Plans are falling into place – you’ve got the most productive team of welders available to work on your next construction project and you’re coming in under budget. If everything keeps going smoothly, the project will be completed faster than planned.
Sound familiar? Probably not. You can have the most productive welders on an industrial construction site, but if you haven’t scrutinized the supply chain aspects of the project in advance, you could limit the productivity of your welders, adding costs and project delays.
The “three bid and buy” approach is a lowest-commodity product cost strategy that is repeated frequently, yet it often doesn’t address all aspects of a supply chain strategy to yield the lowest project costs.
How are you ensuring that you aren’t missing an opportunity to make your process more efficient if you haven’t challenged the current process or approach? It’s worth seeing what’s out there, as new solutions and modes of supply come to market all the time.
Work with your vendors, including your industrial gas provider, as partners – not as commodity product suppliers. Give them an opportunity to understand your workflow process so that they can customize a supply chain strategy that meets your project’s unique needs.
A few years ago, a customer had a challenge for Airgas instead of a standard bid request. They wanted to improve reliability and increase productivity while still meeting their project specs and adapting to their location parameters. This included seeing if there was something better than staging individual gas cylinders or bundles of packaged gas cylinders around the jobsite.
At the time, Airgas had just started to introduce its Dynamic on-site gas mixer, which provides accuracy and repeatability along with portability – no power or on-site calibration equipment is needed. Once the Airgas team calculated the jobsite’s gas needs, they determined that a liquid supply system paired with the power-free mixer on a skid would keep their project running smoothly.
The crew at the jobsite was able to keep the specific type of gas needed without moving countless cylinders, which optimized welder productivity. In addition, the issue of reconciling the number of cylinders and unexpected invoices associated from discrepancies was eliminated.
Now, Airgas offers a variety of its Jobsite Skids, including a smaller DOT transport-compliant version that can be transported for refills as well as larger size vessels with telemetry capability that sends an alert when it’s time for delivery to the jobsite. This can include a configuration that allows 24/7 on-site self-serve transfill from the larger vessel to smaller portable vessels.
The biggest cost on any construction site is labor. If you can figure out a way for welders to weld longer and more consistently and produce a higher quality of welds, it can improve your overall project efficiency.
Consider the welding consumable supply arrangement you have in place. How long are your welders actually striking an arc? Chances are, they are overcoming and adapting to their environment rather than spending most of their workday doing what they do best.
For example, rather than asking your welders to center their work around packs of cylinders or moving cylinders around a jobsite, newer options like the Jobsite Skid can supply up to 25 welders from one single source, with as many as two gas blends and one pure gas output simultaneously. No more dealing with inconsistency between cylinders and no more time wasted moving cylinders around the jobsite.
In addition to improving welder productivity, the skid supply mode is inherently safer and easier to manage as compared to single cylinders or even packs of cylinders. One skid unit can replace nearly 100 cylinders on a jobsite. This means less logistics, less cylinders to move, fewer cylinders to track and less time waiting on new cylinders.
Newer durable “cage” pallets can be lifted or moved with a crane or fork truck on-site to where the work is being done, so you have less moving parts and a safer jobsite. Digital telemetry and GPS elements enhance security and allow for automatic reordering, so there’s less to physically track and remember to order before your supply runs out.
It’s helping gain efficiencies on a number of fronts: logistics, supply chain management, reliability, consistency, portability and output.
Managing welding consumables on jobsites comes with inherent challenges. You have to predict and accurately scale things up and down over the course of a project. There will be peaks and valleys throughout the process.
In most instances, jobsite mobilizations are complex and time consuming. Customized supply chain solutions such as the Jobsite Skid, Portable Bulk and EZ-Pad (in lieu of poured concrete pads) can simplify and fast track the mobilization process. The skids are delivered completely assembled, certified, calibrated, and filled and ready to use within hours, not days.
Once up and running, your project will, undoubtedly, be pushing to make up time or needing to add capacity at peaks, but you won’t know how much gas your team will go through. It’s challenging to keep pace when you’re getting pushed for urgent next-day delivery requests for more cylinders. However, if you have a supply chain solution that includes telemetry, you or the supplier can monitor supply levels. You can even forecast usage to automate the refills as your team increases or decreases production.
As the project comes to a close and you’re cleaning up the jobsite, there’s only one skid to manage, and it can be picked up just as it was delivered, with little to no time spent to decommission or deconstruct it.
So how do you know when to consider customized solutions, including on-site gas mixing, for you next project? It’s always worth asking your supplier to review your plan and workflow process as part of your strategy in determining your requirements. As a general rule of thumb, if your project will have 20-plus welders, will last eight months or more and could benefit from portability, then a customized on-site solution may be right for you.
Suppliers are in business to help customers be competitive and are constantly working on solutions to customer challenges. Customized supply chain solutions can be used for new plant construction, commissioning, production, and turnaround or maintenance projects.
Consider challenging your standard supply chain methods and investigate customized options. This way, you’re not stuck repeating the costly “three bid and buy” process and missing valuable project opportunities.