Automated Fill Island
into Rewarding New Markets
Project: Weiler Welding
As it approaches its 100-yr. anniversary, family-owned distributorship Weiler Welding has a fresh, new look that has it positioned for another 100 years of business.
Launched in 1920 out of a garage in Dayton, OH, Weiler's growth has been consistent and significant. Through the 1960s its Dayton operation focused on providing welding supplies and filling oxygen and CO2 cylinders. Weiler's foray into nitrogen came in 1971 with the acquisition of an Airco plant in nearby Moraine, OH.
Even as both facilities were remodeled and expanded over the years, there comes a time when it's best to start fresh. "We'd been adapting our operations to the older buildings, and that really became inefficient as we grew," said one of the firm's owners, Jim Weiler. "It was time to design and lay out a new building that fit the needs of the fill operations."
Charting a New Course
From late 2013 to early in 2014, the firm transferred and consolidated operations from its Dayton and Moraine facilities into one, new location in Moraine.
The new 12-acre site houses a pair of state-of-the-art buildings. A 35,000-sq.-ft. building houses offices, a retail store and warehouse storage. Next door is the cylinder-filling and distribution operations in a brand new 15,000-sq.- ft. building, outfitted with a new Weldcoa automated 90-ft long traversing linear manifold fill island. Two stations fill oxygen, another pair fill inert/mix gases, and the island also includes auto-fill liquid and CO2 fill manifolds. Weldcoa also outfitted a lab for analysis, and a manual blend cell for filling inert and flammable mixtures.
"We looked at several plant-design possibilities with Don Renner, Weldcoa's sales engineering manager," explained Weiler general manager Dave Radominski. "Because we were already using the Weldcoa pallet system, it was easy to stream in the flow of pallets into the new facility."
"Based on our volumes and typical flow, we chose the traversing manifold setup," Radominski continued. "We pull the pallets right up, roll them onto the island at the staging area for filling, and move filled pallets off on the opposite side of the island. Some go onto the truck, others are staged for future needs."
More Efficient, with Plenty of Capacity
The new fill plant opened in May 2014. Based on reduced pump utilization compared to its previous fill plant (equipped with stationary manifolds and filling based on temperature and pressure). "We're much more efficient than we were before," said Weiler. "And, we have plenty of capacity available to accommodate new business and new customers. I'd estimate that we're at least twice as productive now, due to the automation and the speed at which we can fill."
When Weiler's team went in search of a fill-island supplier for its new high-profile plant, Weldcoa quickly rose to the top of the list noted Jim Weiler "Once we became committed to automating the fill process, Weldcoa's capabilities, reliability and previous track record (following several customer visits) set them apart. Their ability to show us several similar installations in operation was a big help as we went through the specification and design process."
"We've experienced complete success and satisfaction with this project," Weiler summarized, "directly attributable to Weldcoa being able to deliver on what they promised, and their ability to adapt to our unique needs."
Among noted and appreciated fill-island features, said Radominski: Quick-connects on the pigtails, and automation featuring built-in fill recipes that eliminate the guesswork. "Our crew loves the automation," he said. "They caught on right away on how to use it, and really appreciate how the technology makes their jobs easier. It dramatically increases our accuracy." Eighty percent of Weiler's gas business is for industrial customers - welding, laser cutting, etc., and they do a lot of business with the government, including the nearby Wright Patterson Air Force Base.