JMP Engineering, London ON (Automotive, Industrial, Manufacturing

By: Jmp Engeneering  09-12-2011

Robotic Application of Thread Protectors and Couplings to Pipes for the Oil and Gas Industry

JMP's PipeFlex solutions are vision guided robotic systems for automating the application of thread protectors and couplings to oil and gas pipes.

JMP's turn-key PipeFlex solutions are a one-stop-shop for customers looking to source a complete package, not just the robotics. Systems include integration with existing equipment including pipe transfer mechanisms and bucking machine, safety systems, OEE package, and operator and maintenance training.

There are two steps to automating thread protector application. The first step is getting the thread protector out of the bin/tote/pallet. The next step is to apply the thread protector to the end of the pipe.

Step One: Get the thread protectors out of the bin/tote/pallet
Automated Options:

For semi-ordered pallets, where the product is located on tier sheets in a consistent orientation, JMP recommends using a robotic vision guidance solution where a robot is used to locate the thread protectors on the layers and automatically pick them. This also works well for handling of couplings.

For companies that receive thread protectors in a completely jumbled form, JMP recommends the bulk feeder system. This system can receive full totes of thread protectors and uses tooling to isolate and orient them. The thread protectors flow out of this equipment in a single lane with a consistent orientation for the next process.

Manual Options:

JMP has several manual load conveyor options that allow an operator to manually load thread protectors onto infeed conveyor(s) to feed the thread protector application process. These conveyors can be sized to allow operators to load a batch or protectors and then free up some of their time to take care of other tasks around the work area while these are being unloaded. This also functions well for couplings.

Step Two: Apply the thread protectors to the end of the pipe

JMP uses a 6-axis heavy-duty industrial robot to perform the application of the thread protectors and couplings. The real black magic in these systems is dealing with the inherent variability of the pipes and the process.

The robot uses a combination of guidance along with mechanical compliance to find and accommodate variations in pipe location along with pipe straightness. The robot's gripper is designed to meet the rigorous environment, cycle requirements while allowing the compliance required to handle the variability and allowing the robot to achieve the required torques for the process. The system is designed for the harsh environments of a steel plant.

System Capabilities
  • Heady-duty Articulated Robot for thread protector application
  • Variety of feeding options including vision-guided bin picking, bulk feeding, or infeed conveyor
  • Handles a wide array pipe sizes - 2" to 20" with minimal changeover and/or automatic changeover
  • Options for vision quality inspection of product
  • Ambient temperature ranges from 32oF to 115oF.

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