The flange to tube cell is a robotic production system for assembly and welding of flanges and sockets to tubes for bespoke pipe infrastructure in the offshore, shipbuilding and petrochemical industries. This innovative system consists of four simultaneously operating robots mounted on a travelling track. Using vision technology the robots automatically position, tack and weld a wide range of flanges and sockets to tubes of any desired length.
After loading the tube from the storage, the tubes are blasted and sawed according to CAD-design. Two large robots pick up the flanges with special tooling. During pick-up the integrated vision system determines the position and orientation of the flange. Parallel to this, the tube is loaded into the clamping and rotation units according to the correct tube length. The vision system compensates for dimensions of the tube and aligns the flange onto the tube. Two small robots tack the flanges to the clamped tube. After tacking, the tube is rotated at welding speed while all four robots simultaneously weld both flanges, each on one side of the tube. After completion, the tubes are transferred to the correct output buffer.
The production line is operated by one operator using its full graphical operator interface. The menu structure and push buttons of the Arithmetic Robot Application Control (ARAC) operator interface automatically guide the operator to the right command to perform a certain task. Actions as manual robot control for service, adjusting parameters or real-time control of the process are clearly shown by symbols on a touch screen. New operators can operate the system within days without having any language barriers.
The high accuracy and faster delivery times achieved by implementing the flange to tube welding cell results in 91 per cent less required man hours.