Back to the front: Getting the best out of welding gases

After many years, Air Liquide came back to National Manufacturing Week (NMW) in 2019. Manufacturers’ Monthly speaks to Arnaud Voisin, marketing manager of Air Liquide Australia, about the buzz around its booth.

2019 has been significant for Air Liquide in Australia because they have decided
to announce their return to centre stage with a large booth at the recent NMW 2019 in May. The company decided that the timing was right to come back to the fore. This is because they believed that it was the right time and platform to let Australian manufacturers know of its innovations and products which can save their operations time and money. In addition, showcasing at NMW is a great opportunity to discuss with field workers, listen to its customers’ pain points and get feedback on its product and service offerings. It was also a great time for Air Liquide’s experts to demonstrate their value and discuss about the company’s latest innovations used by manufacturers worldwide.

The differentiating factor
Air Liquide sees the shielding gases for arc welding differently. In the 1990s, the company launched ARCAL, its premium innovative gas product line for arc welding. The aim was to achieve for “Quality in Every Dimension” through improvement of productivity, quality of the finished product, while prioritising the environment and welder working conditions.

Over the years, ARCAL has gained the trust of welders and now, in a market featuring a multitude of similar products, Air Liquide aims at going further by helping its customers with a smarter offer. The company believes that this “smarter” offer does not have to be complex, according to Arnaud Voisin, marketing manager of Air Liquide Australia.

“Actually, simple is a lot smarter. It’s only then that our customers can concentrate on the issues that truly count to their welding operations. This includes ensuring the confidence that comes with a gas solution that’s reliable, simple and always high performing,” Voisin told Manufacturers’ Monthly.

In this respect, Voisin points out that Air Liquide offers four high-performing argon/
CO2 mixtures: Prime, Chrome, Speed and Force – these fulfil all TIG, MIG, MAG and Plasma welding needs on carbon steel, stainless steel and light alloys. These four ready-to-weld argon mixtures cover practically any welding situation or circumstance. Each one is designed to be reliable, simple and high-performing each and every time, no matter when, where or how much is needed.

However, if that little bit extra is required, especially when the circumstance demands a product ready for particular high-end specifications, Air Liquide has its technical line of products, which includes specific shielding mixtures designed for refined needs and performance. These are of course, recommended after technical discussion with the company’s welding experts.

“During the show, we proudly partnered with Kemppi. They used our ARCAL Chrome to perform on-stand welding demos with their welding equipment. We are also very proud to be able to subsequently show to our visitors the resulting clean and bright weld with good wetting thanks to carefully selected CO2 content and low H2O and N2 impurities,” said Voisin.

Safety, savings and other highlights at NMW
Voisin said that many visitors were intrigued by Air Liquide’s Skid Tank, which was displayed on site.

“It is quite unusual to display a tank of this size. We wanted to demonstrate the simplicity of the installation by bringing our 3,000 litre Skid Tank to the show,” said Voisin.

The Skid Tank is a cryogenic vessel with an integrated ambient vaporiser, which is ready to install with a skid serving as foundation. It is featured with Air Liquide’s new real-time solar-powered DALIA telemetry system, which ensures automatic re-ordering, real-time consumption and level checking anywhere and at any time.

Voisin explained that this supply mode is particularly adequate for large volume consumption of pure nitrogen or oxygen during laser cutting operations to replace cylinder packs – something that can be costly.

“Large workshops should also consider this supply mode for welding, not only when using
pure argon shielding gas, but also for argon mixtures which can be supplied by mixing onsite pure argon and CO2 with our Dynamic Onsite Mixer. The typical consumption that the Skid Tank can be an economical solution for is between 400 and 4,000 Nm3/month. However, this has to be assessed on a case-by-case basis,” said Voisin.

Air Liquide also received many questions from visitors about their displayed SMARTOP and ALTOP cylinder tops. Their onsite experts took this opportunity to discuss safety with visiting welders. Although most workers know that safety is paramount during welding and oxy-fuel cutting operations, the risks related to pressurised gases are usually underestimated.

“Unfortunately, it is still common to see unstrapped cylinders in operations or cylinders being moved without gloves. This event (NMW 2019) was an occasion for us to remind our visitors of the risks related to high- pressure. Argon may be an inert gas, but a 200-bar cylinder becomes a rocket when it is falling and breaking,” said Voisin.

To ensure safety and efficiency, Air Liquide has decided to equip all its ARCAL cylinders with the SMARTOP valve. This is an on-off lever replacing the manual rotating valve to quickly shut down the flow in case of accidental release. It features a permanent content gauge and an ergonomic cap protecting the valve in case of a fall.

There were also a number of existing customers who came by to tell Air Liquide how much time they had saved by using the ALTOP, which is the integrated regulator premium top.

“I remember this particular existing customer of ours, the manager of a welding workshop near Melbourne, telling me ‘You can’t imagine how much time I have gained in my welding workshop thanks to this feature! There is no need to constantly unscrew and screw back regulators and, with the quick connect inlet, it is so simple!’ It was very rewarding for us to know that we can bring this type of efficiency to a customer,” said Voisin.

At the booth, visiting tradies and home welders were also interested to know more about ALbee, which is Air Liquide’s “Buy your own” cylinder offer.

“There are numerous companies which offer small businesses to buy their own cylinders of argon, oxygen or acetylene, but with standard manual valves. Air Liquide, on the other hand, provides peace of mind and ready-to-operate cylinders equipped with our MINITOP
and its integrated regulator and quick-connect features,” said Voisin.

The takeaway from NMW 2019?
Voisin said that throughout the duration of the event, there was non-stop traffic through the booth and that Air Liquide had generated nearly a hundred business opportunities together with countless inspiring interactions with welders, workshop managers, engineers, and tradies.

“It was also such a pleasure for our teams to network and exchange with other exhibitors. Finally, we received visits from many university students eager to understand more about the physics of the Skid Tank or the role of gases in additive manufacturing,” said Voisin.

“So, it was not only a successful presentation of our solutions to manufacturers, but we may also have triggered one or two callings to come and work at Air Liquide as graduate engineers. In other words, it was a great success!”

Leave a Reply