Meadow Burke – Universal Conduit case study

Robotic MIG Welding Operation Increases Uptime, Consolidates Inventory By Switching to Tweco® Universal Conduit Liner

By Indy Datta, Brand Management, Victor Technologies

For nearly eight decades, Meadow Burke® has been recognized as a leader in the engineering and manufacturing of concrete accessory products. Some of its components include bracing, bridge decking, bridge hangers, euro-thread forming products, coil form anchors, epoxy products, concrete repair powders, liquid form release agents, rebar splicing, bar supports and post-tension products.

The company has four manufacturing locations, including one in Converse, Texas, where the company’s heavy stamping equipment includes two 750-ton presses, an automated plasma cutting table and 11 robotic and four manual welding stations. The concrete accessory products made here use a lot of heavy steel; 5/8 and 3/4” is not uncommon, and several components range up to 1” thick.

To weld steel this thick, the company uses an AWS E70-C metal cored wire, running 1/16” diameter in the robots and .052” diameter in its manual welding operations. Most of the welds must conform to AWS D1.1, and every weld is visually inspected. Even though its end products are ultimately hidden from sight, the company takes great pride in its weld quality.

Because many of the components are intricate and require circumferential welds, the robot arm rotates frequently. Combined with the heat of the weld, constant pressure on the automated MIG gun liners causes them fail in as little as three weeks.

“After doing some destructive testing, we found that the wire actually cut a groove into the liner,” says Albert Orona, Maintenance Manager, Meadow Burke.

“When a liner fails, you can bank on 45 minutes of downtime,” adds Andy Osborne, Assistant Lead, Meadow Burke. In addition, a failed liner can interfere with wire feed performance. “Now not only have you got to fix a robot, you have to fix a weld and spend time grinding and hand welding,” says Osborne.

Conduit Liner
Tweco Universal Conduit liners provide longer service for Meadow Burke’s robotic welders, decreasing downtime.

Meadow Burke uses robotic MIG guns from a major manufacturer, so they had assumed that the liners that came with the guns would offer good performance.

“A liner is a liner is a liner…unless it’s a Tweco® Universal Conduit liner,” says Bryan Young, an outside sales representative for 3D Welding & Industrial Supply, San Marcos, Texas. Young helped install the automated systems at Meadow Burke and has been servicing the account for 15 years.

Highly conscious of wanting to optimize welding operations, Young recently introduced Orona and Osborne to the Tweco Universal Conduit liner. These patent-pending, two-piece liners feature a liner crimped with a threaded wire guide and adapters that make it compatible with most major MIG gun brands. Further, Tweco liners feature a round piano wire (a tempered high-carbon steel) that minimizes drag, enhances wire feed performance and extends liner life, especially compared to liners that use a flat wire with a larger surface area that could create more resistance and faster wear.

“Companies such as Meadow Burke can now use the same, premium quality liner in their robotic and hand-held MIG applications,” says Young, noting that the company can run both its .052” and 1/16” wires through a 1/16” liner.

“By switching to the Tweco Universal Conduit, we were able to eliminate problems related to wire sticking just because the wire isn’t wearing a groove in the liner. The downtime is minimized, and the liners are actually very price competitive,” says Orona. As an added benefit, “The Tweco Universal liner allows us to inventory just one liner for hand-held and the robotic guns, even though the guns are different brands.”

“Our intentions are to move forward with the Tweco liner,” confirms Osborne. “I can take a liner and put it in a robot. I can take a liner out of a robot and put it in a hand welder. I put this liner anywhere I need to put it to make an operation run. Before we had to have two brands of liners taking up two times the shelf space because they were not universal.”

Tweco Conduit Liner
Using the Tweco Universal Conduit liner, a customer needs to stock only one liner and adapters for each different brand of gun, robotic or hand-held. This reduces inventory carrying costs and simplifies inventory management.

Tweco Universal Conduit liners are available for wire diameters 0.030” through 3/32” and are suitable for use with solid wires, stainless and mild-steel flux cored wires.