The energy industry is under an ongoing change. The already fragmented markets require reliable, safe, and affordable energy, whereas energy providers require high-quality technology, higher production capacity, and cost-efficiency.
In process pipe production, pipe components and special pipe fabrication are some of the most demanding phases in the entire pipe manufacturing process. When implemented manually, the entire process from handling to welding is time-consuming, inefficient, and there is never a full guarantee of labor safety. Additionally, it requires a significant amount of highly skilled manpower to weld demanding components, such as pipe elbows and valve frames promptly and with high-quality results.
One, if not the only, option to meet the modern challenges is production automation. When integrated into daily fabrication routines, automation brings immense and long-lasting advantages that are visible immediately. Automation is versatile, reliable in quality and performance, plus it reduces costs.
Welding of demanding components, such as pipe elbows and valve frames can be automatized with modern production technology.
Automated solutions for pipe shops
Pipelines require a huge amount of straight pipe sections provided by reliable pipe mills. Building different types of pipelines demand a large variety of sub-components that align with the same strict production requirements.
Today there is a great number of intelligent automation solutions for longitudinal welding of tubular pipes, pipe-to-pipe, elbow-to-pipe, and flange-to-pipe connections available in the markets. The wide selection of roller beds and positioners integrated into welding Column & Boom solutions and combined with special welding automates and sophisticated conveyor systems have been proved to bring significant improvements in pipe shop production capacity. Integrated solutions can be typically modulated from any welding and production automation providers’ standard product families.
Various welding processes, such as GMAW or GTAW for root pass welding and Multi-Arc SAW welding for filling up, are integrated into large diameter pipe fabrication equipment. To maximize the output without compromising any fabrication quality, automated tube end beveling machinery, hotwire GTAW for joining small diameter process tubes, but also joining the end connectors to pipe spool components must be integrated into the production lines. Additionally, modular welding torch sets with motorized slide modules are required to automate the welding of different size geometries and designs.
PEMA welding positioner guarantees an ideal welding position which results in better production efficiency without compromising ergonomics.
Elbow pipe welding with integrated special Column & Boom and welding positioner
One of the most common components used in process piping is elbow angle. This fitting provides the simplest way to alter the flow deviation in piping systems. Angle bending is typically 90° or 45° degrees. The bigger the pipe diameters and wall thicknesses are, the more challenging it will be to meet the operational demands. In the production of critical pipe components, there is absolutely no room to compromise in quality.
Despite the challenging shape and angle degree, thanks to modern and innovative production technology, also elbow component welding can be automated. This requires faultless integration and machine communication between handling, welding, and control systems.
Typically, the fabrication of the elbow component process is separated into two different phases: internal and external seam welding. Due to the wall thicknesses and handling requirements, both phases have their specific stations and processes.
Integrated PEMA handling positioner and X-type-roller beds form an optimal solution for elbow manufacturing.
Welding solutions and heads for elbow welding:
– Internal welding head: C&B with elbow welding head and material handling
– External welding head: special station with C&B + material handling
– Single and Tandem SAW process
– Special positioners with interpolating movements and integration to welding
Control system integration
Most of the modern production control systems include all the functions that effective components and special pipe production require. When quality is one of the most important criteria, a well-rounded production control system with a modern easy-to-use interface becomes a necessity.
Automation solutions utilizing welding and production control systems with adaptive multi-pass SAW functionality for thick materials have a wide range of tools to control process parameters. A verified welding parameter library, WPS, ensures a reliable welding process without the possibility of human errors during the welding process. The actual weld data can be monitored and stored with ID-information for QC and tracking purposes.
Integration of control systems, including the welding process itself, and controlling welding movements by linear or rotating systems make an effective management tool for operators to monitor the process, collect data, control process parameters, and enable full management of the production equipment, such as Column & Boom, material handling, and welding power sources.
PEMA WeldControl 100 is based on a modern technology that facilitates managing e.g. welding process, workpiece handling, and seam tracking.
Automating welding process in valve manufacturing
A modular product library can also be utilized to create efficient welding solutions for valve fabrication. Whether the needs in valve fabrication are concerning the welding of circumferential welds in valve frames or the end connections in the valve, welding automation can handle the job.
Heavy-duty welding that valve manufacturing requires can be efficiently made with PEMA solutions. Internal and external welding of circumferential joints can be done automatically so that repeatable high-quality is guaranteed in the valve frames. This can be done by combining positioners, roller beds, and welding Columns & Booms for the job. Even dedicated stations for valve frame welding can be supplied if the process needs to be optimized at its best.
For the higher level of automation, robots can be used for welding. With heavy-duty adaptive welding, it is possible to compensate for the variations in the welding groove. Weld pass sequence is always executed according to actual real-life welding groove as the groove is laser scanned before welding. Robotized solutions can also be used for welding the valve frame, but the robot excels especially in the welding of valve end connections.
Want to learn more about automating valve and elbow production?
“Throughout the years, Pemamek gathered a vast amount of experience from various solution implementations for the process industry.”
Jyri Luhtio, Application Manager, Offshore and Process Equipment