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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napipelines.com FEBRUARY 2017 | North American Oil & Gas Pipelines 23 plans, quizzes, student activities, videos and PowerPoint presentations. Recog- nizing the younger generation's procliv- ity toward technology, the company also launched VRTEX, a virtual reality arc welding trainer — like a video game for welders. It can be used for recruiting, employee screening and to augment tra- ditional training, allowing the trainee to practice welding skills without burning plate or electrode. Mechanized vs. Manual Lincoln Electric's offerings for the pipeline industry include manual weld- ing products, as well as semi-automatic and mechanized welding. However, the company recognizes a move toward more automation. When asked if this trend was due to the industry's shrinking work- force concerns, Fleming dismissed the idea. Instead, he says it's more about the project specs and productivity fac- tors on the jobsite. "There is an evolution toward mech- anized welding, but it's not necessarily about workforce issues," Fleming says. "It's based on the opportunity a partic- ular project provides, whether there's flat terrain or dealing with larger di- ameters. That's what's driving owners to look at mechanized welding as a so- lution. But there's still a desire in the industry for manual welding. You have more control with a skilled worker." Byall says pipeline welders are among the most skilled welders around. "They're like artists," she says. To take advantage of the overall trend toward mechanized welding, Lincoln Electric has made a number of acquisitions in recent years to ex- pand its automated welding offerings, including Arc Products, designer and manufacturer of MIG and TIG orbital welding systems for a wide range of pipe diameters. Staying in Cleveland In addition to its headquarters in Cleveland, Lincoln Electric has another manufacturing facility about 25 miles east in Mentor, Ohio. In total, the com- pany has more than 40 manufacturing locations, including operations and joint ventures in 19 countries, includ- ing Canada and Mexico, and a global network of distributors and sales offices in more than 160 countries. But there's something special about Cleveland. "We take a lot of pride in manufac- turing in the Rust Belt," Fleming says. "A majority of our products used in the pipeline industry are made here in Cleveland. We have manufacturing in other parts of the world, but it's mainly for distribution in those countries." Pipeline Down, Turn Around While the pipeline sector has strug- gled in recent years, Lincoln Electric has continued to focus on that market. "Lincoln Electric continued to work on improving our products, as there have been many smaller pipelines be- ing built," Fleming says. "We never lost sight of the industry coming back. I be- lieve we're in for a strong year in 2017. We haven't dropped our focus. With the Dakota Access Pipeline and the upcom- ing NEXUS and Rover pipelines in our own backyard, we have to be as pre- pared as possible for the opportunity." Bradley Kramer is managing editor of Nor th American Oil & Gas Pipelines. Contact him at bkramer@ benjaminmedia.com .

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