Whether onshore or offshore, welding is a critical step in the overall pipeline production process. This paper focuses on the use of advanced vision and controls to improve both the quality and efficiency of pipeline welding. As a result of recent developments, 3D vision is now being used for validating pipe beveling, measuring pipe ends prior to selection, weld tracking during welding and weld inspection after welding. When combined with advanced welding processes enabled by digital controls, the overall combination of vision and control greatly improves the welding process. The paper includes several examples of technology that has been proven in the field.
To give one specific example, welding at spoolbases is arranged at a number of sequential stations for maximum speed and efficiency. Detection of a weld defect by final UT leads to an expensive cut out, back up and repair. By using a internal vision system to inspect root welds as soon as they are made, many defects can be identified and rectified early before subsequent welding passes, with significant cost and time savings.