With the many things to consider when choosing the right RF welder, safety is often overlooked when it should be at the top of the list. Safety is very important to JTE, which is why we created this guide that outlines which safety features you should consider when you are in the process of choosing an RF welder.
Are you trained on the machine?
In order to operate high powered machines such as RF welders safely, you must receive the appropriate level of training. This training should be conducted by someone who is experienced on the machine, or by representatives from the manufacturer. When looking around for a new welder, look for a company that provides in-depth training both on-site and after installation. All personnel who are going to operate the machine or be responsible for any maintenance should be familiar with the basics of RF welding, equipment features, fault diagnostics, lockout and safety procedures, troubleshooting options and preventive maintenance. Also, make sure the company offers follow up training sessions to ensure that your employees are knowledgeable throughout the life of owning the equipment which most often exceeds 10 years.
Are your employees following the maintenance procedures recommended by the manufacturer and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)?
The most important component of any maintenance program is a lockout/tag-out procedure that is approved by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and is documented. Ensuring this procedure is approved is especially crucial, because locking out and tagging out the power source means that no available voltage will be present on the line side of the welder’s main circuit breaker. During any maintenance, it only makes sense from a safety standpoint that the complete welding system is disconnected from the power source. In addition, RF machines are very sensitive to environmental moisture, dirt, and metal particles. Make sure the provider of your equipment gives you daily, weekly, and monthly Preventative Maintenance procedures to follow, in addition to offering an annual PM Service and Extended Warranty programs.
Is the equipment properly shielded?
When purchasing new RF machinery, doing a quick check in key areas to make sure all critical components of the equipment contain the industry’s most advanced shielding for the lowest RF emissions is essential. Here are the 5 items that are most important to look for when considering RF shielding:
- Is the generator housed within a separate thick wall box with proper insulators and capacitors to help direct the RF into the feed strip?
- Is there a ground foot or ground fingers to ensure a proper return of the RF circuit back to the generator?
- Is the tool holder shielded?
- Is there a PLC integrated within the control system of the machine? (Usually, this is an indication that there is adequate shielding so that the PLC can coexist with the RF while functioning).
- Is the maximum weld area output of the RF generator at least 6 sq. inches per kW? This type of output is not possible without a well-shielded RF machine.
Does the welder come with the built-in safety features?
Below are the safety features that all RF welders should have built in. If the machines that you are looking at do not come with these safety features, it should be a major red flag.
- All doors and panels should be interlocked. In the event they unexpectedly open up during operation, the welder will shut down automatically.
- Grounding devices should be installed on the oscillator and DC power supply. These will discharge any capacitors automatically to ground. (These are not needed for solid-state welders.)
- There should be externally mounted, hand-resettable emergency stop button(s) on the machine that are accessible at all times.
- The press should have a finger safety design that allows the press to move down under low pressure.
Working around and operating RF welders could be dangerous. One small mistake could have catastrophic results. Knowing this, JTE goes above and beyond when it comes to implementing safety measures on our machines. We have taken the time to add extra precautions on all of our machines, and to create a training program that is thorough.
Does the provider of your machine provide a 24/7 help support access for safety questions?
If you are experiencing major safety issues with your current machine, your welder may not be the right machine for the job. Our eBook 5 Signs That You May Be Using the Wrong Fabric Welder can help you figure out the answer to this question, and help you find the machine that fits your welding and safety needs.