Lincoln Electric Welding Technology Takes Center Stage at Siemens Mobility Division

Energy efficient Flextec™ 450 welder’s proven energy savings makes impact
When Siemens Mobility Division designed solar energy into its new U.S. headquarters and railway manufacturing facility in Sacramento, Calif., the leading provider of transportation and logistics solutions demanded that sustainability be built into all areas of the plant.

This includes welding, a major component of the assembly line for the facility’s light rail production operations. So major, in fact, that 140 of the headquarters’ 700 workers are on the welding team for the plant’s car shell and bogie operations. To cement its commitment to sustainability and environmentally friendly products, the company recently purchased energy efficient Flextec™ inverter welders from Lincoln Electric for use with its solar-powered welding operations.

  Siemens Mobility Division 

Siemens Mobility Division Aerial View


Transportation Leader
Spanning 54 acres, the headquarters’ collective 385,000 square feet of facilities includes warehouse, subassembly, carshell welding, car body painting, cladding, final assembly, bogie assembly and testing areas. Siemens’ Sacramento facility can do it all from start to finish: light rail vehicles, street cars, diesel multiple units and high-speed rail and electric locomotives.

Products manufactured at the site include traction electrification, propulsion systems, rail automation, rolling stock and integrated services for light rail, heavy rail, commuter rail and locomotives. Siemens supplies one out of every three light rail vehicles in North America and is the market leader.

To date, the division has built more than 1,000 light rail vehicles for 17 cities across the United States and Canada. At the time of writing, the company was building cars for both Edmonton and Calgary in Alberta, Canada. In the United States, recent projects included cars for Portland, Oregon; Hampton Roads, Virginia; Salt Lake City, Utah; Charlotte, North Carolina and San Diego, California. The Division also recently added an order for electric locomotives for Amtrak.

  Siemens Final Assembly 
 Siemens Parking Panels  

Power Production
Since 2008, Siemens Mobility has completed two construction phases for a solar energy system that generates clean, green and renewable electrical power for delivery directly to the manufacturing facility. The installed system generates more than two megawatts of power from the sun, which amounts to about 80 percent of the aggregate power demand for the entire facility.

Project Manager Doug Moyles says the reason the system produces 80 percent of the power used by the facility rather than 100 percent comes down to efficiency and economics.

“Because the plant doesn’t use as much energy in off hours, such as weekends and holidays, constantly supplying more power would not be economically feasible,” he says. “So, by aggregating the power at 80 percent of the annual demand, the majority of the plant’s needs are being met. It’s like filling up a car’s gas tank by 50 percent every day during the work week – when you might be driving the most – and again on the weekend. You’re accruing fuel for your needs during the weekend that can be put to use during the week.”

The system is designed so that it produces more electrical energy than the facility requires, especially on weekends and holidays. Then, it automatically sends the excess electricity back to the Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s (SMUD) grid system. This power then is used to power area homes and businesses. The excess electricity is “net metered,” and Siemens accrues credits for what the solar system exports to the grid.

“We’re not only generating clean electricity for use at our plant; we’re also helping to the power the community with green energy,” Moyles says.


Welding Efficiency
It makes sense for a facility focused on energy savings to equip its manufacturing areas with products designed around energy efficiency. Welding operations, which include MIG, TIG and stick welding on the carshells and bogies (trucks) for light rail vehicles, is one of the most heavily performed tasks within the plant and a major source of the plant’s energy consumption. In fact, each car shell starts with 3,000 pieces of steel per vehicle, primarily assembled through welding operations.

With this in mind, the Siemens welding team turned to Lincoln Electric after the completion of the second phase of solar system construction, seeking assistance to boost the energy efficiency of its 40-booth welding area. The company wanted to find a welding power source that could withstand the rigors of high-volume steel welding, yet significantly reduce energy consumption with a substantial return on investment.


  Siemens Car Shell Weld 
 Siemens Shop Floor   “We used an energy calculator tied in with the local utility provider here to determine the energy and cost savings if they went with Flextec™ units,” says David Kilburn, technical sales representative at Lincoln Electric, who notes that the facility already used a high percentage of Lincoln Electric products, including the traditional transformer/rectifier technology CV-305 and earlier inverter-based Invertec® V-350 PRO and Power Wave® 455 welding power sources. “They have appreciated the heavy-duty, reliable construction and ease of use of these other units and wanted something with the same quality combined with even lower energy consumption.”


Ultimately, Siemens purchased three new energy-efficient Flextec™ 450 multi-process welding power sources. The new Flextec™ machines deliver up to 500 amps of welding power using the latest inverter and transformer technology for faster arc response and considerable energy savings thanks to lower power consumption. The multi-process arc welding capability includes stick, Touch Start TIG® (DC) (GTAW), MIG (GMAW)  and flux-cored welding (FCAW-GS, FCAW-SS), as well as arc gouging with up to a 3/8-inch (9.5 mm) carbon.
   David Kilburn - Siemens


 Siemens Welders   The energy efficiency and welding process versatility of the Flextec™ power source was a perfect fit for Siemens welding operators, who handle carbon steel, low-alloy steel, high-tensile steel and stainless steel on a daily basis.

“Energy efficiency was the driving factor for the purchase of this machine. We wanted the latest inverter technology that offers energy savings and lower power consumption,” notes Mayk Lehmann, Director, Bogie Manufacturing. “The Flextec™ is a real energy saver. And, an investment return calculation revealed that the payback time for us is only six months.”

David Kilburn - Siemens