Welding Automation For Pipe Spool Manufacturing

Pipe spool is a critical phase of the piping process in which numerous components and work steps, such as cutting, fitting, and welding, are gone through.
We asked Pemamek’s Joonas Arola, Director of Segment Sales and Development, how automation can help in overcoming the most common challenges in pipe spool production and how PEMA solutions are designed to respond to future needs of the industry.

According to Arola, the world goes constantly towards more digitalized manufacturing. 

Joonas, you’ve worked in the industry for quite long, so you know the development in processes well. Could you describe to us, how pipe spools are manufactured today? 

Typically, the process consists of several steps. The manufacturing is done in a separate production facility from where it is transported to the actual installation site. This is because at the site the manufacturing is time-consuming, inefficient, and the conditions are not optimal for pipe spool production. Also, quality control is much easier at a dedicated workshop compared with challenging site conditions. 

Another feature that defines the industry that the length of projects can vary from a couple of days to several months. This sets certain demands for the production equipment, such as flexibility and adaptability. When it comes to the manufacturing itself, the main steps are planning, cutting, and welding. Today, lots of workshops still do those steps manually, which of course is not the most optimal and efficient way when more competitive options are available. 

Even though there are automation solutions available, why workshops still do those process phases manually?  

Of course, there can be many reasons for it depending on the nature of the workshop and typical projectsIn many cases, the manual way is the traditional way. It is understandable that if there has not been automation used before, then taking the step towards new technology feels even more difficult, and investments can even be seen as a risk in volatile workload. 

What are the most common challenges in pipe spool manufacturing?  

Let’s be honest, manufacturing pipe spools is not one of those most fascinating jobs. The working environment is dirty, messy, loud, and at times it can be even dangerous. As a result, not that many want to work in pipe spool manufacturing, and thus it is challenging to find enough skilled welders. Additionally, since manufacturing includes a lot of manual work, it raises the question of stable quality. Typically, it is those dangerous chemicals or high-pressure fluids that run in the pipes, so high quality must be guaranteed.  

Robotic welding and production automation tackle both major challenges, and that is why companies should consider changing to automated solutions.

Pipe welding with PEMA Column & Boom and SAW process.

What kinds of solutions Pemamek offer for pipe spool manufacturing?  

Handling equipment is one of the most crucial pieces of equipment in pipe spool manufacturing because, among many other things, it guarantees good ergonomics. For this, Pemamek has developed the scissortype PEMA X roller beds that are optimal for pipe shops and tube manufacturing. 

Another piece of equipment to mention is the PEMA Column & Boom, welding tower, which can be equipped according to the customer’s welding needs. As an example, in case the customer has pipe made of thin (< 8 mm thicknessstainless material then the C&B has plasma or MIG/MAG welding process, whereas in case the customer manufactures carbon steel pipes with thick walls, then the C&B is equipped with SAW. 

The third area that Pemamek excels in is robotic welding solutions with integrated positioning systems. Robotic welding is constantly growing field, and it is no wonder, because robotized solutions bring significantly better efficiency, increase working safety, and improves welding quality. A good example of Pemamek’s robotic welding excellence is the PEMA Nozzle welding solution that is designed to automatize nozzle welding in pressure vessels. 

PEMA X series roller beds are a great choice for pipe shops and tube manufacturing, thanks to their scissor-type design. The series suitable for small and large-diameter structures.

And what about the automation features? What kinds of benefits the modern technology brings to manufacturers? 

One of the major advancements is the integration between workpiece handling equipment and the welding column & boom. Everything relates to our in-house developed PEMA WeldControl system. The control system enables full management from one screen.  The integration not only streamlines the pipe spool manufacturing but also gives a better view of the entire process and facilitates controlling the machines, power sources, and welding processes.  

Finally, is there any trend currently going on in the industry? How the landscape of pipe spool manufacturing look like in the future?  

Just like any other industry, the competition will increase due to increasing globalization. This means that manufacturers are forced to rethink their production and find ways to further optimize it. Overall, in the world, we go constantly towards more digitalized operating environment. Sooner or later, this will hit the “traditional” industries as well. This has been a visible trend in the industry for few years now. 

I would recommend companies who have mainly done manufacturing manually, to start adopting modern technology step by step and at their own pace. In other words, start small and gradually grow bigger.  I am sure we can see clear, measurable growth within this segment. Naturally, Pemamek wants to help clients towards more effective production with our excellent solutions. our potential knows no geographical boundaries!

Contact us to find out more about welding and production automation!

“Our team of experts is specialized in solving customer’s production challenges and boosting production efficiency.” Joonas Arola

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