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MDF Engineering Case Study

Air Products’ Gastrak® Service Delivers reduction in gas consumption for MDF Engineering

For over 15 years, Air Products has supplied MDF Engineering, Antrim, with a wide range of quality industrial gases for its cutting and welding processes. Following an on-site analysis and review, Air Products has supported MDF Engineering in reducing its usage of both Liquid Argon and Carbon Dioxide by a remarkable 40%.

The Overview

MDF Engineering is at the forefront of manufacturing components for the transport industry, most recently extending this expertise to industries as diverse as offshore oil, mining, power generation, construction, aerospace and general engineering.

MDF Trailers with sister group SDC Trailers, part of the CIMC Group, operates from an 85,000 square foot factory. They employ a team of 100 highly skilled engineers and fabricators who are responsible for laser and plasma cutting machines, press brakes, submerged arc, MIG and TIG welding equipment. Air Products supplies industrial gases via bulk cryogenic liquid storage tanks and a specialist on-site mixing system. It is then delivered to all welding workstations via an internal pipeline distribution system.

The challenge

In welding operations, gas is often wasted through equipment leaks, pre-weld surge and excessive flow rates. Our dedicated account manager for MDF Engineering proposed an on-site evaluation of the shielding gases used within their welding operation, which was conducted by one of Air Products welding specialists.

The focus was on understanding the efficiency of gas used in all of the welding and cutting operations. This was achieved by our specialist assessing the welding operations, using independently calibrated monitoring equipment to carry out ‘before’ and ‘after’ evaluations. As part of this initial assessment, they identified opportunities to improve gas control equipment, enhance safety and reduce leaks. Critically, both the gas usage and flow rate were analysed, allowing excessive flow rates to be identified and subsequently eliminated.

Gas Flow Rate (l/min)

Flow samples were taken over various welding stations within MDF Engineering’s welding production workshop areas. The survey highlighted average shielding gas flow rates of 33 litres per minute (lpm) and pre-weld surge of 42 lpm. However, various welding trials calculated the recommended shielding gas flow rate for the production operation at MDF Engineering at just 18 lpm.

The solution

Convinced by the on-site demonstration, MDF Engineering signed up to Air Products’ Gastrak® service.

A key part of the service involves installing Gastrak® Economiser units on each of the factory shielding gas outlet points. The Gastrak® Economiser ensures that the optimum flow rate is constantly achieved and eliminates the pre-weld surge. In total, Air Products installed 67 units to reduce gas wastage, improve weld quality and lower the customer’s environmental footprint. Key to success was a combination of the right expertise and equipment, combined with long-term sustainability. This could only be achieved by consistent and open dialogue between the manufacturer and gas supplier.

Results

Air Products conducted an in-depth analysis. This revealed that in the 12-month period following the implementation of Air Products’ unique Gastrak® service, MDF Engineering reduced its usage of both Liquid Argon and Carbon Dioxide by a staggering 40% (data obtained based on comparable production output rates).

Not only did gas usage reduce, but Air Products was also able to support MDF Engineering in lowering the number of bulk tanker deliveries, thereby, supporting a reduced carbon footprint.

Kevin Sherry - Principal Application Specialist EWT/IWT, Air Products UKI

Moving toward sustainable production is often a complex process but it is at the heart of Air Products’ approach. Our focus is on immersing ourselves in a business, creatively applying the optimal gas or technology solution, and supporting customers in solving their toughest challenges. This leads to higher productivity, better quality products, reduced energy use, and lower emissions.

By working together to conserve resources and reduce environmental footprints through cost-effective improvements, we unlocked greater efficiency and productivity within MDF’s manufacturing operations, and ensured a higher quality, headache-free process for those involved in welding.

Gerard Cassidy - Purchasing Manager MDF Engineering

Air Products is a very reputable company to deal with and we have seen a significant decrease in welding gas usage after the installation of the Gastrak® units.


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