3 Situations where a Power Cross Slide can Enhance a Welding Manipulator

January 3, 2017

Welding Automation Systems

A Column & Boom Weld Manipulator has more options and configurations than any other Standard Product that IRCO offers. Because of this we often have questions regarding the different add-ons and configurations that are available.

Recently we had a client ask us why we were recommending Power Cross Slides for their application. The IRCO team thought it might be helpful to describe some common scenarios where someone may want to consider (or absolutely must use) Power Cross Slides when configuring their mechanized welding system.

What are Welding Slides?

Slides (or Cross Slides) are located at the end of mechanized welding systems and connect the weld torch to the equipment. Slides allow the operator and/or automated system to make fine adjustments to the torch. A single axis Slide will provide either horizontal or vertical adjustment. A dual axes Cross Slide will have both horizontal + vertical adjustment. IRCO Slides are available with: manual/powered motion, varying stroke lengths, and different weight capacities.

Single Axis Welding Slide-IRCO Automation

Single Axis – Manual Slide

Dual Axes Welding Manual Cross Slide-IRCO Automation

Dual Axes – Manual Cross Slide


Manual Slides vs. Power Slides

A Manual Slide will have a handwheel which the operator rotates to make fine adjustments to the position of the torch. A Power Slide is controlled electronically using a pendant, HMI and/or control stick. This remote control allows the operator to maneuver the torch head from a safe and ergonomic position, away from the welding area.

Manual welding cross slide-IRCO Automation

Manual Cross Slide

Power Welding Cross Slide-IRCO Automation

Power Cross Slide


When you should consider a Power Cross Slide

Old Weld Manipulator - with man on the boom arm

In the past, large vessel fabricators were forced to position their operator on the boom arm of the welding manipulator.


1 – Welding Large Vessels/Pipe

A Manual Cross Slide requires someone to reach out over the workpiece and turn the handwheel(s) while welding. For smaller diameter pipe this may not be an issue; but for large diameter pipe or tank fabrication it can be difficult, unsafe or even impossible to reach (or view) the weld head at the end of the mechanized arm.

2 – Using a Camera System

Camera viewing systems allow the operator to view the weld from a safe, un-elevated, and ergonomic position. With a manual Slide, the operator will be forced to leave the monitor and reach out over the workpiece to make adjustments to the torch head. With an IRCO integrated Power Slide and Camera Viewing system the operator can make adjustments to the torch by using the controls located beside the remotely positioned monitor.
Power Cross Slide with vision system and Laser Diode - Operator Control Steps

To improve operator ease of use, IRCO will often integrate a laser diode (Image: 1) and program a virtual cross hair on the camera monitor (Image: 2). When the torch is positioned correctly, the virtual cross-hair will align with the laser diode “Spot”. Any deviation of the Spot to the cross-hair will indicate that the torch needs to be adjusted. The operator will then use the Joystick (Image: 3) to move the Power Cross Slides (Image: 4) and realign the laser Spot with the cross-hair on the monitor.


3 – Using Seam Tracking

Mechanized welding systems with Automated Seam Tracking must include some sort of powered Cross Slide or other fine adjustment component. These features are integrated by IRCO and allow the seam tracking (e.g. tactile, vision, laser, etc.) to make the necessary adjustments and/or oscillations to the torch head position.

Note: You may not require a powered Cross Slide when using a robotic welding system, as most robotic arms are able to perform the fine adjustment and oscillations themselves.

Column & Boom Weld Manipulator Welding Tank with Seam Tracking and Camera System

Upgrading Your Current Mechanized Welding System

Whether your throughput, safety and/or operator ease of use could be enhanced with a Power Cross Slide will depend on the application and production process. If you are considering upgrading your current mechanized welding system and/or are looking at purchasing a new system, please contact an IRCO Service Representative so we can better assess your needs and lay out your options.