Why Bladerunner Boats gave up on welding fumes...
Bladerunner Boats Ltd, Auckland - case study
'If you can make the environment better for the welder, a) they’re happier, and b) it’s easier, and there’s also the occupational health concept as well, which is a big thing these days.'
We talk to Greg Shine from Bladerunner Boats
about why he's bought the TECMEN TM820 Auto-Darkening Helmet with FreFlow Respirators
for his workshop.
Tell us a bit about Bladerunner Boats...
I'm Greg from Bladerunner Boats, we design and build aluminium power boats, and other style boats. We’ve been doing these Bladerunner catamaran boats for about 30 years, and we’ve been welding them for 30 years as well.
There are aluminium powered catamarans. They are high performance foil supported aluminium catamarans. Unlike a mono-hull boat which has a bottom, chime, and a side skin, which forms x 2 = 6 surfaces, these [catamarans] have 18 surfaces just to go from side to side. So there’s a lot more welding in them, and there’s a lot more work in them.
Typically on a 9 metre boat, like the one behind me here, there’d be about 3 kilometres of welding
, which is a lot. So if you’re welding all the time, doing all that welding, you need some ventilation and protection while you’re doing it really. We do what we can with fans and ventilation, but there’s nothing like having cool, clean air right where you’re breathing
. It makes it a lot better.
Why did you decide to try the TECMEN TM820 + FreFlow Respirator?
Towards the end of Summer, we had a very long hot Summer this year, and the boys were welding inside the boat and it [the heat] just got pretty unbearable having to do all the welding inside the boat.
About 15 years ago we had had ventilated helmets and they were good for serious long run welding, so I talked to Clayton, from Euromarc and we got a couple of them, and it just transformed how the welding was being done from the point of view of comfort
. Because on a hot day when you’ve got your welding helmet, overalls, gloves and everything on, you can’t get rid of the heat when you’re welding. With the fan blowing cool air over your face you can keep cool, so it’s really made it quite different. Like being in an air-conditioned office rather than in a factory that’s at 35 degrees.
What do you like about the TM820 + Respirator?
The boys say the vision’s good in the helmet, they like the fact the battery lasts all day when they’re using it.
There are literally metres of welding in a boat, and you might be doing welding for days or weeks at a time, just welding up a hull, and if you can make the environment better for the welder: a) they’re happier; and b) it’s easier, and there’s also the occupational health concept as well, which is a big thing these days.
I’ve been a welder for 30+ years and I know what it’s like to weld in confined spaces...it’s not nice. That’s why we got the original air fed helmet - to be able to weld inside the hull of a boat or inside a tank, or when you’re doing a lot of welding, because there are quite a considerable amount of fumes coming off a weld when you’re welding. So it’s nice to have clean air. It’s a health thing. I’ve been welding half my life – I gave up smoking many years ago, so I might as well give up breathing welding fumes as well!
Why do you prefer a powered respirator?
If you put a filtered mask on, it’s very hot on your face and you can’t just breath, you build up heat very quickly like that when welding. You start perspiring, especially on a hot day. So the main thing is New Zealand over Summer, especially in Auckland, it’s 25+ degrees during the day, and the temperature in the factory can get over 30 quite comfortably. This is much nicer because you’ve got cool, clean air running over your face. You don’t get so exhausted when you’re welding.
Do you find the welding work is better with the new helmets?
I guess if you’re comfortable, you’re more relaxed, and the essence of welding is being relaxed. You’ve got to just continue doing the welding in a relaxed and ongoing manner the same way all the time. If you’re frustrated, you’re under pressure, you’re feeling hot, you’re really over temperature. It’s not a nice feeling, and from experience, you want to get out of there, you want to get it over with, so you won’t be relaxed. So that makes a difference too. So the welding is very likely going to be better.
When you’re cool, and you’ve got good vision, and you’re breathing comfortably. When you’re welding the trick is to get yourself in a comfortable position, which in a boat it’s difficult to do, but the main thing is to be comfortable while you’re welding, because there’s a lot of it to do, and some of the guys might spend 6 or 8 hours just on a welding machine all day, and the next day, and the next day, and the next day. So it’s a big thing.