[By Rhonda Zatezalo]
On the water, broken parts and structural damage can put lives at risk and cost thousands of dollars in delays. Bad weather, heavy loads and strong waves make timely repairs a necessity. With a service history spanning 125 years, Fraser Shipyard understands these challenges. In their drive to provide quality service and value to their customers, they have found solutions for shipboard welding that are both safer and faster than standard welding methods.
On Lake Superior to Superior, Wisconsin, Fraser Shipyard and its sister companies, Lake Assault Boats and Northern Engineering (NECO), provide repairs and new construction to the Great Lakes marine industry. Their clients include large lake freighters, police and fire departments, the United States Coast Guard, and many other work boats navigating the country’s inland lakes. Fraser and Northern both offer on-call service 24 hours a day, every day of the year. During peak season, repairs are often made in progress to keep shipments on schedule. This is especially true of lake freighters whose structural and mechanical components experience fatigue and wear from wave action and the loads these vessels carry. When called, teams from Fraser Shipyards or Northern Engineering will send crews to repair components in place, install newly designed parts, or deliver and weld new steel in place without the vessel changing course. Their teams need reliable welding machines that operate in the harshest weather conditions, all year round.
For decades, installing on-board welding has proven difficult and time consuming due to the large machines, long cables, gas tanks and generators required. Moving between decks while dragging long cables was tedious and created tripping hazards for the crew. Big machines cluttered the aisles or couldn’t fit where needed. In search of a better way, Fraser discovered a lightweight, portable, battery-powered welder, yet strong enough to weld quality joints to heavy-gauge steel frames. Their favorite on-board welder is the Fronius AccuPocket. It welds both stick and TIG and is smaller than most carry-on luggage. A single battery charge is sufficient for most jobs, and the battery is rechargeable from a standard 110 outlet.
With no cables to run or generator to move, and only a small gas cylinder needed for the TIG function, installation time has been reduced by 75% in some cases. The small size also makes it easier to pass through narrow hallways and between decks. But don’t let this size fool you; AccuPocket is a feature-rich welder with the user-friendly design, durability and innovative technology that Fronius users have come to expect, ideal for the extreme welding conditions on board ships.
Keeping a fleet of aging lakers afloat and operating on schedule is no easy task. Many ships have been in continuous service for over fifty years and spare parts are not readily available. Responding to a need in the marine industry, Northern Engineering has been a leader in engineering, on-site and ashore machining services since 1916. In winter their main challenge is the freezing weather, but during the season main, when delays can be costly. $ 10,000 an hour, their biggest challenge is time. As Mike Ossanna, NECO Senior Foreman, says: âIt’s invaluable to be able to catch it. [the AccuPocket] like a suitcase and go to the job site and weld.
Not only does Northern work hand-in-hand with Fraser Shipyard and the marine industry, but it provides on-call mechanical repair and overhaul services to the agriculture, mining and energy industries, as well as the United States Coast Guard and the United States. US Geological Survey. With such a variety of mechanical repairs, they need versatile solutions for welding. For on-site repairs, the portable welder is their first choice, but they also use Fronius technology in the shop for MIG and TIG welding.
Image courtesy of Fronius
Although the AccuPocket has made on-board repairs safer and easier, Fraser Industries also uses Fronius equipment in the workshop. Lake Assault Boats, the custom construction arm of Fraser Industries, designs and builds vessels for the military, police and firefighters, as well as pleasure boats for the tourism industry like the River Walk neighborhood of San Antonio. . Their welding challenges come from custom design rather than portability. Fronius technology is an important asset in the construction of mission ships. Lake Assault uses the TPS / i, a touchscreen interface welder, to do the high quality aluminum welding they need.
âOne of our first challenges is to create a specialized design from our customers’ ideas and wish lists,â says Chad DuMars, vice president of operations at Lake Assault Boats. âWe have learned to listen well and ask the right questions to create a design that meets the needs of the customer on a daily basis. For example, a fire boat we are building today will not be the same as the fire boat we are going to build next month for another customer. The specific welding challenges we face include the size of what we are welding, as well as the shape and positioning. It can be difficult to get in and lay a good quality weld. Some boats are designed for speed, and others for transport, so each hull has a different shape. There are nevertheless some commonalities. With Fronius equipment we can program these jobs into memory and it delivers quality weld every time with minimal adjustments.
Although Fraser Industries companies provide different services, each is customer-focused, with an emphasis on excellence, value and safety. These core values ââalso extend to their staff. Since the Great Lakes marine industry is seasonal, any business can ask its workers to help with the work of another business. This allows team members to work all year round as much as possible. Companies are also able to relocate crews to meet tight deadlines, such as the large workboat order they filled in November for the city of San Antonio. Speaking of their employees and that deadline, DuMars had this to say, âWhen I think back to the quality of our team’s work and think of the challenges, I only think of compliments to give our guys because that they did such a good job on it.
Fronius welders are ship-friendly and easy to use, and easy to learn. Familiar technology makes moving employees to different jobs even easier. As one welder put it, âThe machine almost self-corrects if my hand gets lost. I’ve been doing this for a long time and it seems to make me an even better welder.
The Fraser team believes that the right tool provides the best value and the safest working conditions. With over a century of experience, they have found their welding solutions on land and on board in Fronius technology.
Rhonda Zazetalo is a freelance writer and graphic designer from Northwest Indiana. She has been writing articles for welding industry magazines since 2013.
The products and services described in this press release are not endorsed by The Maritime Executive.