IT WAS BY kind invitation of Richard Denholm, Sales Director at Morris Site Machinery, that ToolBusiness + Hire came to Four Ashes near Wolverhampton to find out a lot more about the market, machines and expertise that are required in the world of welding –particularly hire welding.
Richard is what is called an ‘acknowledged expert’ in welding, having many years’ experience in the art - as well as working in executive positions in the industry, WRITES PETER BRETT.
It All Started Many Years Ago…
The art of fusing or welding metals was first known about in the Bronze Age as far as we can tell, and even today modern blacksmiths use a very high temperature to hammer fuse steel.
The makers of Samurai swords and damascus steel used the skill of fusing metals to make high quality blades. But it was only in the 1890s that thermite welding became common.
The oxy-acetylene process was discovered by Edmund Davey in 1836, but only became a viable welding method with the invention of a suitable torch in 1900.
Since then several further methods of welding, including electric arc welding, have been developed. During World War II, for example, it was a quick and effective way of fabricating steel products without having to rivet steel plates together, as in the old days of shipbuilding.
And it was a skill women seemed to be particularly good at, which helped save our bacon during those stressful times.
Further developments in electric arc welding took us into the realms of gas shielded welding and ultimately to the stick, MIG and TIG welders we most often use these days.
As usual, it took some years before Health and Safety caught up with welding practices on the ground. Apparently, it was not uncommon for welders to be electrocuted by badly insulated welding machines.
It was also not uncommon for welders to drink a pint of milk a day, in the belief that it would neutralise the toxins they were ingesting while welding. A faint hope, I think.
Today, simple welding is accomplished using stick welding or MMA (Manual Metal Arc) welding. This is safe and simple welding within the skill level of DIYers, and is now increasingly catered for by machines costing as little as £100.
More advanced skills are needed for both MIG and TIG welding – both of these use a gas shielding of the welding arc, to create the strong and sealed welds needed for anything from food containers to battleships and submarines.
Modern welding machines have been made smaller and lighter due to the invention of inverter technology.
Instead of using very heavy transformers to convert to the high currents needed to melt metals, inverters can be lighter and use advanced electronics to help manage welds by monitoring the electrical input and skills of the welder – thus making better welders and welds.
Modern welders are also blessed with a wide and effective range of safety gear including smart helmets, gauntlets and breathing masks needed for some processes.
MSM has linked with Jefferson to market its range of tools and safety gear for welding. Keenly priced, it is of serviceable quality, and appeals to casual hiring welders as well as professionals.
The Morris Site Machinery View
With all of the above knowledge and experience, Richard told me that MSM has had a 35-year long connection with ArcGen welders.
These are made in Japan and although they are not the cheapest, many are still being used regularly after twenty years. Indeed, we saw some of these machines in the workshop being refurbished into ‘as new’ condition.
The ArcGen machines have proved to be tough enough to withstand the rigours of the hire market where they are not only exposed to the British climate, but also the tender ministrations of their hirers.
They are combined with the compatible power units that are used on site, shipbuilding and petro-chemical industries.
The ArcGen Cobra 5000i Multi Process Inverter, which was recently included in MSM’s range of welders, is a multi-process inverter that will tackle TIG and MIG welding.
As well as being available in multiples, the welder is suitable for heavy construction as well as hire. And when you have a Cobra, you also need the Adder – a portable wire feeder unit built into a strong plastic case designed to withstand damp conditions.
To partner the ArcGen welders are the ArcGen Weldmaker Generators. Mounted on trailers and fully featured including auto engine shutdown and quiet operation, they are perfectly matched to ArcGen welders for peak efficiency.
Service, Hire and Sales in a comprehensive package
While at Four Ashes, Richard took us on a lightning tour of the premises, so we could get more of a flavour of the services and equipment that enable MSM to provide a comprehensive service to its hirers and equipment purchasers.
There are sections devoted to repairs and servicing of everything from welders to pumps, and generators and pressure washers. Since much of the hire market is seasonally driven, there are peaks and troughs of machines and equipment that are in high or low demand.
There are also production lines making up machines to meet orders placed. A small caravan of trailer generators was being assembled in one of the workshop areas, and would be ready for shipping in only a few days.
Outside in the yard were hundreds of lighting towers – now not much in demand for hire in the lighter and longer days of spring and summer. But come October and the clocks going back, most will be hired out, lighting worksites again.
Morris Site Machinery prides itself on listening to customers and being relentlessly customer focused.
I think it is very interesting that the company has not chosen the ‘cheap and cheerful’ solution to hiring and selling machines of all kinds, but instead have chosen to focus on quality, value and efficiency rather than on ‘bottom line’ pricing.
In the longer run MSM believes that this formula is more sustainable, and better value for money because higher quality machines perform better, last longer and are therefore ‘greener’ than so called cheaper solutions.
The old adage that you get what you pay for, clearly applies here too.