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Automated welding and nondestructive examination (NDE) are often separate tasks performed by different workgroups. A typical workflow outline is as follows:
A welding group installs a mechanized system and starts welding a joint. Welds often require multiple passes to complete. Visual inspection confirms each pass's quality, which is limited to surface-breaking indication detection. When all weld passes are complete, the welding system is removed. An NDE group will then install a different mechanized system and perform an inspection of the final welded joint. If the NDE reveals a problem with the weld, the weld may require repair.
The welding team will then have to go back and remove the defect, sometimes several passes deep, reinstall their welding system, and perform a weld repair. NDE repeats this cycle until the welds pass inspections.
Combining welding and NDE groups improves the overall process compared to a standard workflow. At a minimum, the two workgroups can share a common motion platform that supports a welding head and NDE probes. With most welding applications, it is also possible for NDE to be performed in parallel with the welding as an in-process inspection. This new merger of workflows improves equipment costs, training requirements, execution, and rework time.
When the NDE and welding groups use a common motion platform and controller, the hardware cost savings are substantial. NDE probes and sensors can be designed to connect directly to the welding system. This produces more design constraints for the welding system, but most platforms can be easily modified to accommodate NDE requirements — Fig. 1.
Figure 1 V Head (GTAW) with trailing ET probe
With a common motion platform and controller, technicians only require training on one system. This approach simplifies training personnel and equipment maintenance.
Trained welding technicians operate the robotic system and set up the NDE probes, which allows NDE personnel to bypass training to focus on NDE data quality, acquisition, and analysis.
Instead of relying on redundant systems to ensure continuous workflow for a typical campaign, having one common platform reduces contingency costs, costs for spare parts, and consumables.
To learn more about automated welding and nondestructive examination, check out our article in the August issue of Inspection Trends on pages 20 - 24.
To see how Liburdi Dimetrics can help optimize your welding campaigns contact Jason Elliott at jelliott@liburdi.com.