Kapco Weld Team Pairs Innovation & Problem Solving to Address Weld Wire Challenges
Our team at Kapco Metal Stamping has a knack for seeing problems as an opportunity. Sometimes that’s an opportunity for process improvement, innovation, team building, or, in few cases, all those things combined.
That very situation stared Kapco’s weld department in the face recently, when a minor welding issue related to the snarling of weld wire – a consumable metallic filament used by welding robots – knocked robots offline for a small period. Each time the weld wire would snag, it took a technician 15-20 minutes to correct. That doesn’t seem like much in the short term, but in the long run, it was a problem that presented an opportunity.
Levi George, a senior welding engineer at Kapco, quickly realized the amount of time and materials that were lost each time the error happened. Levi is an expert problem-solver, so he set out to find a solution.
Having dabbled with a small 3D printer at home, George began working on possible solutions. He quickly realized that his efforts could be utilized as a learning opportunity for a new engineer.
Enter Tony Lewandowski. Although Lewandowski had only been at Kapco for short time, George knew the weld wire project could provide valuable experience for Lewandowski. While George had gotten the solution off the ground, he knew it was time to collaborate and let Lewandowski thrive.
George had created an initial design solution at home. But for this project to be successful, he saw a need for a larger 3D printer. He knew it would be an investment for the company, so he collaborated with his teammates to lay out the return-on-investment plan to rationalize the purchase. Kapco leadership sanctioned the team’s research and agreed to purchase the larger 3D printer, which has since been used throughout the organization in a variety of applications to solve minor technical issues.
George said this project was an ideal learning situation, as there was no specific deadline for a customer. Levi and Tony were able to spend time – more than a year – working to improve the design collaboratively.
Since then, they have eliminated the downtime associated with the weld wire snags – thus maximizing uptime across our fleet of robotic weld cells. Kapco’s willingness to invest in technology that can solve problems and improve existing best-in-class technology is one specific area that sets the company apart from other manufacturing organizations, Levi said.
“I’ve been given the opportunity to work with a lot of innovative technology at Kapco,” Tony said. “There’s a lot of variety in the weld shop and I’ve already gained more firsthand experience than I could have expected, thanks to the support of my colleagues.”
To learn more about our culture, mentorship-driven environment, and other career opportunities in manufacturing, click here.
And for more about our robust robotic and manual weld capabilities, visit our welding capabilities page.