Precision ring and track system reduces costs

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Pipeline Induction Heat (PIH) is using two PRT2 360 degree precision ring systems from HepcoMotion to move three blast heads around oil pipe field joints and provide a key for subsequent coating. The concept has not only reduced the labour cost of a previously manual operation, but delivered far greater process consistency.

Precision ring and track system reduces costsPIH has, since its formation in 1980, diversified from its original core business of providing induction heating services for welding, to offering a range of anti-corrosion, insulation and profile infill options for pipeline field joints. The company, which today is part of the Stanley Black & Decker Group, has over 100 employees at its Burnley headquarters, and approximately double that number in the field.

Senior Development Engineer, Nick Barker, says: “Our bespoke equipment is designed to provide high-speed and repeatable application of field joint materials, and automation has been a big theme for us in recent years. We build equipment that blast-cleans offshore oil pipelines prior to coating, as this provides greater levels of adhesion. However, until recently we deployed a clam-shell design with a single hinge, with two operators to control the blasting process manually.”

PIH was already using HepcoMotion linear motion products in other equipment, but it did not take the company long to discover that rotary systems were also available.

Mr Barker explains: “Not only does our use of parallel-mounted precision rings reduce the labour cost of our previous manual process, but it also ensures protection to the health and safety of the coating personnel, as well as reduces fatigue which can often lead to errors or indeed accidents. At the same time automation helps reduce material consumption, wastage and hence environmental impact. However, the greatest benefit is that we can now offer far greater levels of blasting consistency, and subsequently, of coating.”

The PRT2 Precision Ring and Track system from HepcoMotion is a friction-free, debris-tolerant system that combines ring segments and straight slides to achieve an almost limitless variation of open paths and closed circuits. It matches the requirement at PIH as the rings provide effortless guidance around the periphery of the pipe, which also moves through the PRT2 ring centre. This PRT2 feature means the entire external surface area of the pipe can be assessed and blasted. The twin PRT2 systems used on the PIH equipment incorporate HepcoMotion Floating Bearings – caged needle rollers designed to provide axial movement (float) in the V-position. These are especially useful where two rings or track systems are mounted apart, because the float compensates for parallelism tolerances between the opposing Vs.

Some 12 months after building its first automated pipeline blasting system, PIH has since completed a further four, all of which are now operational at sites around the world where they work typically across 12-hour shift patterns.

To learn more about the PRT2 360 degree precision ring system, please go to

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