Automated Seam Tracking

Welding processes installed on: TIG; Plasma; Laser tube welding

In the world of tube and pipe manufacturing, it is all about making the best product with the least amount of waste in the fastest time possible. These key ingredients allow for firms to be competitive and be profitable. New innovations regularly receive attention when they increase a mill’s productivity and efficiency. Cutting edge techniques have begun to streamline an industry that once required tedious and time-consuming efforts to ensure quality. Technological achievements such as laser-based system for seam tracking, have allowed tube and pipe producers to evolve their offering and expand their market.

The basic principle of seam tracking is to place a laser sensor in front of a welding torch to allow
automatic adjustment of the position in vertical and horizontal directions. For tube production, the vertical displacement is maintained by the mechanical properties of the mill. The horizontal displacement however can vary due to upstream or downstream disturbances in the tube mill.

One of the main benefits of automatic seam tracking is that the error in the actual position of the electrode relative to the ideal position is greatly reduced when compared to an unmanned station.

With recognized benefits such as:

  • The system corrects the position automatically, thereby stabilizing the weld penetration depth and fusion.
  • The system can identify gap and alert the operator
  • Reduced time required for pre-weld setup
  • Productivity improvements and quality improvements.
  • Quality Assurance

The seam tracking head contains a CMOS camera, and one laser source which projects three laser stripes on the surface. The lasers act as a light source, and project a stripe onto the surface under the sensor. The seam tracking camera views the stripe directly under the sensor. The three laser stripes provide increased accuracy as the point values are averaged across the three lines.

An effective quality control system is crucial for highly competitive industries or industries with a high degree of compliance such as tube manufacturing. With mill run rates in the thousands of dollars per hour and tonnage of steel scraped or sold as seconds, profit can erode quickly in a shift. Having explained this, it should be no surprise that customer quality is one of the top reasons for a manufacturing quality system mindset. Automated seam tracking for tube and pipe producers allows these goals to be realized through best practice methods.
Feel free to peruse the site, ask a question, request a quote, get in touch with us about seam tracking and we would be glad to listen to your goals towards quality and productivity.