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Trouble-free pipe manufacturing

Trouble-free pipe manufacturing

Leaky pipes are frequently responsible for costly damage to buildings. The quality of the seal between pipe connectors and the transporting media, and the dimensional accuracy of pipes, couplings and fittings in general, are critical topics for manufacturers of piping and piping accessories. The most important preventative measure has been to perform spot checks for the tolerance levels using caliper gauges. This time consuming and error prone method is no longer necessary, thanks to ConPro GmbH: With the DimCon system, measurement of the dimensional accuracy is faster and more precise than with caliper gauges, and is also completely non-contact.

“To this day, it is still common practice to cut open a pipe coupling lengthwise, trace its contour on paper and measure its angle manually with an angle gauge,” explains dieter Büsching, Technical manager at conpro GmbH. it is practically impossible to avoid measurement errors, and the whole process is very time consuming. When there are multiple values to be checked, half a day is goes quickly down the drain. in practice, complex pipe components are therefore only measured at a few selected points, and even then only in random samples. “simply determining the measurement points can already cause problems,” adds the conpro expert. “When a measurement is repeated, the many sources of error result in frequent deviations in the results.”

With the new dimcon measurement system from conpro on the other hand, all the data for a simple pipe coupling can be captured and visualized in a few seconds, once its shape has been recorded via teach-in. “in the course of this interactive input process, the user can use the touch panel to easily specify what and where should be measured,” emphasizes Büsching. “The data is then stored in a ‚recipe‘.” This allows the user to select individual parameters, such as the inner diameter, the outer diameter, the wall thickness or the angle of a pipe element for an automatic measurement, and save the selection for later use. it is also possible to create a recipe on an office pc and then transfer it to the measurement system via the network.

Insert the product, select the recipe and go

All the operator of the measurement system has to do then is insert the product in the machine and select the desired recipe. The system takes care of the rest. The heart of the device is comprised of two lasers mounted on a disk, which can be rotated using a servo motor. There are two arms of equal length attached to the disk at a 90° angle, each equipped with a mirror. one arm is aligned with the center of the pipe so that it redirects the laser radially to the interior surface of the pipe. The second arm is parallel to the first one at the edge of the disk. This mirror directs the second laser radially to the center axis of the pipe.

Messsysteme für die Kunststoffindustrie / Measurement systems for the plastics industry
Produkt einlegen, Rezept wählen und starten / Insert the product, select the recipe and go

A second motor is designed to move the entire arrangement along the pipe axis in order to bring the lasers into position. using the motors, which are controlled by two Acopos drives from B&R, the pair of lasers can reach any part of the pipe element. The laser beams triangulate the distance to the interior or exterior surface at the same position on the pipe. The measurement has a precision of 0.0212 mm (dimcon 200 for pipe diameters from 32 to200 mm). All other dimensions, including ovality and eccentricity, as well as the data for a 3d model, are derived from this one measurement.

The laser modules output the measurement results as a distance in millimeters. The sensors are controlled via two rs422 interfaces on a pci interface card, which calculates the sensor information and correlates it with the angle data received via an encoder interface on the card. The actual measurement data processing, as well as recipe management and visualization, is handled by a power panel with a 15” touch screen. The data can also be shared with other computers via a network connection, where it can be used for a 3d visualization or for documentation, for example. To lighten the load on the panel resources, the control functions are located in the intelligent Acopos drives, which are equipped with a soft plc. An operator interface, consisting of a key field with an e-stop switch and six illuminated ring keys, provides safe and comfortable operation of the measurement system.

B&R‘s complete and uniform solution brings savings

“The quality and uniformity of B&R‘s solution were important factors in our decision, and persuaded us to go with B&R automation technology for this measurement system,” argues Büsching. “This saves us from time-consuming adaptations, such as establishing communication between the controller and the drives.”

Another advantage of the complete and uniform solution: conpro was able to reuse an image previously developed for a different measurement system with only minimal changes. “in addition to the time saved here, the exemplary support provided by B&R also influenced our decision.”

The hard work and dedication of conpro and B&r has paid off. The measurement system has received excellent feedback from users, as the conpro manager emphasizes: “We are completely satisfied with the performance of the machines delivered so far. The users especially appreciate the ability to perform useful measurements quickly and accurately, and ensure effective quality control without having to use inconvenient sensors and other contactdependent methods.”

Die Messgenauigkeit beträgt dabei 0,012 mm (DimCon 200 für Rohrdurchmesser von 32 bis 200 mm) bzw. 0,025 mm (DimCon 500/600 für Durchmesser bis 500/600 mm). The measurement has a precision of 0.0212 mm (DimCon 200 for pipe diameters from 32 to200 mm)

The full potential of the architecture and the laser measurement method has not yet been tapped, however, as Büsching explains: “We‘re already working on further developments, for which potential customers have already expressed interest.” These include a system that can measure pipes up to a diameter of 800 mm, as well as an optional robot-guided positioning of objects for measurement and in-line measurement systems. even though the dimcon automation architecture more than fulfills all the functional requirements, there are further developments planned for this area as well: With the latest B&R technology, dimcon hopes to continue to reduce automation costs. The two Acopos servo drives with integrated soft plcs will likely be replaced by a single Acoposmicro (two channel operation) and an X20 cpu in order to minimize component costs.

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