Wilson Transformer Company (WTC) needed to improve their pipe manufacturing process, finding the solution on YouTube.
Headland Machinery speaks with WTC’s Manufacturing Manager, James Wilson, and Production Manager, Dominic Colaneri
Designing, manufacturing and servicing power transformers is big business; one that WTC has been a part of since 1933.
Manufactured for the power industry, each product is routine-tested for performance and each design is subjected to type-tests including temperature rise, and lightning impulse.
With such strict guidelines to meet quality assurance and OHS regulations, the transformers contain pipework to connect interface points down to ground level and eliminate the need for servicing transformers from height.
This pipework was made from mild steel and required blasting and painting on the inside and outside of the pipe to prevent contamination (before and after welding). After spending enormous hours in this process , WTC knew there had to be a more efficient way.
By changing the material to stainless steel, this would eliminate the contamination risk and requirement for blasting and painting, however the fabrication component needed a solution.
The powers of the Internet led WTC to SOCO
Tube bending machines were available on the market, and WTC knew stainless steel welding practices were very well established. Production Manager Dominic Colaneri was key to the research and commissioning process. “One of our key engineering requirements was to produce a one diameter bend in an 80mm pipe to allow for maximum flexibility in design. We knew this was difficult for any supplier of a machine to match, but the discovery on YouTube of a SOCO tube bending machine initiated discussions between the two companies.
“One of our key engineering requirements was to produce a one diameter bend in an 80mm pipe to allow for maximum flexibility in design. We knew this was difficult for any supplier of a machine to match, but the discovery on YouTube of a SOCO tube bending machine initiated discussions between the two companies.
“Following the discovery of the bending machine and the required welding equipment, a business case was submitted to senior management. The design methodology change, manufacturing processes, and procurement of equipment were all considered and then the decision to purchase the machine was made,” he told us.
With all new technologies, come brand new challenges
With all new challenges that face a business, human nature kicks in and there was hesitation towards change.
According to Dominic, “there was a reluctance on the shop floor to change from the way we were doing things. We had to encourage staff to take on new roles and sell the new process.”
Following the implementation of the new design methodology, machine and new welding practices, the WTC employees could see the benefits for themselves. They became more comfortable with the new machine process, realising that while the machine did the bulk of work, the operators needed to understand and manage the workflow.
Investing in the SOCO has encouraged ideas for potential future opportunities
With the new efficiencies, particularly with what the SOCO machine has brought, WTC have estimated a production labour reduction of 80%.
“With the SOCO Tube Bending machine, we’re now able to complete the job from start to finish in the one location under improved working conditions. We have probably underestimated how beneficial this machine investment has been and we’re kicking ourselves that we didn’t look into it sooner,” Manufacturing Manager James Wilson told us.
“One of our key aspects we sell our product on its quality. The combination of moving to stainless steel, the implementation of the SOCO bending machine, and the new design methodology has allowed us to produce a high quality product with accuracy that has eliminated previous rework on pipes which ranged from pipes not fitting to fixing up paint damage,” he also told us.
About Wilson Transformer Company
Wilson Transformer Company is the leading Australian transformer manufacturer, founded in 1933. WTC provides transformer-engineering solutions from design, manufacture and test, to installation, maintenance, refurbishment and whole-of-life management.
With two world class manufacturing operations in Australia, WTC produce a comprehensive range of distribution transformers, compact substations and power transformers from 16kVA up to 550MVA, 400kV. The WTC service team consists of over 70 employees with specialist knowledge and skills of power transformers.
Working collaboratively with customers, WTC use their unique experience and knowledge in engineering, manufacturing, logistics and services to innovate and implement original solutions to meet their customer’s needs.