Specialized in the development and production of electric, thermodynamic, solar water heaters and heat exchangers, the Fontaine site of the Atlantic group located in the territory of Belfort has chosen to retrofit. This process, which gives a second life to an industrial machine, aims to increase the welding performance of the group specializing in thermal comfort solutions. Adelin Losseroy, welding process engineer at the Fontaine site (90), testifies to the major change recently made in their workshops.
European leader in heating, ventilation and air conditioning solutions, the Atlantic group has chosen to opt for the retrofit, on its Fontaine site, located in the territory of Belfort (90). This process, which consists in giving a second life to an industrial machine, would allow the group to considerably improve the capacities of its lines, on which pass nearly 400,000 parts per year.
Increase welding performance with retrofit
Mass production today requires production processes to be perfectly optimized to achieve the desired performance, and it is therefore with this in mind that the specialist in thermal comfort solutions has chosen to retrofit its circular welders. » The retrofit of our circular welders was done in several stages. First the mechanical part: we had to modify the special machines to integrate the new welding equipment, the torches, the buffer, etc. Then, it was necessary to manage the generator part. It was simpler, because the new ones were directly compatible with the existing automatons “, explains Adelin Losseroy, welding process engineer at the Fontaine site.
With the retrofit, the Atlantic group, which was historically on powdered flux, therefore switched to a MAG process, in CMT Twin – that is to say a two-wire weld with a leader wire in smooth current, to ensuring penetration and a trailer wire which ensures filling – which is much more suitable for welding our thickness ranges at high speeds.
The Fontaine site now manages to use the generators at a speed of around 3.5 meters per minute, whereas it was around 2 meters per minute before this change, with high duty cycles, around 420 amps on leader wire. » And we can consider going even further ! “, insists Adelin Losseroy.
Lower scrap rates and recycling costs
Thanks to this new system, the specialist in thermal comfort solutions has also been able to improve other aspects of its activity, which indirectly increase productivity. » In fact, the gains in welding quality thanks to better energy control are, for example, very significant. With the CMT twin system, we obtain a fairly wide bead profile, with excellent wetting at the edges which allows us to greatly facilitate the adjustment and therefore the point of impact. In the end, we divided our scrap rate on welded tanks by five! explains the welding process engineer.
This new technology has also made it possible to approach the delicate phases of priming and recovery on circular welds with much greater ease than welding under powder flux. The RCUs, which are arc ignition and extinction parameters, are also easier to manage.
» The management of the cleanliness of the workshops has also changed: previously the flow was volatile and two people were forced to spend an hour a day shoveling the slag. With the CMT Twin, this is no longer the case, which also considerably reduces the costs associated with recycling the slag. Finally, maintenance has clearly been reduced, as it is now limited to welding equipment and no longer to the installation as a whole, which was damaged by flux projections. “says Adelin Losseroy.
Atlantic’s vision of future welding will undoubtedly involve this type of hybrid process, which combines performance and quality. With the retrofit, Adelin Losseroy formally identifies a before and an after: “ We clearly made a gap by changing technology and switching to Fronius! Admittedly, it’s investment and research time, but it’s the kind of thing that we should do more often. This improves our performance, but also the monitoring of operations. Indeed, the new equipment offers the possibility of keeping the history of the welds carried out and of monitoring in real time the welding parameters, intensity, voltage, wire speed and it alerts in the event of drift. « .
The next objective for the group will therefore be to replicate this new way of producing on sites abroad, with the aim of increasing its industrial performance even further.
Front cover photo: © Groupe Atlantic