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Application Group Project

Jan. 11, 2014

Once in a while, everything falls together just as you would like, and then…  

During the second half of last year, the Applications Group had the opportunity to see the Sales/Demonstration process work just as expected.  Sometime around the middle of 2013 Norm Sted, National Sales Manager, received a phone call from a contractor, Technon.  The customer stated that he had done some initial research and determined that our product was first, fully capable of performing the project he was planning on bidding and second, the best priced solution he could find.  

Norm discussed the opportunity with the gentleman and determined that further detail would need to be supplied so that we could be confident that it would be a good fit.  Norm provided what information he gathered from his discussion to the Application Group and also contacted Jorge Puchaicela, our Sales Representative for the customer’s region.  A series of emails were exchanged in which the details of the project were exposed.  The project appeared to be a perfect fit for the Piper product line.  The expected pipe was 30 inches in diameter with a heavy wall thickness.  The various weld process options were discussed and in order to bring persons expert in this topic into the discussion, Lincoln Electric was included.  After further communication the basics were determined and initial, budgetary quotations were provided.

During follow-up discussions and emails it was determined that the customer was not fully versed on the details of mechanized pipe welding so some education was provided.  As we all know, a first- hand view goes a long way to understanding.  In order to make that happen, the customer was invited to our facility in Canonsburg for a demonstration of the Piper Bug System on 24 inch O.D., 1/2 inch wall pipe.  As this customer was not familiar with how the full weld was accomplished, it was decided that 2 full Piper Bug systems would be prepared and available, just in case the customer wanted to see everything in operation at once.  Two sample weld joints were prepared and the system was assembled and set up on the weld joints.  In order to provide the very best possible information for this customer, a request was made of the Pipeline Applications Group at Lincoln Electric for one of their specialists to attend and provide support during the demonstration.  

When the customer arrived the demonstration began with David Genske of Lincoln Electric providing a short but educational explanation of the STT process used for the Root Pass.  David then performed an STT demonstration weld on the joint in the 24 inch pipe.  This provided the customer the opportunity to get an up close look at the positions and adjustments the manual welder must make when performing the Root Pass.  After the weld was complete, the customer was able to make a very thorough inspection of the weld itself, viewing both the inside and outside of the pipe.



Once the customer had inspected the Root Pass to his satisfaction, the ring rail and Piper Bug were installed and mechanized fill and cap passes were performed by Bug-O Applications Technician, Isaac Guest.  Throughout the process the customer could get right up close to the tractor and process to learn as much as possible.  As the welds were performed, Isaac explained and demonstrated the details and nuances of the Flux Cored process along with details and advantages of mechanized welding and specifically the features and functions of the Piper Bug System.

After a morning of demonstrating the equipment and answering questions, the group met for an open discussion, led by Jorge Puchaicela, primarily centered on how the equipment would be used, detailed explanations of expected production and machine options and pricing.  Topics included deposition for various processes, how joint design relates to deposition, how access to a joint would affect certain aspects of the weld process and realistic expectations of operator time requirements.  Further, considerable time was spent discussing the similarities and differences between the Piper Bug and the Piper Plus systems.  After much deliberation, sufficient details were defined so as to allow the creation of a spreadsheet (see Figure 1) providing data for deposition and operation time.  This was provided to the customer for their use in determining the necessary quantity of machines to perform the required welding in the time allowed.  Also, it was determined that the Piper Bug would provide the best functionality at the lowest relative price.


Once the customer was confident in the quantity of machines needed, the standard quoting procedure was followed with questions and answers regarding spare and consumable parts.  The customer was pleased with the quotation and issued a purchase order with intent to have employees of his company come to Canonsburg for training in mid-October.  After further emails and phone conversations the training was scheduled and, since the pipe and Piper Bug systems had been assembled for the demonstration, these same units were held for training of the customer.  All was going as planned as the customers arrived for the training to commence.  After a quick visual familiarization with the equipment we proceeded to weld and all was going as planned.  It was too good to be true.


After an initial weld was made, one of the trainees began to ask about the in-field set-up of the system and why we had recommended the Invertec V350 as opposed to the newer and more advanced S350 PowerWave.  As it turned out, this trainee was much more familiar with the project than anyone with whom we had spoken in the past.  In the time between the initial demonstrations and the training, the customer had the opportunity to learn about the similarities and differences between these two power sources.  Also, one very important piece of information had failed to be provided to Bug-O during the research process.  Even though this was not a typical cross country pipeline, it was assumed that the standard pipeline method would be used.  It is typical for a pipeline to have multiple systems that are deployed in a series of shacks that progress along the pipeline in assembly-line fashion.  The overall assembly progression that had been planned by the customer for the overall project would not allow this.  Therefore, all welds, from root all the way out to the cap, would be performed in one stationary location.  Additionally, company ownership preferred that they purchase the latest technology so as to have the most flexibility for future application.  

In typical Bug-O fashion the team was able to adjust to the requested changes and new quotations were prepared for the Piper Plus.  The customer was pleased with the rapid response and purchase orders were changed to reflect the purchase of 6 Piper Plus systems.  Then the issue of delivery reared its menacing head.  By now it was late October.  The customer required the equipment be shipped before the end of the year.  Through much communication between the Sales and Manufacturing Groups the shipping schedule was actually improved and the product was available to ship ahead of schedule.

At this writing the project is on schedule.  Jorge is in regular contact with our customer and training will be scheduled as soon as the customer is ready.  Stay tuned to the Bug-O Newsletter for further information on this exciting project.