ARC Specialties selects Universal Robots as ‘Golden Arm’ in New Artificial Intelligence Pipe Welding System Launching at OTC 2019
ARC Specialties has solved the challenge of creating repeatable full penetration pipe welds by combining AI, advanced sensors, and the UR5 collaborative robot from Universal Robots. The unique Artificial Intelligence Pipe Welding System debuts at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, May 6-9.
Ann Arbor, Michigan - The toughest welds to make are full penetration, single sided, V butt, pipe welds. Historically, ARC Specialties, a Houston-based developer of welding solutions, declined these jobs because joint fit-up was never repeatable. “Only human welders with a ‘golden arm’ able to compensate for variation in root openings, weld center lines, and groove volumes could handle this challenge,” says Dan Allford, President of ARC Specialties. “With the industry facing labor shortages, we decided to develop an intelligent machine with complete knowledge of pipe welding, with full motion and welding control.”
The Artificial Intelligence Pipe Welding System (AIPW) incorporates the 6-axis UR5 collaborative robot arm from Universal Robots to carry out the challenging welds. “The UR5 now becomes our ‘golden arm’,” says Allford. “The UR5 is small enough to be portable yet still allows full freedom of motion for both the laser scanner and welding torch. Being collaborative the robot is able to safely work in close proximity to humans.” The AIPW officially launches at ARC Specialties’ booth 705 at the Offshore Technology Conference held in Houston, TX, May 6-9.
Stuart Shepherd, Regional Sales Director of Universal Robots’ Americas division, is delighted to see the UR5 power ARC’s AIPW system. “This implementation underscores our collaborative robots’ ability to handle heavy-duty processing tasks that demand both high precision and real-time adaptability,” he says. “We’re excited to share this solution with the oil and gas industry.”
The AIPW pre-scans the root opening (gap) using a 2D laser, then uses the data to generate the robot path and welding parameters. Gap variations are compensated for with changes in oscillation, torch position, travel speed and welding conditions. The UR5 positions the torch over a tack weld to start the arc to insure 100% root weld acceptance. Fill and cap pass programs are optimized to fill the groove using user selectable weave or stringer bead welding techniques. The AIPW uses the Miller Auto Continuum welding power supply to weld the root with Regulated Metal Deposition (RMD), then switches to pulsed spray for the fill and cap passes. This combination of Gas Metal Arc Welding techniques maximizes welding productivity while producing X-Ray quality, full penetration pipe welds.
The AIPW follows two other successful welding solutions featuring Universal Robots developed by ARC Specialties; the MIG welding SnapWeld and the plasma cutting SnapCut. SnapWeld just became the first product ever to win New Equipment Digest’s Innovation Award two years in a row.
About Universal Robots
Universal Robots was co-founded in 2005 by the company’s CTO, Esben Østergaard – the 2018 Engelberger Award Winner – who wanted to make robot technology accessible to all by developing small, user-friendly, reasonably priced, flexible industrial robots that are safe to work with. Since the first collaborative robot (cobot) was launched in 2008, the company has experienced considerable growth with the user-friendly cobot now sold worldwide. The company, which is a part of Teradyne Inc., is headquartered in Odense, Denmark, and has subsidiaries and regional offices in the United States, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Czech Republic, Turkey, China, India, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Mexico. In 2017, Universal Robots had a revenue of USD 170 million.
About ARC Specialties
ARC Specialties was founded in 1983 by Dan Allford to provide welding services and weld automation to industry. Since then, ARC Specialties has grown to a 60+ person company occupying a campus with over 75,000 sq ft. in Houston, TX. These buildings house all the components for a vertically integrated manufacturing solution provider: research, design, manufacturing, assembly and testing at a single location. ARC Specialties has built machines for companies in 21 countries and a variety of industries. The staff includes project managers, mechanical and electrical designers as well as welders, electricians and assembly technicians.