thoughts, ideas, or guidance would be appreciated.
    If it is determined that we have power quality issues, is there a component that we can install locally at each welder to clean it up?
    Thanks for your input.

    Sent from my HTC6545LVW using Tapatalk

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shaneyj View Post
    The welding machines in my shop have had intermittent issues for the last 2.5 years (my tenure at current employer). Different brands, different types, they all eventually quit working, get serviced, quit working again, get serviced again- and the beat goes on.
    The shop manager has finally decided to attempt to find the root cause.
    I've never worked with power quality analyzing tools.
    Any thoughts, ideas, or guidance would be appreciated.
    If it is determined that we have power quality issues, is there a component that we can install locally at each welder to clean it up?
    Thanks for your input.

    Sent from my HTC6545LVW using Tapatalk
    It might be a big help to know if they are all failing in similar manner or if failures are seemingly random.

    Is it usually same components failing on most of them?

    Is duty cycle being exceeded on regular basis?
    I live for today, I'm just a day behind.

  3. #3
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    Per our welding servicer, issues are predominantly circuit board related.
    He didn't go into detail, just that there have been "board and logic" issues.
    Our welders understand duty cycle and they are supposed to stay within constraints. I don't think that is the issue.

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  4. #4
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    Some initial thoughts... Are they being used / abused by the same people? Are these second hand or older machines, or cheaper units that may not last like you want? Do other machines, if applicable, have similar failures?

    As for power quality issues, are they single or three phase? Really the only issues you can have at the plug are incorrect voltage which may be a spec error or too much voltage drop on the circuit supplying the receptacle. If you are laying down long thick weld beads with say a 240-volt machine, and you are feeding it with 208v and 500 foot of conductor, then the lower input voltage at the machine could be substantially off of what the name plate requires.

    I would start by getting the information off the name plates, or if they are too illegible to read, look up the specs of what voltages the machines require, then go from there to measuring voltage at the receptacle, both with machine off and with machine on its maximum setting. If you had a euro-spec welder designed to run at 400 volts, and you have a 480 volt Services actually putting out closer to 490 or 500 at the plug, well that's pretty easy to figure out. Most welders are pretty tolerant, they even make adapters that can convert a 50 amp plug to a 15 for use on a 15 amp branch circuit.
    Electricians do it until it Hertz!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shaneyj View Post
    Per our welding servicer, issues are predominantly circuit board related.
    He didn't go into detail, just that there have been "board and logic" issues.
    Our welders understand duty cycle and they are supposed to stay within constraints. I don't think that is the issue.

    Sent from my HTC6545LVW using Tapatalk
    From what I am reading, you have changed everything but the welding servicer, correct? If correct, I would see that as a common denominator.
    Cheers and Stay Safe,

    Marky the Sparky

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shaneyj View Post
    Per our welding servicer, issues are predominantly circuit board related.
    He didn't go into detail, just that there have been "board and logic" issues.
    I don't know about welders but lots of things can effect circuit boards. Heat, vibration, dirt & dust, stray voltage.

    I would first consult with the manufacturers and see if they think filtering power to the boards would do any good or if they think that is a possible fault.

    I once worked on an industrial type compressor and finally gave up and called the manufacturer's tech rep and he knew right off what the problem was. Wasn't electrical at all but a manufacturing defect and the correction was simple.

    My opinion is that no one knows more about a piece of equipment than the people that designed and built it. Not that they are always helpful but sometimes they are.
    The 95% of people that you can't trust give the other 5% a bad name.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by JFletcher View Post
    Some initial thoughts... Are they being used / abused by the same people? Are these second hand or older machines, or cheaper units that may not last like you want? Do other machines, if applicable, have similar failures?

    As for power quality issues, are they single or three phase? Really the only issues you can have at the plug are incorrect voltage which may be a spec error or too much voltage drop on the circuit supplying the receptacle. If you are laying down long thick weld beads with say a 240-volt machine, and you are feeding it with 208v and 500 foot of conductor, then the lower input voltage at the machine could be substantially off of what the name plate requires.

    I would start by getting the information off the name plates, or if they are too illegible to read, look up the specs of what voltages the machines require, then go from there to measuring voltage at the receptacle, both with machine off and with machine on its maximum setting. If you had a euro-spec welder designed to run at 400 volts, and you have a 480 volt Services actually putting out closer to 490 or 500 at the plug, well that's pretty easy to figure out. Most welders are pretty tolerant, they even make adapters that can convert a 50 amp plug to a 15 for use on a 15 amp branch circuit.
    480v machines. They don't discriminate with regards to the user.
    Service seems stiff.
    Morning voltage around 289 to ground and 490 phase to phase.
    Afternoon never seen less than 278 to ground or 480 phase to phase.
    Some of the issues revealed with older machines (4-5 years daily use), but also with machines less than a week old.
    Most recently is 2 Miller tigs fresh out of the box.

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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by K8MHZ View Post
    From what I am reading, you have changed everything but the welding servicer, correct? If correct, I would see that as a common denominator.
    Correct. The other common denominator is power supply to machines- ours.

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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by growler View Post
    I don't know about welders but lots of things can effect circuit boards. Heat, vibration, dirt & dust, stray voltage.

    I would first consult with the manufacturers and see if they think filtering power to the boards would do any good or if they think that is a possible fault.

    I once worked on an industrial type compressor and finally gave up and called the manufacturer's tech rep and he knew right off what the problem was. Wasn't electrical at all but a manufacturing defect and the correction was simple.

    My opinion is that no one knows more about a piece of equipment than the people that designed and built it. Not that they are always helpful but sometimes they are.
    Good point. I've yet to call manufacturers, but will make it a point to do so.
    FYI, these are Lincoln and Miller migs and tigs.
    On another note, our plasma torches have had zero issues.

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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shaneyj View Post
    Per our welding servicer, issues are predominantly circuit board related.
    He didn't go into detail, just that there have been "board and logic" issues.
    Our welders understand duty cycle and they are supposed to stay within constraints. I don't think that is the issue.

    Sent from my HTC6545LVW using Tapatalk
    Knowing the details of what is failing on those boards could be useful for finding the cause. Could be power supply issues, could be user issues, could be bad equipment design or even combinations of those things.
    I live for today, I'm just a day behind.

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