Development of Feedback Device for Manual Welders
Award last edited on: 6/3/2008

Sponsored Program
Awarding Agency
DOD : Navy
Total Award Amount
Award Phase
Solicitation Topic Code
Principal Investigator
Troy Paskell

Company Information

Accudata Inc

5750 Marathon Drive
Jackson, MI 49201
   (517) 784-8222
Location: Single
Congr. District: 07
County: Jackson

Phase I

Contract Number: N00014-00-M-0082
Start Date: 5/10/2000    Completed: 10/31/2000
Phase I year
Phase I Amount
Manual, human welding is still a vital operation for shipbuilding and other large structure manufacturing. Surprisingly, the advancement of manual welding equipment has been virtually ignored. Today's experienced welders are only slightly more productive than they were 30 years ago. To compound this problem, the U.S. labor pool of welders is shrinking and less skilled welders are being utilized at an ever-increasing rate.It has become critical for shipbuilding operations, to develop technologies that will increase the productivity and cost-effectiveness of manual welding. The objective of this proposal is to prove the feasibility, to the point of demonstration, that a "Portable, Semi-Automatic Arc Welding Monitoring and Feedback Device" can be developed that will meet these goals. This device will significantly reduce manual welding costs by increasing its speed and accuracy, and reducing the amount of rework required. Additionally, a real-time feedback feature will provide extra sensing capabilities, allowing less skilled, lower paid welders to produce quality welds. This device will also reduce welder training time, and will generate electronic audit trails for process time and parameters. By providing real-time process feedback, the human welder instantly knows if the weld being performed is accurate and within the established quality guidelines. This instantaneous process knowledge allows the welder to take corrective action before a bad weld is produced. This capability has many benefits that all lead to production efficiencies, cost reductions and increased quality.Productivity Increases are gained since the welder is going to be more accurate, and will spend less time reworking previously welded parts. Due to the high degree of rework currently being performed in U.S. shipyards, the production efficiencies created by this device, will also shorten the overall production time of ship construction. This device will also allow welders to work more effectively in situations where the weld is not easily accessible, or possibly even hidden, or when the weld is in a hazardous location.Cost Reductions are gained in several ways. Since the proposed device will greatly reduce reworking, the additional costs of welding consumables as well as labor costs will also be reduced. This device will make a good welder better and a poor welder good by adding sensing capabilities, so another cost reduction comes via the shipbuilder's ability to rely on less experienced and thus, lower paid, welders to get the same job done. Another cost reduction is due to the shorter training time required to make new welders productive. The instantaneous feedback allows welding students to learn at a rapid pace.Quality Increases are also gained in several ways. The real-time information being fed back to the welder gives them an ability to take corrective action as they weld. The skill set of less experienced welders will be enhanced to make them better welders. This feature alone will dramatically improve a welder's quality, but the proposed device also generates an electronic audit trail that records various key parameters of every weld produced. Bad weld passes can no longer be hidden by one good cover pass, and repeating problems will easily be identified. This audit trail will also show the welding duration for any given welder, allowing inefficiencies to be identified and corrected.Interactive technology that can enhance manual welding practices by providing additional sensing and feedback processing is long overdue and has applications in many industries, including shipbuilding, pressure vessel manufacturing, and construction. The goal of this project is to create an indispensable, low-cost device that all welders desire to use. This device would be manufactured on a large scale and sold through welding distributors.

Phase II

Contract Number: N00014-01-C-0172
Start Date: 4/1/2001    Completed: 9/30/2002
Phase II year
Phase II Amount
The feasibility of developing a system to provide feedback to manual welders was demonstrated in Phase 1 of the Office of Naval Research STTR Project titled "Development of a Monitoring and Feedback Device to Improve Human Welding Productivity" (Contract No. N00014-00-M-0082). The system referred to as the "Manual ArcScan" measures welding parameters and provides real-time feedback to the welder regarding the acceptability of the parameters within pre-defined limits. The welder then uses the feedback to adjust the welding process. The "Manual ArcScan" can be used for both training welders and production applications. In Phase 2, a version of the Manual ArcScan that focuses on training will be developed and evaluated in shipyard and commercial training schools. DataWare is a Joint-Venture formed by AccuData, Inc. and WeldWare, Inc. AccuData and WeldWare have previously teamed to develop a monitoring system for robotic/mechanized welding applications, which is currently being marketed by AccuData. Other Phase 2 team members are Halter Marine, Newport News Shipbuilding, Bath Iron Works and Hobart Institute of Welding Technology. The objectives of this project are: (1) to develop and refine a real-time feedback system for training manual welding and (2) to evaluate the performance of the system in a shipyard.

Welding, Training, Feedback, Monitor