North American Oil & Gas Pipelines

FEB 2017

North American Oil & Gas Pipelines covers the news shaping the business of oil and gas pipeline construction and maintenance in North America, including pipeline installation methods, integrity management innovations and managerial strategies.

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22 North American Oil & Gas Pipelines | FEBRUARY 2017 Lincoln Electric provides the whole gamut of products needed for mainline pipeline contractors, from consumables, engine drives and mechanized equip- ment for joining pipe, as well as safety gear like helmets and protective wear. Despite a downturn in the pipeline industry over the last two and half years, Lincoln Electric saw an opportunity to expand its offerings in the market, says Lisa Byall, portfolio manager for weld- ing consumables. "Although pipe has changed over the years, welding is still basically the same," says Byall, referring to increased pipe strength. "The biggest concerns welders have are consistency and repeatability." Lincoln Electric embarked on a mis- sion to improve electrodes used in various styles of welding, specific to the pipeline sector. The company also launched a new welder generator for the market, all while oil prices bottomed out and projects were being delayed. Through a rigorous research and de- velopment process, Lincoln Electric asked its customers to evaluate its elec- trodes alongside competitor products. "We felt it was very important to get the voice of our customers," Byall says. "We engaged our customers at every step, knowing we were going to expose some warts along the way." The result was the Pipeliner Arc 80 stick electrode, which has become one of Lincoln Electric's highest selling products. The Pipeliner brand of elec- trodes were tested by engaging key pipe- line customers and by welding actual pipe during development, not just flat steel as required by the American Weld- ing Society (AWS) standards. Byall says the company developed pipeline test re- ports for the industry to provide data on what to expect when welding different types of pipe. "We wanted to go above and beyond with our pipe test report," Fleming says about the AWS standards. "We visited a number of pipeline sites over the years, including the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Flanagan Pipeline, to get an idea of what our customers needed." Another product Lincoln Electric launched in the last year is its Cross Country 300 portable engine drive, which allows users to easily switch from manual stick to semi-automated wire welding processes. It was specifically designed for pipeline welders on the go. Maintaining Quality Quality control is a major factor in the success of any manufacturing com- pany. Lincoln Electric is no different. However, a large part of the quality control process is the responsibility of the piece workers. While they are paid by the number of products they pro- duce, they are also rated on the quality of those products, which in turn is fac- tored into the amount they receive for the year-end bonus. But Lincoln Electric also controls quality on the front end, with a system to ensure its steel suppliers meet rigor- ous standards, Byall says. This is another area where the company goes above and beyond AWS requirements. "We have a unique manufacturing and quality assurance system," she says. "We have a limited number of steel suppliers who must meet our own set of standards. We have steel analysts who work with and qualify our suppli- ers and inspect incoming steel. Suppli- ers must avoid using scrap, and Lin- coln Electric does not 'spot buy.' And we often visit to audit the steel suppli- ers. We require mills to meet Lincoln Electric's own requirements beyond AWS. Everything we do is about con- sistency, consistency, consistency." Byall adds that the company has a similar process in place for the chemi- cals used in its consumable products. Welding School Turns 100 In addition to manufacturing welding products, Lincoln Electric also operates the oldest continuously operating weld- ing school in the United States. The school will be 100 years old this year. To celebrate the centennial, the company is building a brand-new $30 million training center across the street from the main manufacturing facility where the school is currently housed. The Lincoln Electric Welding School offers introductory courses for new welders, as well as more comprehensive classes to broaden welders' skills. Flem- ing expects the new building to open in the fall. In addition to the new building, Lin- coln Electric has invested in training in other ways. The company developed an online Education Portal, to supply qual- ified schools with discounted gear and supplies. The company also launched a comprehensive welding and cutting cur- riculum package for welding educators, called U/LINC, which delivers lesson Below: Automation is a growing trend in pipe- line welding. Welding "bugs" can accommo- date a wide range of diameters, but the jobsite conditions must be right. Right: The Lincoln Electric Welding School celebrates 100 years in 2017. The school is currently housed in Lincoln Electric's main factory in Euclid, Ohio, but a new building is being built across the street.

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