Productiviy with HyperFill courtsey Lincoln ElectricClick image to enlarge

The game of professional football and process pipe welding may not seem to bear any similarities. But they do share a single important one. Football has long been described as a “game of inches”. Welding pipe is also a game of inches, specifically “diameter inches per day”, the key measure of productivity for a shop’s process piping operations.

The average for manual welding shops is 65-80 diameter inches per day. Top performing shops average 80-100 diameter inches per shift. A world class operation, however, can run at 100 diameter inches or better per day.

How can you get your pipe welding operations performing among the best? David Jordan, global industry segment director, pipe mills and process industries for Lincoln Electric and Rick Campbell, vice president sales for Novarc Technologies, believe investment in a twin-wire MIG solution, particularly when coupled with automation, provides a breakthrough in the magnitude of a three- to eight-fold increase in productivity. The two collaborated on a recent webinar entitled Introduction to Collaborative pipe spool welding robots and high deposition HyperFill technology, hosted by CWB Association’s BC chapter.

“At the end of the day, it really is about pounding in that metal as quickly and as accurately as possible. It’s about time savings. It’s about accuracy,” said Campbell. “You have to figure out (what investment in such technology) is going to do for your business. When you think of increasing productivity three to eight times, it’s about reducing the costs in your bids. Or, if you’re deploying this on a project that you’ve already won, you’ve just blown up your margins massive by being able to reduce the overall time of execution.”

But before we can judge whether reality lives up to the hype, let’s begin with an introduction to the technologies Campbell and Jordan are referring to.

The HyperFill welding process was designed by Lincoln Electric and released about three years ago. Originally designed for welding in heavy fabrication industries, it was developed into a process for many industries and applications, including process piping for the 1G (horizontal rolled) position. It’s a twin-wire MIG solution, designed to run with Lincoln Electric welding wire. The advantage provided by HyperFill’s twin wires is the formation of a liquid bridge as the two wires melt off a single droplet, leading to high deposition rates.

“Because we are using two wires to generate that droplet, the droplet is actually larger (than it would be if using a single wire) and the arc cone is wider and the resulting penetration profile is wider as well,” Jordan says. “The wider arc cone more evenly distributes the arc energy, making the arc more stable so we are able to travel at the leading edge of the puddle and we can get much faster travel speeds.”

Jordan adds that the advantage of the twin-wire process is not just that it creates high deposition rates but that it creates high “useable” deposition rates. Single wire MIG reaches a saturation point where the arc becomes unstable so you can’t turn the speed up any higher.

Jordan also points out that although HyperFill uses two wires, it still only requires a single power source, wire feeder, water cooler, gun liner, contact tip and high-performance engineered GMAW wire.

“It is almost the same as a single GMAW wire set-up,” he says.

The HyperFill process is not for all process piping. It has its sweet spot for productivity gains over single wire MIG. That sweet spot is in piping in the range of 150-610 mm (6-24”) in diameter with a wall thickness of 11-25 mm (0.432 – 1”) wall thickness at the 1G position.

The increase in productivity compared to other processes is “quite dramatic”,  says Jordan. Lincoln Electric’s own estimates are that traditional processes – GTAW, SMAW, GMAW, FCAW, GMAW-P – produce deposition rates of 3-8 lbs/hr on process piping at the 1G position. HyperFill can produce a deposition rate upwards of 15 lbs/hr. As impressive as that is, the productivity gains are even greater when Hyperfill is coupled with an automated system.

Novarc’s Spool Welding Robot (SWR) is the first automated solution that Lincoln Electric has combined with HyperFill. Novarc is a north Vancouver-based company that started in 2013 serving oil field service companies, mechanical contractors and engineers and the shipbuilding industry, predominantly in North America.  It has experienced near 100 per cent year-over-year growth the last three years, according to Campbell.

“It’s those industries that are looking at us and saying how can we become more competitive in the markets we serve? What they found is that they’re able to weld faster with us, they’re reducing their repair rates so they’re welding better,” says Campbell.

Novarc’s SWR is designed for pipe fabrication and can support roll welding requirements of pressure vessels and process pipes under significant standards such as ASME B31.1 and B31.3 for pipes, elbows, neck and slip-on flanges. SWR productivity with a single wire welding process reaches 200-350 diameter inches per shift. Add Hyperfill’s twin wire technology and productivity can shoot up to 500 diameter inches per shift.

“It’s a massive, massive jump in what you can typically experience in a shop. Think of having three to five times the productivity,” Campbell says.

Of course, increasing productivity is pointless if in the process of going faster you reduce quality. Manual welding operations in North America average a 3-5 per cent repair rate with top performers capable of a 1-2 per cent repair rate. SWR quality is capable of a less than 1 per cent repair rate, Campbell says.

“If you’re running 6,000 pipes through this in a year with a 3% repair rate, that’s 180 pipes you have to x-ray, tear down, redo and re x-ray again. It’s about $1,000 per pipe so there is about $180,000 in repair costs going out the door. Even if you move that 2% to the left, you’ve just saved $120,000 per year on repairs alone,” Campbell says.

Every time the weld is on, the SWR system records it. The system also records all the parameters that are built into the weld, providing accountability and traceability.

“All that info and the quality control side of it is then allowing business development managers, who are going out and quoting on jobs, to take real quantifiable data and be more competitive when bidding on projects. It gives you that leg up and allows you to start taking greenfield opportunities away. It allows you to change the game from what you are doing,” Campbell asserts.

Rego-Fix opens new US facility

Rego-Fix Tool Corp. opened its new 1,858 sq m (20,000  sq ft) facility in Whitestown, IN, on May 5. with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The new operation is designed to strengthen customer support in North America.

Welder membership aims to engage more welders

The Canadian Welding Association (CWA) wants to engage Canada's 200,000-plus welders and has created a new welder membership to do just that. The association kicked off the new membership with a special event at the Collective Arts Brewery in Hamilton, ON.

Prima Power celebrates 10 year union, plans expansion

Prima Industrie S.p.A. is celebrating the ten-year acquisition of Finn-Power with plans to move Finn-Power OY into a new 20, 000 sq m in Findland.

GM to build electric Silverado at Detroit's Factory Zero

General Motors will build its first electric pickup truck at it’s new Factory Zero plant in Detroit.

Growth for Canada's aerospace sector

The Canadian aerospace sector is set for production growth in 2017, according to an industry outlook report from The Conference Board of Canada, "Canadian Industrial Outlook: Canada's Aerospace Manufacturing Industry."

Lincoln, PypeServer announce partnership

Lincoln Electric and PypeServer Inc. have announced a partnership under which all newly-sold MPM pipe profilers from Lincoln’s Vernon Tool division will come standard with PypeServer software.

Bentley expands 3D printing to produce thousands of new components

Bentley Motors, perhaps the most famous luxury car brand in the world, is embracing a future that includes leaning on the advantages of additive manufacturing.

Edmonton school first with new welding program

An Edmonton, AB, high school has become the first one in the country to implement a new welding curriculum created by the Canadian Welding Bureau Intitute's ACORN program, launched earlier this year.

Auto manufacturing: cleaner cars for future

The BC government has announced an investment of $10.6 million in a multi-faceed approach to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from road transportation in the province, and industry pundits says it will spur demand for cleaner automotive technologies.

NAFTA: US pushes for stringent auto content

The Canadian automotive manufacturing industry is concerned about ongoing NAFTA negotiations in light of recent reports that the US is pushing for more stringent US auto content, according to media and industry reports.

Business leaders across Canada demand end to border blockades

The continuing blockades of critical infrastructure by trucker-led protesters demanding the removal of all Covid-19 mandates is undermining Canada’s international reputation and could have “serious economic and reputational consequences for the years ahead,” warns the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and dozens of business organizations from across the country.

Nexwave Machinery distributor lands Bystronic exclusive

Nexwave Machinery has signed a deal to become the exclusive Eastern Canadian distributor for Bystronic's cutting and bending equipment.

Mazak completes Kentucky spindle rebuild facility

Mazak Corp. has completed the expansion of its Spindle Rebuild Department as part of a $15 million investment in its Florence, Ken.-based manufacturing campus.

Mazak’s Brian Papke recognized for lifetime dedication

Brian Papke, former chairman and current executive advisor to the board of Mazak Corp., has received the prestigious Al Moore Award for his lifetime of dedication to the manufacturing industry.

BLM Group announces new sales managers for Canada, U.S. regions

Jon Tibbets (left) and Scott Osborne

BLM Group USA has announced the appointment of two new regional sales managers to help develop sales of the company’s laser tube cutting systems, benders and machining equipment product lines.

Stay In Touch

twitter facebook linkedIn