Category: Manufacturing

Robots Aren’t Taking US Jobs

Elevating Manufacturing Begins with Efficiency

There’s a common misconception in the manufacturing industry that automation and robots are set to sweep in and take jobs from hard-working humans.
That simply isn’t the case. Robots aren’t here to take jobs from Americans. In fact, they are here to make companies more efficient, which keeps jobs here in America. They’re here to supplement human innovation and ingenuity.

Robots take on dull, dirty, and dangerous jobs, freeing up human labor to move upmarket and take on higher-level tasks humans excel at, such as programming.

The True Crisis in American Manufacturing

The truth is that American efficiency in manufacturing is lagging behind because of a natural inability to compete with countries with much lower labor costs.
It’s also due to a lack of available skilled labor, both in general and in manufacturing. In fact, according to a 2018 report from Deloitte, a skills gap between jobs opening from retirement and new jobs created naturally could result in 2.4 million unfilled positions by 2028.
The United States cannot compete on cheap labor, and trying to will only result in continued failure and regression. However, there is a way to successfully compete in the global manufacturing space.
In order to maintain the American standard of living and re-emerge as one of the world’s manufacturing powerhouses, the U.S. needs to engage in more widespread adoption of robots and automation.
To re-emerge as one of the world’s manufacturing powerhouses, the U.S. needs to increase the efficiency of our manufacturing.
If our workers are being paid 10 times more than workers overseas, that time needs to be that much more valuable in terms of output. We can do this via robots and automation.

How Automation Will Drive American Manufacturing Back to the Forefront

The bottom line is this – we compete in a global market. If a U.S. manufacturer cannot provide manufacturing value to match international competitors, buyers will go elsewhere.
The use of robots and automation help protect jobs in the U.S. by making manufacturers more competitive on this global scale.
Across virtually every industry, robots have driven collaboration, automation, and precision that leads to better end results.
Consider the task of arc welding. One study found that the cost to manually weld a small part is about 84 cents, but that the same part costs Chinese manufacturers around half that. Via an initial investment in automation, costs can be driven toward a more level playing field – while also freeing human labor up to tackle higher-purpose jobs.
Human labor can also leverage collaborative robots to work safely alongside these automation tools, preserving even more manufacturing jobs.
And, because efficiency rises as costs lower and workers are set up to elevate their careers and fill more skilled roles, companies are empowered to make up for that aforementioned skill gap and deliver greater customer satisfaction.

A Renaissance in American Manufacturing on the Horizon

Robots and automation are primed to help the U.S. compete at a higher level with countries that leverage cheaper labor to engineer efficiency, and that’s opening doors toward a manufacturing future that will see America begin to win again.
Robots aren’t taking American jobs. They’re creating and elevating them and, if leveraged properly, they will bring about a Renaissance in U.S. manufacturing.

Be Narrow Minded


I’m a long time advocate of narrow gap welding. The advantages are tremendous, but the challenges are too. A 5″ thick standard V Butt weld with a 75 degree included angle has five times the weld volume of a 1″ wide 5″ Square Butt. This means a narrow gap joint would have five times less weld wire, five times less arc time, much less distortion. And fewer defects because every inch of weld that you don’t make is an inch you don’t have to inspect and possibly repair.

Why isn’t narrow gap the standard technique for welding heavy sections? Because the technical challenges of welding vertical walls in confined spaces are huge. For good sidewall fusion, the arc must impinge on the walls. Otherwise, you risk lack of fusion defects at the bond line. Our new Narrow Gap Hot Wire Torch features a servo tungsten electrode oscillator to point directly at the sidewall. That is only half the battle. The wire must follow the tungsten. We did just that using a second independent servo this allows us full control of arc and the filler wire position. Finally, we use our HOT ONE AC constant voltage hotwire system to double the deposition rate, which cuts weld time in half.

To see a video including Xiris Automation Inc. arc monitoring click:

Robotics on Display at FABTECH 2016

The robotics team at ARC Specialties have designed, fabricated and programmed two separate robotic demonstration cells for Fabtech 2016 in Las Vegas. The RoboCell 1T will be located in the ARC Specialties booth, North Hall #5002, and the RoboCell 2P will be located in the KUKA Robotics booth, North Hall #5520.

The RoboCell 1T in the ARC Specialties booth will have a joystick that allows show attendees to try live Robotic TIG Welding on a business card holder to take home.

Robotic Hardbanding System

This Robotic Hardbanding System is an automatic welding machine that is used for applying tungsten carbide to tool joints and pipe. The project was completed in Summer 2016, and is available for purchase from ARC Specialties in Houston, Texas.


  • A dry run in the video demonstrates the torch movement during the weld program.
  • Included here is a 3-jaw-self-centering manual actuated chuck.
  • This Robotic Hardbanding System uses touch sense to calculate the diameter of the part.
  • The system then changes the speed of rotation of the part to match that diameter.
  • The laser in this system is used to show where the first bead will be welded on the part.
  • The torch cleaning station automatically cleans the nozzle, applies anti-spatter, and can be programmed to clean at any interval.
  • The carbide refill station includes semi-automatic feeder calibration and a water-cooled carbide nozzle integrated into the torch gas cup.

Robotic cells built by ARC Specialties may be customized with other robotic applications like TIG or MIG welding, plasma cutting, plasma transfer arc welding, and other manufacturing processes.



July 28th | Lunch and Learn | Featuring Talks and Demos on Hydrogen in Shielding Gas, High Deposition Welding, and Welding Contact Tip Life Extension

When: Thursday, July 28th at 11:30 am – 2:30 pmWhere: ARC Specialties, 1730 Stebbins Drive  |  Houston, Texas 77043Cost: FreeRSVP: The first 25 companies to RSVP to will receive a packet of the new long-life contact tips from ARC Specialties on the day of the event.

Optimizing Combustion: It is Possible to See Better Heat Rate and Lower NOx

Unknown to a lot of small to medium scale businesses, it is possible to boost efficiency and lower emission levels at the same time, by utilizing specific combustion optimization techniques. A brief look at how the processes work and how concerned businesses can use that to their commercial advantage should help in better clarifying the claim.

The Principle Idea: Flexibility in Boiler Operations

The core idea behind combustion optimization is centered around making boiler operations more flexible. This flexibility is brought on through informed optimization techniques that involve the use of closed-loop biases for dynamically changing the fuel and air settings.

As the process needs to be continuous and dynamic, the optimization must be in sync with the nature and volume of the specific load after each change. Due to the dynamic and continuous nature of this optimization, efficiency is inevitably improved and CO emissions are lowered down to optimal levels.

Successful Combustion Optimization Requires Professional Expertise

Irrespective of one’s experience with segments such as power plant management or mining, only optimization experts can bring about the necessary optimization. It is not possible to improve an industrial energy and combustion system’s performance to its maximum capacity without the expertise of professionals who have themselves designed or modified the necessary optimization hardware, software, and implementation procedures, over the course of many years.

Contact for help in optimizing the current equipment already in place. Businesses like this can also supply and install new, pre-optimized heating and combustion systems for maximum energy efficiency and boosted productivity, in addition to ensuring the least possible NOx emission.

Automation in Optimizing Combustion

It should be evident that continuous optimization is truly possible if the whole process is automated. How the optimization will be automated may differ in practice, as there are multiple methods. For example, a laser-powered tunable system could be used to monitor and then grid map the following, by placing the diode laser absorption spectroscopy machine near the furnace’s exit point.

  • Temperature levels
  • Oxygen and Carbon oxides
  • Moisture levels

Once the system is in place, the associated software handles everything else by dynamically tuning the air and fuel settings in accordance with the need of the moment. This reduces NOx emissions down to the lowest possible levels, cuts down on unnecessary energy consumption, and boosts the industrial combustion system’s overall performance.

Software Only Solutions

As an alternative, there are also purely software-based solutions that do not require any additional hardware like mentioned above. These automated solutions derive all their necessary optimization data from connected, cloud-based data banks for industrial heating and combustion systems. Private resources are usually better maintained than open sources, so heavy operations depend on the more accurate data from paid services.

Carbon emissions are a huge environmental threat, but they are often indicative of a poorly optimized heating and combustion system as well. Automated optimization solutions come with improvement possibilities for both aspects.

Welding Technician / Trainer Bonnie Harcrow-Hall Featured on Front Cover of Opportunity Houston Magazine

Bonnie Harcrow-Hall is Featured on Opportunity Houston Magazine Cover. The Greater Houston Partnership Focuses on Manufacturing in Houston for the Spring 2016 Edition of the Magazine.