Narrow-gap offshore pipe-welding is typically performed in challenging environment and with exceptionally high quality requirements. Pipe-laying industry’s zero tolerance for welding defects is understandable since even one non compliant weld could have major ecological and economic consequences. The last 20 years have seen a significant increase in pipeline installation complexity and associated acceptance criteria of them.
SERIMAX SAS is a specialist in pipe-joining projects in the offshore oil and gas pipeline industry. Customer projects typically include phases such as the qualification of the applied welding process, custom development of the welding equipment and on site off-shore or on-shore welding. SERIMAX uses orbital MIG/MAG welding to join the pipes of various diameters and wall thicknesses together and has developed its own solutions for each application.
The expertise of welders is absolutely crucial for obtaining high-quality welds. However, working positions can often be uncomfortable and the exposure to welding fumes must be avoided.
EXTERNAX, the latest welding equipment developed by SERIMAX, had to integrate a very compact welding carriage. Welding process remote control became mandatory.
The welding cameras from CAVITAR Ltd, the Finnish specialist in diode laser based illumination and monitoring systems for industrial and scientific applications, have been successfully implemented in EXTERNAX production environment for several years. According to SERIMAX, this collaboration has been successful and results beyond expectations.
Remote control of the EXTERNAX welding equipment made possible with Cavitar’s welding camera.
Based on these excellent results, SERIMAX and CAVITAR have started long-term collaboration in 2014 in order to enable the utilization of Cavitar’s welding camera in SERIMAX’s future orbital welding equipment. The co-operation aims to further develop visual welding monitoring to improve welders’ HSE (Health & Safety Executive) and orbital welding process control.
The robust industrial welding monitoring solutions developed by CAVITAR provide the welder with a clear view to the orbital MIG/MAG arc process. Since the arc brightness is greatly suppressed, exceptional image quality of the welding process can be obtained. At the same time the monitor screen can be placed in a remote location from the radiation and process fumes. All these benefits allow the welder to fully concentrate on the welding process itself in order to achieve best possible weld quality.
An additional key benefit of the monitoring system is that the entire process can be recorded in the form of high-quality videos. This data can be added to the weld quality supervisor files, Quality Control and traceability are therefore improved.
The welding camera is based on active high-power pulsed diode laser illumination at the visible wavelength. The essentially monochromatic light of the laser enables to see the welding process in detail without the blinding brightness of the arc.
Figure 2 shows an example image from the narrow gap MIG/MAG arc welding process. As can be seen, it is possible to have a clear view from the process. Also torch and wire position with respect to the gap can be checked and adjusted accordingly.
Fig. 2. Image taken from the narrow-gap welding process with Cavitar’s Welding Camera
The system consists of two sensor units, control unit, panel PC, software and flexible industrial grade cables. By having two sensor units (Fig. 3.), it is possible to see both front and back side of the welding process simultaneously. Each sensor unit contains camera with integrated laser illumination. The volume of the sensor unit is approximately 0,5 l and the weight is approximately 0,5 kg.