5 Benefits Automated Pipe Welding Affords
Pipefitters have long been able to apply the many advantages of automated pipe welding to their construction jobs. Using a precisely controlled robot welder, construction professionals can speed production, improve quality and accuracy, and reduce the amount of time necessary for placing and installing pipes.
Automated pipe welding relies extensively on the best and most reliable industrial robotics systems. These systems usually consist of a robotic arm containing a heavy-duty welding head intended for continuous use. The servo-controlled arm is designed to traverse more than one axis, allowing the welding head to approach the material to be welded from numerous angles. Robotic welding technology has advanced to the point that many types of effective and reliable welding systems are available as standard off-the-shelf equipment.
Several types of automated pipe welding systems are available, depending on your needs.
1. Robotic laser welding uses a standard multiple-axis mechanical arm with a laser cutting and welding head attached to the faceplate at the end of the arm. The head contains the optics that focus the laser light for welding processes, plus an assist gas system that distributes oxygen, nitrogen or other gas to the welding heat.
2. Robotic arc welding employs the same type of free-moving robotic arm, but the head of the arm is fitted for arc welding. This setup usually consists of a specialized power source that provides the electrical power necessary for arc weld. The arc welding gun or torch fitted on the head of the arm is set up to transmit the current while an electrode feeder directs the electrode wire into the arc.
Automated pipe welding systems will also include fixtures for holding pieces to be welded in place and handlers or manipulators to turn, shift or otherwise move pieces into and out of the welding process.
There are five major benefits to using an automated pipe welding process.
1. Flexibility: Automated welding provides the precision, flexibility and sometimes delicacy that pipe welding requires. With an automated process, these features can be delivered over and over again. Automated pipe welding accommodates the varying applications, torch angles, weld directions and processes required to weld pipes of differing dimensions, that are made of different materials or that require specialized fittings.
2. Quality: The automated process delivers consistent, high-quality welds. The advanced robotic technology is extremely accurate and can be relied upon to make the same type of weld again and again with little or no variation. The welding process can be augmented with machine-vision equipment, sensors and tracking systems that improve quality and precision even further.
3. Control: Robotic welding lets pipefitters and other construction professionals monitor, adjust and control the welding process at every stage. Adjustments can easily be made to the piece holders and positioners, current, electrode wire feed, torch angle and arm movements.
4. Materials conservation: The consistency of automated pipe welding allows construction professionals to expect the same results every time. There is less chance of error or incorrect welding that would require a piece to be discarded. Automated welding leads to less wasted material and quicker production.
5. Time savings: The speed of an automated welding process can be accurately determined, allowing pipefitters to precisely calculate the length of welding cycles. In-shop automated welding combined with project pre-planning reduces the amount of time spent making welds and adjustments in the field. Most automated welding systems can be programmed off-line, which limits the amount of downtime needed for changes and adjustments to the process.
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