The Xiris Blog

Xiris Goes to China!

Posted by Dean Zhao on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 @ 12:03 PM

Xiris has extended its salesforce into the world’s largest and fastest growing market – China.

After signing Harbin Jinlifeng Science and Technology Development Co. Ltd (Jinlifeng) to be the exclusive Chinese distributor of Xiris Products for the welding industry, Cameron Serles, President of Xiris, decided to visit our new Chinese partner in January 2014 along with Dean Zhao, Project Manager for the weld camera product line.

We arrived at Harbin, China, in early January to -25°C temperatures!  Dr. Sanbao Lin, the Vice Director of the State Key Laboratories for Advanced Welding and Joining (State Key Lab), met us at the airport.  Dr. Lin is well known in the Chinese welding community as a welding pioneer and consultant to many companies in different industries across China such as aerospace, nuclear, ship building, automotive, tube mills etc.  His research team is specialized in arc welding techniques and welding process monitoring and control.

Our trip began by visiting the State Key Lab of welding. This lab is part of Harbin Institute of Technology which is one of the top ranked universities in China. The lab was the first welding lab established in China, equipped with all kinds of welding related equipment available from all over the world.  Now, the lab will be equipped with one more piece of welding equipment – the Xiris XVC-O Weld Camera System.  We installed and tested our XVC-O Weld Cameras on a number of welding setups: MIG, tandem MIG, TIG, Plasma on aluminum and MIG on aluminum. We demonstrated the system to various graduate students and trained them how the system works. They were able to see features previously not possible:  the wire feeds in a tandem MIG welding process, the keyhole in plasma welding, weld puddles and weld pools in both MIG and TIG welding. 

Blog 280114 Xiris in Harbin resized 600

L to R:  Cameron Serles – President, Xiris Automation Inc / Dr.Lin - Vice Director of the State Key Laboratories for Advanced Welding and Joining of Harbin China / Dean Zhao – Project Manager, Xiris Automaton Inc.

The following day, we visited Harbin Welding Institute (HWI), the largest welding research & development institute in China. HWI has two major subsidiaries: welding material development and welding automation equipment division, one of the largest welding automation companies in China. Headquarters of the China Welding Association, Chinese Welding Society, and Chinese Committee for Welding Standardization are all located in HWI. We met the general manager of HWI’s welding automation group, Mr. Zhang and the sales manager of both groups, Mr. Wu. We introduced Xiris and Xiris weld products to HWI. HWI also gave us an introduction of the institute and took us to their automation shop. They showed us various welding automation projects, including small diameter pipe cladding, underwater laser cutting for the nuclear industry, and multi-torch welding systems. Roughly they had about 30 projects on their floor to be shipped to their customers in the next few months.

Later in the day, we met the general manager of Jinlifeng, Ms. Li. Jinlifeng is specialized in reselling industrial computers and related equipment and will be our distributor for China.

Summary of our findings in our Harbin Trip:

  • Harbin is the centre for welding in China, with famous institutions like State Key Lab and HWI there.
  • China’s welding market is enormous with the huge amount of infrastructure being built.
  • There is a lot of semi-automated welding equipment be used in China. Some of these systems are now being slowly transformed into fully automated welding processes.
  • There is some good technology being developed and used in China for welding!

Topics: weld camera, Laser welding, welding automation, Sub Arc welding, labor market, Harbin

Using Technology to Recruit the Best Young Welders

Posted by Cameron Serles on Wednesday, July 17, 2013 @ 03:04 PM

The welding industry, like virtually all manufacturing industries, is facing a sweeping change in its workforce.

The oldest Baby Boomers turned 65 in 2011, and considering the huge size of this cohort (e.g., 26 percent of the U.S. population), the consequence is obvious—there’s going to be a large exodus of experienced welders and welding operators leaving to enjoy their retirement.

Baby Boomer welders will be retiring en masse.

Advances in automated welding technology can partially offset the loss of the Baby Boomers because fewer operators are needed per workload with automated equipment. But the problem for manufacturers is that welding is perceived among those preparing to enter the workforce as a dirty, dangerous, uncomfortable, low-tech, and relatively low-paying occupation. This perception is causing a shortage of young people entering into welding —even taking into account that some of the jobs are being replaced by automated processes.

This shortage poses a considerable risk for manufacturers, but also an opportunity. Being able to recruit the top talent from this limited labor pool can become a significant competitive advantage.

The Old-School Operator

For manufacturers, the first step in attracting new talent is realizing that they won’t be like the Baby Boomers.

“Old-school” operators probably don’t have a fancy degree or diploma in welding engineering or technology. When they entered the workforce, they were probably hoping to get on with a good company and work there until they retired. They likely picked up the trade as an apprentice, or perhaps in the military. There’s a good chance they started in manual welding and were trained on-the-job to operate and monitor automated welding robots.

The recruiting techniques that worked on these Baby Boomers aren’t the same approaches that will attract the best new talent.

The New Breed

The job of being a welder or welding operator is changing as technology progresses, but manufacturers need to be sure to highlight this change in their recruiting.

Young welders will place high value on learning new skills.

It’s true that your ability to attract good young talent will be tied to perceptions of the welding industry as a whole, but your company can distinguish itself by the type of equipment you have, how much technology is incorporated into your welding process, and how you use this technology. Your attractiveness to the best people who do decide to take up the occupation—meaning people who are smart, ambitious, hard-working, and eager to learn—will largely depend on how well they perceive your company in the following areas:

  • Prospect of career advancement.  Many people who are choosing to enter welding are receiving training at vocational schools, community colleges, and private welding schools. They are seeking a career that rewards them financially for learning specialized technical skills. By providing the latest automated welding technology—such as automated welding cells with Weld Cameras —your company will be seen as a place where they can continue to learn new skills and make themselves more marketable. Very few people entering the workforce now expect to work for the same company their entire career, so the opportunity to increase marketability of their skill set is a high priority.
  • The chance to work with exciting technology. Generation Y and Millennial workers have never experienced a world where computers weren’t part of their everyday life. To them, a job that doesn’t involve the use of technology is decidedly “un-modern.” Therefore, manufacturers that embrace cutting-edge automated welding technology, including computer applications such as Weld Cameras with image processing software, will be more appealing to the young workforce.
  • Working conditions. Advancements in Weld Camera technology have made it possible for operators to remotely monitor an automated welding process with better visibility than is typically possible any other way. This is an important way to free up the operators from the risky, unhealthy, and sometimes very uncomfortable working environment of welding that has traditionally been a daily drudgery.

Conclusion

Finding good welding operators is likely to become more challenging industry-wide, but progressive manufacturers can position themselves to get the best talent by changing the perception—and the reality—of the job from “old-school” to modern with the adoption of progressive automated welding technology such as Weld Cameras.

 

Top photo courtesy of Dave and Margie Hill/Kleerup, The Consortium. Lower photo courtesy of KOMUnews.

Topics: welding automation, welding instruction, labor market

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