The Xiris Blog

Using a Weld Camera in High-Humidity Environments

Posted by Cameron Serles on Thursday, November 28, 2013 @ 07:35 PM

Some welding applications must be done in high-humidity conditions that can cause problems for Weld Cameras.

Because of the heat around the weld arc, a Weld Camera must be cooled during operation. In a high-humidity environment such as a jungle location, the high humidity results in condensation forming on the lines that flow cool air into the camera to accomplish the cooling. If the Weld Camera isn’t waterproof, the condensation can run along the air lines into the camera’s electrical components, causing shorting or oxidation.

Condensation on a Weld Camera's cooling lines can cause damage to the camera.Outdoor welding is a common reason for high humidity. In addition, other types of welding such as that done on Tube or Pipe mills, where a large amount of water/oil coolant is used, also create high humidity around the weld camera.

Whatever the cause, when using a Weld Camera in such an environment, a sealed housing to waterproof the camera is essential for ensuring long-term operation.

For the Xiris XVC-O Weld Camera—which features state-of-the-art High Dynamic Range imaging to help operates better see critical details of a weld—we designed a rugged, enclosed housing that’s IP67-rated and therefore able to resist water, smoke and other ambient particulates found in the immediate area of a weld process.

We recently visited a customer site where this sealed housing was desperately needed. The customer was welding in Southeast Asia—a jungle environment where the humidity was 100 percent and the ambient temperature was a steamy 35° C (95° F). Predictably, they had a problem with condensation running down the cooling lines used to cool their production equipment.

However, the Weld Cameras stayed completely dry and functioning properly despite the fact that they were covered in moisture. The water-resistant housing allowed the customer to gain the many advantages of XVC-O Weld Cameras, without putting the cameras at risk of damage in a high-humidity environment.

Conclusion

Welding in adverse environmental conditions such as high humidity does not mean that you can’t use a Weld Camera without subjecting it to harmful water exposure. Xiris’ XVC-O Weld Camera can safely and effectively operate in the most-humid environments in the world and has the experience to prove it! 

 

Image courtesy of Muffet, Creative Commons.

Topics: camera selection, weld camera, weld environment

Using Weld Cameras to Monitor Pipe Cladding

Posted by Lisa Colling on Friday, November 15, 2013 @ 10:10 AM

Thanks to new developments in electronics and sensor technology, fabricators can now use specially designed Weld Cameras to monitor the pipe or pressure-vessel cladding process with better clarity than ever before. 

The higher-quality images of these Weld Cameras can provide numerous productivity, quality, and health and safety benefits to fabricators—as Xiris’ president, Cameron Serles, will explain at Fabtech 2013 on Tuesday, Nov.19, 2013.

Serles and Rob Stewart of LJ Welding Automation will be discussing the use of Weld Cameras for pipe cladding as part of Fabtech’s “Inspecting and Troubleshooting Welded Tube” education session. Several images and video clips of challenging pipe cladding applications will be shown, highlighting features of interest in the welding process and how they were successfully monitored using Xiris’ advanced Weld Cameras, the Xiris XVC-O and XVC-S.

 

ID pipe cladding shown using Xiris Weld Camera with High Dynamic Range imaging.

XVC-O Image of TIG Pipe Cladding

 

While Weld Cameras are highly valuable in many applications, pipe cladding stands out as an application where a Weld Camera is essential. Often performed in difficult or hazardous working conditions, the cladding process benefits greatly from an operator being able to remotely monitor it using a Weld Camera. The environment of the cladding process is often complicated by:

  • Restricted operating sizes, such as small-diameter pipe or pressure vessels.
  • Elevated working temperatures that could reach as high as 700°F.
  • The need to not only see the definition of the welding arc, but also the detail, position, and quality of the weld bead that is generated during the cladding process, as well as its position relative to a previous clad layer.

However, Weld Cameras have traditionally produced poor-quality images that hampered their effectiveness. Fortunately, that technological limitation has been overcome with better technology so that the best Weld Cameras can now provide images with a degree of quality that enables operators to make in-process adjustments that enhance productivity and quality.

As to be discussed in a case study as part of the Fabtech presentation, LJ Automation has used both the XVC-O and XVC-S in creating a high-volume, heavy wall double-jointing pipe system for offshore riser pipe fabrication.

For the pulsed MIG root pass, LJ used the XVC-O Weld Camera, which features High Dynamic Range imaging. This technology allows operators to clearly see all the details of the weld scene, including both the extremely bright region of the open arc and the much-darker background region, without saturation.

 

LJ Automation system process shown in weld image captured by Xiris' XVC-O Weld Camera.

LJ System Seen Via XVC-O Weld Camera

 

For the Submerged Arc Weld fill, LJ used the XVC-S, a specially designed low-light Weld Camera that provides high-quality, color images of the dim environment of the SAW process.

LJ reports that its system tripled productivity on the case-study project, reducing cycle times from eight hours to less than three hours!

Conclusion

Weld Cameras with the latest technology can provide fabricators with numerous benefits in pipe cladding, including:

  • Greater visibility of the seam and other weld details.
  • Early detection of defects.
  • The capability for “on the fly” adjustments.
  • Increased arc “on-time.”
  • Faster weld head set-up.
  • Improved safety and health.
  • A video record for troubleshooting, training, and process improvement.  

Xiris is pleased to join LJ to discuss these benefits at Fabtech. If you’re attending, we hope you’ll attend the education session on Nov. 19 from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm in room S405B, as well as stop by the Xiris exhibit at booth #N2217.

If you’re not going to be at Fabtech, please call 905.331.6660 ext. 258 or email us at sales@xiris.com to set up a personal demonstration of a Xiris Weld Camera.

Topics: remote monitoring, weld camera, weld environment, Tube and Pipe welding

High Temperatures? No Problem for the XVC-O Weld Camera

Posted by Dean Zhao on Friday, November 08, 2013 @ 02:49 PM

Some specialized welding processes, such as Orbital Welding processes used at nuclear power generation facilities, are done in a high-temperature environment where the base metal is often preheated to over 260° C (500° F) to ensure proper welding occurs. To be able to properly monitor the process, a Weld Camera should be used, but it has to be able to operate in the high-temperature environment.

To make sure the Xiris XVC-O Weld Camera could operate under such conditions, we put it to the test in our laboratory.

We placed the XVC-O in a high-temperature cooling kit that included a thermal blanket and air cooling, and then we subjected it to a temperature of 278° C (532° F) for four hours in a heat chamber.

 

The Xiris Weld Camera with High Dynamic Range imaging is placed in a heat chamber for testing.

Cooking the XVC-O!

 

By applying cooling air into the cooling unit, we kept the interior of the XVC-O within a comfortable operating temperature of less than 40°C (104°F) through the entire four hours using only 0.275 m3/minute (roughly 9 CFM) of airflow —more air could have kept the camera even cooler.

 

The Xiris XVC-O stays cool in extreme heat using a cooling kit.

Our Cooling Kit kept the XVC-O at below 40° C.

 

The result of our experiment proves what we expected— that an XVC-O equipped with such a cooling kit will be able to function effectively over long periods of time, even in the excessively high temperatures of nuclear power generation facilities.

This is good news for the nuclear power industry because the harsh environment inside nuclear facilities calls for Weld Cameras to be used to monitor the welding process, so that operators can monitor welds from a safe, remote location, away from higher levels of radiation. 

If the weld camera has High Dynamic Range imaging capability (such as the XVC-O), operators can clearly view in real time the entire visual range of the weld scene, including both the super-bright arc and the much darker background. This enhanced weld visibility can facilitate substantial productivity and quality assurance improvements to the welding process.

The high-temperature testing we did in preparation for the XVC-O’s use in nuclear facilities is just one example of Xiris’s commitment to continually testing our products to ensure they work in the most extreme of welding conditions. You can also read our blog on how the XVC-O performed when we tested it in extreme cold.

Topics: remote monitoring, camera selection, weld camera, weld environment

XVC-O Weld Camera Proves It Works in Extreme Cold

Posted by Cameron Serles on Tuesday, September 17, 2013 @ 11:28 AM

Even with the most advanced image-processing and camera technology, a Weld Camera won’t be much help in monitoring welds if it can’t stand up to the harsh conditions that exist for automated and semi-automated welding processes in the field. That’s why the Xiris XVC-O Weld Camera is housed in an industrial-strength IP-rated enclosure.

But what about when the conditions get even more extreme, such as severe cold? Can a Weld Camera keep working outside even when it’s well below freezing?

Xiris recently had a practical reason to answer that question. We have a number of customers who will be using the XVC-O for orbital welding and pipe cladding applications in geographies such as the Bakken oil fields of the Dakotas and Montana in the US, as well as Saskatchewan and Alberta in western Canada. We’re releasing our latest electronics for the XVC-O this month, and we wanted to make sure they would function in the very cold winter conditions our customers will encounter. 

Last week we put the XVC-O to the test in our in-house environmental chamber at a temperature of -20 degrees C (-4 degrees F). This test was performed far below the 0 degrees C (32 degrees F) rating and standard test conditions for this equipment.

 

XVC-O Weld Camera is tested for its ability to operate in extreme cold.

The XVC-O Gets Put on Ice

The XVC-O got frosty! But it kept working.

We now know without a doubt that the XVC-O will be reliable in the winter on the Bakken oil fields, as well as in other places in the world where welding needs to be done in extreme cold temperatures.

 

The XVC-O Weld Camera shows frost after being exposed to temperatures below 0 F-but it still worked!

Covered in Frost But Still Working!

 

This type of testing is common at Xiris—we frequently use our test equipment to verify that our equipment will be able to withstand extreme temperatures and vibration and electrical interference. It’s all part of our commitment to providing our customers with a quality product and the weld inspection and monitoring tools they need to improve their welding processes.

Topics: weld camera, welding automation, weld environment

Using Cameras to Monitor Fillet Welds in Nuclear Facilities

Posted by Cameron Serles on Thursday, July 11, 2013 @ 03:10 PM

Welding is a commonplace activity at a nuclear facility to repair or build various structures, pressure vessels, tanks, boilers and other items. Because of the nature of the environment in a nuclear facility and the levels of radiation present, the weld technician is usually removed from the welding process to an isolated control room that is a reduced radiation area.

Weld Cameras can be very useful in the monitoring of fillet welds in nuclear facilities.From this control room, a continuous clear view of the welding process is mandatory for the weld technician to be able to monitor and control the welding process. Because of the high quality levels required in a nuclear environment,  remote weld monitoring that provides a clear view of the welding process in clear detail is absolutely essential. The level of visibility required can best be achieved with a Weld Camera equipped with High Dynamic Range imaging capability that can see the detail of the extremely bright open arc, as well as its dark surrounding background.

The materials that get welded in nuclear facilities can range from mild to hardened steels, stainless steel, copper, aluminum and some exotic metals. With the welding of such high-cost, specialized materials, tight monitoring and control over all welding parameters is vital. Some metals have unique weld environments (such as highly reflective parent material, excess spatter, variable speed pulsed power) where a Weld Camera equipped with High Dynamic Range imaging is the only way to produce a weld image with enough detail of the entire weld scene to be fully useful to the weld technician.

In the nuclear-facility weld environment—where the stakes are high and each weld pass may have unique weld parameters resulting in changes in the weld pool and arc—High Dynamic Range imaging enables the process and quality control that are imperative.

How Weld Cameras Are Used in Nuclear Facilities

In nuclear facilities, a weaving weld process—using a side-to-side weld torch stroke— is generally used to fill in a fillet weld, especially in the later passes where a wider bead is required to fill the joint.

To monitor the weaving weld process in a nuclear facility, two Weld Cameras are typically used—one camera in front of the weld and one in the rear of the weld.

The view of the weld from the front is used for continuous monitoring of:

  • The weld tip position for seam guidance.
  • The amount of cut into the sidewall of the parent material.
  • The feed wire stick-out.
  • The amount of spatter.
  • Arc stability (consistency of arc shape).

The view of the weld from the rear allows continuous monitoring of:

  • The solidification process of the molten weld material.
  • The finished bead, including its surface appearance.
  • Porosity of the finished bead.
  • Slag/dross.
  • Other impurities.

Weave welds are characterized by three things: the stroke length of the side to side motion of the weld torch, the speed of the side to side motion, and the travel speed of the weld torch along the seam.

The front Weld Camera is helpful to the weld technician in determining the stroke length and weave speed, identifying how much weld overlap occurs at a particular travel speed with the goal of obtaining optimum bead configuration. To properly see the weld weave, the field of view of the Weld Camera needs to encompass the full width of the weave as well as the sides of the parent material.

The rear Weld Camera allows an operator to monitor the effect of the weld puddle on the finished weld and verify that the desired weld effect (either smooth or rippled bead) occurs.

Conclusion

Given the critical, high-cost nature of welding in nuclear facilities, an investment in a Weld Camera with High Dynamic Range imaging capability can yield crucial benefits in quality control, productivity, and cost reduction.

 

Image courtesy of Paul J Everett, Creative Commons.

Topics: quality control, weld camera, weld environment, weld safety, High Dynamic Range

Attract Workers to Automated Welding with Modern Technology

Posted by Cameron Serles on Wednesday, June 19, 2013 @ 02:41 PM

Fabricators are finding it increasingly difficult to find qualified labor to operate their automated welding processes. As with many manufacturing jobs, unless employers go overseas, there’s a lack of skilled workers to fill the demand for operators.

This shortage persisted even during the high unemployment of the “Great Recession.” As manufacturers have continually taken criticism for moving jobs to other countries, the reality has been that it’s often a challenge to find people at home with the necessary capabilities and willingness to work in skilled manufacturing occupations.

The cause for the shortage is easy to understand: As Baby Boomers are retiring, young people are choosing not to enter manufacturing professions at all. In a February 2012 article in The Washington Post, reporter Peter Whoriskey succinctly summed up the root of the problem: “Many of the younger workers who might have taken [Baby Boomers’] place have avoided the manufacturing sector because of the volatility and stigma of factory work, as well as perceptions that U.S. manufacturing is a ‘dying industry.’”

Remote weld monitoring fees operators from the harsh weld environment.Even when compared to other manufacturing jobs, working in an automated welding operation can seem particularly unappealing. This perception is driven by awareness about the obvious health and safety risks—not to mention discomfort—of directly monitoring the automated welding process. It’s hot, noisy, dangerous work—all done while wearing bulky protective clothing and a cumbersome weld helmet.

Fortunately for fabricators, working conditions for operators can now be improved—without any negative impact on the bottom line. On the contrary, new automated welding technology that improves the work environment can also significantly boost productivity and lower costs.

A leading example is the use of Weld Cameras with High Dynamic Range imaging technology to allow operators to remotely monitor the welding process, without having to be exposed to hazardous fumes or working environments.  Such a camera overcomes the challenges of imaging the extreme brightness contrasts that occur during the welding process.

While Weld Cameras provide greater visibility into the weld process than possible with other types of monitoring, resulting in substantial efficiency and quality-control benefits, another significant benefit is that by using Weld Cameras, welding jobs can become a much more appealing prospect for new recruits to the field.

Better Working Conditions

With a Weld Camera, operators no longer need to be exposed directly to the short-term safety risks and long-term health hazards that are present when monitoring automated weld processes directly. Instead, they can work in a relatively safe, clean, comfortable, noise-free environment—remote from the welding process. When faced with a choice between working for a fabricator with cameras to remotely monitor welding systems and one that has none, the vast majority of operators will understandably opt for the company that is equipped with cameras.

Greater Employee Development

You will find a few veteran operators who actually don’t want to learn the skills necessary to monitor welds using Weld Cameras. But for most operators concerned about their career development—or for those considering being trained as an operator—the opportunity to learn how to use the latest automated welding technology is essential for personal growth. They will recognize the opportunity for a financially secure career working with advanced technology.

This is an important perceived contrast to a career working in a welding environment where there is limited use of advanced technology. Such an environment, for the most part, justifies the stigma of manufacturing jobs as arduous, undesirable work with little chance to learn skills that result in increased earning power.

Conclusion

As Weld Cameras with High Dynamic Range, such as the Xiris XVC-O, become pervasive in automated welding processes, the appeal of becoming an automated welding operator will likely also increase, and the industry could see new members of the workforce choose a career in welding. In the meantime, the ability to attract and retain the best operators currently available will be one of the many benefits that early adopters of Weld Camera technology will enjoy. 

Photo courtesy of NAVFAC, Creative Commons.

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Topics: remote monitoring, weld camera, weld environment, weld safety

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