Visionary Welding —
— Managing Welding Technology and Expertise Toward World Class
I’m Brian Dobben. More than an outstanding Welding Engineer, and a Mechanical Engineer, I’m a strategist in company structure and welding processes – masterminding every detail to achieve new levels of benchmark performance in automated welding quality and profitability. So what am I doing here?
This blog is dedicated to three purposes:
To further Welding Engineering and the manufacturing welding environment.
To aid Staffing Professionals including HR Managers and Recruiters in understanding the unique Welding Engineering market, and identifying their real needs.
To help manufacturing executives think about what’s required to excel in quality and profitability and turn it into a formidable competitive edge, when their core business is selling their expertise at designing/manufacturing welded assemblies.
If you’re in any of those three categories, I can help. Join with me. Tell others about what you find here. Ask questions. Take a poll and see the results. Suggest a poll. Add your thoughts, experience, and expertise.
Although I’m working a full-time position, I am available for engineering services including short-term welding engineering projects, welding process training, strategic consultations including organizational structure, and welding process survey analysis and recommendations with accurate estimates of potential change results. I can work over weekends or a couple of days during the week, on a limited basis. One of my recent projects was to rescue two-wire pulse-MIG robotic welds from circumferential leaks on a new line launch, since the performance needs were beyond the skillsets of both the welding equipment OEM and the robotic integrator. I am currently using Experis for such contract arrangements.
Why have I concluded that I’m a visionary welding process automation expert?
Experience, Results and Leadership. Typically even the best welding automation I’ve seen in plants can be dramatically improved, but it requires vision to see what is possible, and a realistic strategy to get there that encompasses the entire manufacturing operations – not just the welding. At three different companies in three years each, I’ve proven that it’s possible to take the existing industry “benchmark” standard and make 50-95% improvements on it, prove the international “experts” wrong, and leave the competition in the dust. What I do seems to me like common sense that most good welding engineers should be able to do – except they rarely can.
Over the years, my advanced hands-on troubleshooting and optimization skills have shifted to “hands-on with purpose”, as I realized that training the front-line people produces deeper, broader, more permanent results than I can achieve “on my own”.
At my last major job I hired 8 sharp welding engineers with 0-3 years experience, and trained and led them to do the “impossible” in 7 business units. We tracked every weld defect by type and location in the specific weld joint, developed a 4-week training program for welding techs, implemented 30-minute “crash recovery” procedures, and continually improved processes and procedures. Before the bottom dropped out, we had eliminated the last of 8 weld repair people from our largest business unit: it ran 750k to 1M MAG welds a day on safety-critical automotive seat frames using over 60 MIG/MAG robots on 2 shifts, and we eliminated the last weld repair position.
(In some European environments this would not be considered unusual because the operators are assumed to do their own weld repair. But that was not the case. These robotic operators did zero welding, just load/unload/inspect: all weld repair was done part-time by the same person who performed all the weld destructs and “cut and etch” macro cross-section checks, and repairs took them roughly an hour a day.)
Where do I go from here? I don’t know. But I think that somewhere out there, there must be management teams who suspect their welding automation is hiding buried gold (it is), and they want to get serious about mining it and leading their industry. How about World Class welding automation?
Brian Dobben – BSMET/WET
My current blog-header graphic is cropped from the cover artwork of the September 2005 edition of Fronius’ magazine “Weld+Vision”, and is used with permission: photo courtesy of Fronius International GmBh. Myself and a couple of other welding engineers have been using this as desktop wallpaper for the last couple of years. Beyond looking cool, it strikes a chord in artistically representing reaching for and innovating the better, the unknown, the next world-class standard in welding. I think it well illustrates the heart of Visionary Welding.
If you’d like to see the full graphic artwork, it’s in Fronius’ Weld+Vision archives, and you may be able to access it here.
This was my very first blog header graphic, a picture of Ferris State B.S.W.E.T. graduate Nick Perry, teaching a weld inspection class that I developed for robotic cell operators and robotic technicians.