Where Safety Meets Productivity

Prairie Machine proves how improved ergonomics transformed operations.

With quality welds at the heart of its machinery, Prairie Machine prioritizes support for the skilled workers in its welding and fabrication shops. Based in Saskatoon, Canada, Prairie Machine is a global leader in the manufacturing and supply of heavy-duty equipment for industrial and mining industries. The exceptional skill of the welding team is a source of pride at Prairie Machine, which clocked 75,000 weld hours last year alone.

“We have a robust apprenticeship program led by some very skilled journeyman,” said Paul Ferron, welding and fabrication supervisor at Prairie Machine. “We think of our welders as artists.”

But this kind of skilled work isn’t without risk, especially when manipulating components that range in weight from 36,000 to 54,000 pounds. Looking for ways to improve safety, Prairie Machine found ALM Positioners. Along with various safety benefits, adding four positioners to the floor has also improved ergonomics, productivity and the quality and aesthetics of every weld.

Improved ergonomics

ALM Positioners built its reputation on making production better, safer and faster using welding positioners that bring the weld to the worker. With the ability to raise, lower and spin heavy components, a positioner eliminates the need to bend and strain to reach weldments. For Prairie Machine, the team used to rely on cranes to do all the lifting and positioning of the component. Now the team needs to lift the component just once with a crane to get it into the positioner. From there, the positioner safely and effectively handles even the slightest adjustments.

“Our guys don’t have to strain their backs, bend over or crawl to make their weld. We’ve found that being more comfortable means they’re also more productive,” said Todd Malcolm, COO at Prairie Machine. “Our guys say they do not want to go back to the old way.”

Prairie Machine first invested in an ALM 15K Elevating Headstock and Mobile Tailstock positioner and has since continued to expand its positioner fleet with another 15K and two 55K positioners with adjustable tailstocks. After each delivery, the ALM service team is available to provide on-site installation and training. Prairie Machine says it takes less than a day to get the team trained and ready to operate.

Productivity gains

The productivity gains are also evident for the Prairie Machine team. Through the old system, a team could only be as productive as the crane each reposition required. With an ALM positioner in place, however, there’s no more waiting for a crane to be available, keeping each welding cell more active. Early estimates show productivity has improved by about 36 percent.

“Our world is about being more efficient, controlling our costs and quite simply, supplying better products,” said Malcolm. “ALM positioners are the tools that can help us get there.”

ALM values the working relationship with Prairie Machine that brings a new perspective to the ways positioners can help manufacturers deliver for their customers.

“This has been a strong working relationship from the beginning,” said Gary Pavlick, ALM regional manager. “The Prairie Machine team is detailed, they ask the right questions, and because of that, they’ve helped us learn more about our own products. We’re about bringing solutions to the table.”

Ready to see how your team’s welds can improve with a positioner? We’re ready to help. Give our team a call at (309) 787-6200 or fill out our form.

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