Case Studies / Arc Welding / Agricultural Irrigation Pipe II

Motoman Robots Arc Welding, Plasma Cutting, and HandlingAchieved cycle time goal of 124 seconds. System virtually eliminates weld spatter on pipe, and meets or exceeds quality requirements. Robotic system reduces direct labor requirement per shift by 50%, while improving throughput by 66.6% per hour (25 pipes vs. 15). Controllers have capability to be split into single robot controllers in the future if robots are redeployed.

Project Challenges

  • Process multiple configurations of steel irrigation pipe with 6”, 6-5/8” and 8-5/8” diameters in 19’, 24’ and 38’ lengths. Provide capability to add aluminum pipe in future. Pipe wall thickness is 2.54 mm (0.100”). 
    Pipes weigh up to 158.6 kg (350 lbs.).
  • Plasma cut holes in the pipes for couplings, and weld 2-15 couplings, 4-8 angle brackets and 2 flanges to each pipe.
  • Cycle time for processing a 38’ L, 6-5/8” dia. steel pipe with four couplings and eight brackets is approx. 124 seconds.

Motoman Robotics Solution

Motoman Robotics provided a custom 10-robot multiprocess system, including:

  • (2) UP350-200 robots (MH and GMAW).
  • (4) UP20 robots (PAC and MH).
  • (4) UP20-6 robots (GMAW).
  • (1) XRC 2001 DR2C (dual-robot) robot controller.
  • (2) XRC 2001 QR4C (quad-robot) robot controllers.
  • Infeed conveyor and part singulator (Customer supplied).
  • (2) Custom end-of-arm tools and tool racks (for UP350-200s).
  • (4) Custom end-of-arm tools (for UP20s).
  • (4) Hypertherm Powermax® 1000 power supplies and (4) Hypertherm plasma cutting torches (for UP20s).
  • (6) Miller Auto Axcess® 450 weld packages, (4) with Miller touch-sensing (for UP20-6s).
  • (6) 500-Amp Motoman Tough Gun® water-cooled torch packages.
  • (4) Reamer/sprayer nozzle cleaning stations.
  • (2) MOTOPOS™ S400 headstock positioners with integral steady rests.
  • Manual tailstock with integral steady rest – mounted on servo track.
  • Servo track with 5.8-m (19-ft) stroke (for UP350-200, tailstock).
  • (5) Pneumatic steady rests on pneumatic slides for pipe holding and removal. Slides adjust 100 mm (4”), as necessary.
  • (2) Motoman MR-300 heavy-duty 180° reciprocating positioners with flange infeed nests.
  • Gravity discharge chute and transfer system (Customer supplied).
  • (4) Vibratory bowl feeders.
  • Allen-Bradley SLC 5/05 PLC package with PanelView 1000 op station and PC touch-screen HMI.
  • Cell guarding package, including wire safety fencing with six access gates; arc flash protection curtains; dual-channel safety PLC; light curtains; and remote E-stops.

Fixtures/Tooling Details

Motoman Robotics provided custom end-of-arm tooling (robot grippers). Pneumatic grippers for UP350-200 robots include a parallel gripper for pipe handling, and a 3-jaw chuck that grabs flanges and also picks up the welding torch for flange-to-pipe welding. Pneumatic 2-jaw parallel grippers for UP20 robots grasp couplers and brackets and pick up the plasma torch, without changeover. MOTOPOS headstock positioners include spring-loaded pins to locate flanges and pneumatic paddles to clamp flanges during welding. Tapered knives center pipe during pipe/flange assembly. Cylinders eject pipe when done. Changeout between pipe diameters is minimal. Changeout components are color-coded in most instances.

Ref: ACS-060

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