Enerflex moves itself 30 years into the future with HGG pipe cutting machine
A case study on Pressure Vessel Cutting.
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The Enerflex Story
Enerflex Ltd, an international company headquartered in Calgary, provides products, services and integrated solutions around the world, focusing on customers that process and move energy between the wellhead and the market. The company supplies solutions for natural gas compression, oil and gas processing, refrigeration systems and power generation equipment. Each substructure Enerflex makes integrates a series of pressure vessels, which in-turn requires a highly skilled and hard-to-find labor force.
Enerflex customers range from small local oil and gas companies to the world’s biggest names in oil and gas delivery, including Shell and Imperial Oil.
Enerflex had been speculating at automated profile cutting machinery for pressure vessels for almost 10 years, but nothing met the company’s expectations. First, most of the machines they reviewed were roller-driven, which created a host of problems. Product had a tendency to bounce over the long seam. Plus, those machines utilized sensors on top requiring constant attention. Someone needed to lift or neutralize the sensors as they passed over. Accuracy was always an issue. Other machines were ruled out because the companies did not offer adequate support, either on-line or through local distributors.
The choice for HGG
When a local distributor, All Fabrication Machinery Ltd, introduced Enerflex to the HGG SPC 2500 Profile Cutting Machine all of their questions and concerns were addressed. First, the SPC 2500 is chuck-driven, providing stable, secure and most important, precision cutting with repeatability. A multi-head cutter enables Enerflex to cut with various torches and gases, (plasma or oxyfuel). This was especially important because Enerflex typically cuts different types of material, including carbon steel from 3/8 inches to several inches thick as well as stainless steel. The machine included embedded software to manage exact cuts and hole locations, to nest profiles, and offered Enerflex the ability (at some point) to fully integrate their CAD system. In addition, pre-programmed componentry not only eliminated the need to manually cut and fabricate pressure vessels, it also eliminated the need to manually cut other products such as exhaust systems, elbows, mixing boxes, and air intakes.
According to Shawn Johnston, Enerflex Production Manager, “The SPC 2500 provided a single machine solution. With other supplier solutions, we would have needed as many as three machines to achieve the same cutting capabilities.” Today, Enerflex uses the same SPC 2500 machine to cut pipe ranging from six to ninety-eight diameter inches (152 mm to 2,500 mm). The machine also incorporates built-in marking tools for drawing lines and positioning holes prior to cutting for quality assurance and accuracy checks.
When Enerflex visited the HGG plant in the Netherlands, company representatives discovered a major synergistic difference from other machine suppliers. They discovered that HGG is not just a machine manufacturer that sells machines. By maintaining on-site subcontracting services, HGG provided a sense of confidence because the company is also a working shop that uses this same machinery every day to fill customer orders. (HGG Profiling Contractors BV offers cut-to-size services including weld preparation for pipes and hollow sections, as well as for HEA, HEB and IPE beams, and special profiles.)
After several months of machine cutting at the Calgary plant, Kurt Schaerer, general manager Enerflex, estimated that the SPC 2500 had already improved overall department capacity somewhere between 25% and 30%. To begin with, the SPC 2500 ink jet marking tools dramatically improved layout time. Prior to the machine, it took approximately 2–3 hours to add marking lines on a virgin cylinder shell of 48 inches (1200 mm) diameter vessel, plus an additional 1-2 hours for a quality insurance man to confirm all of the marking lines were correct before a single cut was made. Afterwards, it took another 3-5 hours to cut the holes manually and then shape the holes by grinding in the proper bevels, insuring a proper fit-up to weld the corresponding nozzle. On average and in total, it took about 8–10 hours to prepare a typical shell to weld-in the nozzles. Now the entire process takes about one hour. Schaerer: “Larger vessels that might have taken as many as 40 man-hours are now cut and ready for weld in as little as four hours.”
With the capabilities the machine offers, Enerflex now has his sites set on full integration. “As we move forward, we want to fully integrate the SPC 2500 with our CAD system at the highest level. It is our intention to be able to produce a 3-D parametric drawing, which easily translates into a fabrication drawing, bill of material and 3-D cut file.” With full integration, Enerflex will be able to incorporate input from the designer and the engineer, as well as include complete cutting instructions, and even staging and full product planning and scheduling in each file. The SPC 2500 will be more than just a profile equipment solution. It will change the entire material handling process.
Summing it up, Schaerer said, “The SPC 2500 has already moved Enerflex 30 years into the future of automation and automated cutting. It has changed the way we do business and will continue to change the way we do business.”
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