Automatic 3-piece Pipe Weld Cell - Midwest Engineered Systems

The Challenge

Robotically automating a welding process has a great return-on-investment (ROI). Eliminating the need to staff skilled labor to accomplish complicated welding tasks, this firm chose to move to robotic automation for their 3-piece pipe welding. Utilizing robotic automation frees this firm from the uncertainty of consistently staffing enough skilled workers in order to keep the welding throughput moving forward.

The Solution

MWES designed and built a weld cell that would allow for minimal manual intervention during the process, aside from some changeover for the different diameters.  The weld cell would utilize two ABB industrial robots that would travel along a track to handle the material, and two more ABB industrial robots to handle the welding operations.  The pipes would be loaded into an unscrambler and the operator would input the product information into the system.  The two material handling robots would use a laser scanner to verify the pipe length and pipe end.  The pipe would then be moved to a preheat station, and from there the two welding robots would use a tactile sensor to verify the joint location.  The welding would then begin with a specified number of passes on the joint.  The material handling robots would then move the pipe to a cooling station.

Pipe Weld Cell

The operation begins when a rack of pipes are loaded into the pipe unscrambler via a forklift.  Box and pin ends are loaded into their perspective que stations and the slides are locked into position.  The system operator inputs the product information into the computer via an HMI touch screen or uses a barcode reader to collect the necessary information from the product.  The material handling robots pick a pin and box ends and take them to the pin stamp station for identification stamping. The pin and box ends are placed in the press.  The robots then retrieve the necessary pipe section, first by using a laser to verify the pipe length and pipe end to use as a reference, and then gripping the pipe. The pipe is moved to the press to begin the pressing operation.  Once the pressing is complete, the material handling robots move the pipe assembly to the preheating area.

The robots move the pipe assembly into the headstock side inductance coil, while the tailstock side moves to a location to place the second inductance coil into a position of the second weld joint.  The pipe assembly is preheated to a specific temperature while infrared monitors verify and maintain the proper temperature.  Once at temperature, the pipe assembly is moved into the weld operation. The weld robots use tactile sensing to verify the joint location.  The welding process begins and continues with specific weld parameters, pass locations and angles, and with a specified number of weld passes.  Upon completion, the material handling robots move the pipe assembly onto the cooling rack.

Impact to the Customer

The automated 3-piece pipe weld cell MWES built for this firm allowed them to automate a welding process that would normally require skilled labor and time to complete.  This weld cell afforded this firm improved throughput and an ROI, while only requiring minimal labor to operate.

Midwest Engineered Systems has a wide range of experience in building robotically automated weld cells. If you’re looking to improve your welding throughput, we have the knowledge and experience to make the project a success.

Contact us to learn about how Midwest Engineered Systems can automate even your most complex and challenging operations today!

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