In 2016 an international fabricator for the oil and gas industry wanted to
speed up production of steel girder I-beams used for o;shore platforms.
These large structural beams can have flanges up to 3 in. thick and 12 ;. wide,
with the largest beams measuring 8 ;. high and 65 ;. long, weighing 60,000
lbs. The company was using weld tractors to perform the long beam-to-flange
fillet welds, with the process requiring a minimum of three separate passes
on each side.
The company was looking for an automated welding system that would allow it to adopt a new gas metal arc welding (GMAW) process, speed up production throughput, improve operator safety and ergonomics, and deliver the
target return on investment (ROI) for the project. In addition, the fabricator
wanted to be able to repurpose the system components once the product was
completed to help increase the long-term value and utility of the equipment.
IRCO Automation was awarded the project and tasked with recommending,
designing, and building the automated welding system. It comprises two
column-and-boom welding manipulators on powered carts linked by a cable
management bridge. The entire platform measures 150 ;., allowing one I-beam to be fit up while the other is being welded.
The heavy-deposition fillet welds are performed by six GMA W torches, three
on either side, that weld both sides of the steel beam simultaneously. The system uses laser seam tracking and completes the finished weld in a single pass.
The main power cart carries an operator platform that includesb `d an
integrated control interface with remote viewing monitors and hand-held
touchscreen human-machine interfaces. Attached to each powered cart is a
nonpowered trolley cart that carries the three wire barrels and three power
supplies for its welding manipulator. This modular design allows reallocation
of the manipulators and trolley cart if needed.
The system currently is in operation and has delivered an increase in production throughput of more than 300 percent.
1080 Clay Ave., Unit #3
Burlington, ON L7L 0A1
Automated GMAW system increases
I-beam production throughput
by more than 300 percent