At A Glance
Location Headquaters
Crowley, Texas
Customer Since
Welding Process Technology

MTI was easy to work with, made delivery deadlines, was open to on-site training in South Bend and provided adequate programming development. We were very happy with the machine delivered.”

Ian RodgerProduction Manager at Harbison-Fischer

In the end, Harbison-Fischer’s results were beneficial to the bottom line. MTI was able to cut the client’s Monel® consumption in half for this product process. In addition, Harbison-Fischer had lower expenses and faster output because they were able to eliminate processes. MTI proved that the company was able to meet a challenge in unchartered territory. The learning experiences throughout the process were crucial in delivering a first-rate friction welding machine. MTI also created two new innovative tactics (quick change tooling and the shear die design on the machine) that may be used for other applications in different industries. “We do more innovation than we give ourselves credit for,” Neuerburg said. “We constantly come up with solutions in every field we work in.”

Solutions in Uncharted Territory
Manufacturing Technology, Inc. (MTI) specializes in transformational, custom-engineered joining solutions for manufacturing processes. A fourth generation company founded in 1926, MTI develops cost-efficient welding solutions in various industries ranging from aerospace to oil & gas. Dedicated to adapting to new technologies and ideas, MTI has established itself as a leader in friction welding, including rotary friction, linear friction, and friction stir welding technologies.

Around 800 MTI welding machines are in operation today, each with its own backstory of expectations, achievements, and obstacles. As MTI has discovered over the years, different problems are solved in different ways, and one solution can be applied to many different scenarios and applications. However, what happens when a client approaches MTI with a new issue and there’s no prior applicable experience? How does the company round up the necessary assets to meet the pressing dilemma and find a workable solution?

Parameters of a Challenge
In 2012, Harbison-Fischer, a Division of Dover Artificial Lift, a Dover Company, was facing a serious production challenge. Harbison-Fischer, which specializes in sub-surface oil field rod pumping processes, had an issue with an integral pump part that was taking too long to create and costing too much to produce. Harbison-Fischer, based out of Crowley, Texas, was introduced to the idea of friction welding and MTI when it attended the 2012 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago.

MTI had years of experience with drill pipe applications in this industry, yet had not had the opportunity to place an application in the oil pumping market. Complicating matters, Harbison-Fischer had very little knowledge on friction welding or the extent to which the application could be engaged. Both companies were interested in solving this challenge.

“MTI can find around a half dozen applications in oil and gas,” said Business Development Manager Duane Neuerburg. “Primarily, we have worked on the drill pipe. In this opportunity, when we looked at Harbison-Fischer, it was something unfamiliar to us and a brand new application.”

Despite having no prior working experience on oil pumping applications, MTI demonstrated that it could deliver a cost-cutting, time-reducing friction welding machine that met the client’s expectations.

Beginning Steps
The first step in addressing a previously unknown application is to dig deep and gather all the information. In Harbison-Fischer’s case, the part in question was a component of the oil pump that used two dissimilar metals. The process to join these two metals was creating cost overruns and inefficient production schedules.

Harbison-Fischer had been mechanically joining the assembly by threading and soldering a solid Monel rod on the end of mild steel tubes. Both parts required an independent threading operation (one male external on the Monel and one female internal on the steel tube). After cutting the threads on each of the two separate parts they were then threaded together and brazed to further lock the pieces in place and seal the joint.

The proposed friction welding process would require only a “saw cut” end on each of the two pieces prior to joining and could provide a stronger, leak resistant joint. Machining the joined ends would not be necessary. Friction welding could eliminate the process and associated costs of the threading and soldering operations with a huge bonus saving in material costs if the internal length of material used on the Monel male threaded section (threaded inside the female section) was no longer required.

Also key in the process, MTI was able to bring Harbison-Fischer up-to-speed on friction welding. The client had almost no background information on this process. Harbison-Fischer was eager to be involved in each step of the process. In a previous experience with a different company, Harbison-Fischer had invested in a machine tool, but was uninvolved in the process, and the preparation level was not up to par. This time the company wanted to be involved. MTI welcomed this hands-on approach and embraced Harbison-Fischer’s passion for training from day one.

“Different customers have different tolerance levels for knowledge,” Neuerburg said. “That will vary. In Harbison-Fischer’s case they were involved from the start. We are flexible to our customers’ needs and will give them as little or as much as they want in terms of training.”

Persevering Through Field Testing
As the process was underway, MTI created parts for Harbison-Fischer to conduct field tests – a critical step. However, in the first batch to be tested there was a small issue with one of the parts, and it did not perform up to standards.

MTI immediately went to work to identify the problem and sent new parts to Harbison-Fischer for field testing. It was quickly discovered there was an anomaly in the weld process due to a stop setting on the machine’s overtravel protection setting. Consequently forge pressure was lost in the middle of the process and the bond was not completed.

The fix was instituted and another round of welding was conducted. The end result – field tests with zero failures and no errors occurring on the parts. Due to MTI’s excellent response rate and never-ending communication between the two companies, Harbison-Fischer committed to new equipment before the trials were complete. Despite not having dealt in oil pumping processes, MTI worked through a learning curve to create a satisfied customer.

“I have to give the client credit here,” Neuerburg said. “They contacted us and told us what happened immediately. We did our due diligence, researched the possible issues, and promptly made the fix.”