Amid the increasing lack of welders and inclining prices, the Canadian NWP invested in automized production technology to streamline and secure its future production capacity.
With the PEMA Robotic Nozzle Welding station and smart automation technologies, the company has improved its production consistency, and quality and gained significant savings in production time.
Surrounded by the flourishing fields of Central Alberta, a large production site welcomes its visitors. The facility, called Innisfail Manufacturing, belongs to a prestigious Canadian oil & gas equipment manufacturer NWP Industries LP.
The company, a part of Terravest Industries (TVK.TO), operates in the oil and gas, renewables, mining, and agriculture sectors. The main products are pressure vessels and turn key energy processing equipment. As a major pressure vessel manufacturer, four to six pressure vessels go through the production pipeline weekly. The yearly volume reaches as high as 250 pieces.
“The total amount of pressure vessels is significant, but at the same we are constantly challenged by the common phenomena; to find skilled workers for the factory. Thus, researching alternative manufacturing options, instead of manual welding, has become crucial,” describes Jason Greene, President of the Energy Processing Equipment Division, Terravest Industries.
At the core of PEMA Nozzle Welding Station is Pemamek’s in-house designed PEMA WeldControl 300 SCAN developed specifically for changing groove geometries.
From the manufacturing point of view, the structure of a pressure vessel with nozzles is complicated. The process includes several detailed steps from machining to cutting and surfacing. In each step precision is vital. Typically, the most demanding phase is nozzle welding due to the varied groove geometries and very strict quality requirements.
“The pressure vessels we manufacture are with nozzles and piping, diameters being 24”, 36” and 48”. Before all nozzles were welded manually.” Steve Becker, Plant Manager at NWP continues, “Now with the new welding technology that incorporates scanning, adaptivity welding, and offline programming, we are capable to weld everything automatically.”
The production equipment delivered to NWP is the PEMA Robotic Nozzle Welding station. The solution includes integrated material handling, one welding robot gantry, and Lincoln Electric welding equipment. At the core of the smart robotic welding solution is Pemamek’s in-house designed PEMA WeldControl 300 SCAN developed specifically for changing groove geometries.
“The key factors are the advanced technological features: scanning and adaptivity. With this robotic solution, we have gained great results in nozzle welding. While welding quality, consistency, and welding speed have improved, the repair rate of welds has reduced,” tells Becker.
In high-quality welding automation deliveries, turn-key services are fundamental to ensure a fast transition phase for the customer and an efficient start of production. The delivery to NWP includes a preventive maintenance agreement, spare parts package, production start-up support, and welding process support. Technical support services are provided by Pemamek’s local partner in Canada, All Fabrication Machinery. The company’s president, Giles Young, has been an important facilitator throughout the project and will assist future projects in the area as well.
The robotic welding station for nozzle welding was delivered during the summer of 2022 and has been now a part of NWP’s daily operation routines for a couple of months. According to Greene, the implementation and start of production have gone smoothly, and gives a special endorsement to Pemamek for the prompt communication throughout the collaboration.
“Our team has adopted well the equipment and production method. This is mainly due to the advanced pre-planning and operations before the delivery. Additionally, the communication with Pemamek has been very responsive and fast. Throughout the discussions, the team from Pemamek was eager to do the research and use their expertise to find a solution that is the right one for us. The visit to Finland to Pemamek’s factory was important and convincing.”
The robotic welding station for nozzle welding was delivered during the summer of 2022 and has been now a part of NWP’s daily operation routines for a couple of months.
"The people on the shopfloor should be integrated into the process and familiarized with the new solution early enough", says Jason Greene, President of the Energy Processing Equipment Division, Terravest Industries.
Clear results from the investment are already visible. As the company’s order book is strong, NWP is eager to reap further benefits from its fresh investment in modern robotic welding equipment.
“The real savings come from nozzle welding. Our initial objective was to complete the work equaling to the job of 5-6 welders on the station. Once the station has reached its full capacity, we look to gain 60-70% savings on time,” Becker tells.
Finally, when asked about the possible tips for companies considering investing in automated welding solutions in the future, there’s a clear answer.
“The people on the shopfloor should be integrated into the process and familiarized with the new solution early enough. When it comes to the factory, it is important to consider the new layout well before the delivery,” summarizes Greene.