Labor shortage created longer lead times

RAMA Fabrication and Interstate Treating are a leading fabricator and powerhouse in the west Texas region, fabricating equipment for mid-stream operations. With natural gas becoming a more accessible and a cheaper energy alternative, natural gas processing is on the rise. Needless to say, business is booming.

Together, this powerhouse company has the capability to take on complete turnkey ‘greenfield construction’ projects, for fabricating entire skids for natural gas processing, or fabricate individual pressure vessels. The company’s rapid growth created opportunities, but also challenges.

Outsourcing all the pipe cutting had a major impact on Interstate’s delivery cycle. According to Matthew Elrod, Manufacturing Supervisor of Interstate Treating, “Prior to incorporating HGG profile cutting machinery, we had to outsource all round-seam and long-seam cylinder cutting, which meant we were at the mercy of suppliers for entire shell sections that required subsequent fabrication steps, such as adding nozzles and base plates.”

Hard to find welders

Interstate had to employ older cutting techniques, which included hand-cutting nozzles with single bevels on pipes. The requirement for double bevels created obvious limitations. Also hiring the required craftsman formed a challenge for Interstate. Good welders, who could also do the manual cutting, were simply not easy to find and hire in Texas.

At a height in production activity, Interstate found itself in the situation where a number of projects were simply not on schedule. Labor shortage created longer lead times. When clients started asking why their fabricator was behind schedule, the company knew it was time for a change.

Beam cutting: from 500 to 24 hours for one skid

Several years back, when Interstate faced challenges in beam cutting for skids, they purchased an HGG RPC beam cutting machine. According to Elrod, “During the process of skid fabrication before, it might have taken us over 500 hours to cut beams for each skid. We now accomplish the same task of beam cutting for skids in as little as 24 hours.”

Elrod continues: “Plus, with the machine’s capability to easily load and then offload material to feed tables and its ability to cut 12-inch beam rapidly, we typically push out enough beam in one week to keep our welders busy for a month.”

It also had a huge impact on the quality of each skid produced. “It starts with having just one machine operator cut beams, while using our welders to do what welders know and do best, which means welding, not beam cutting,” Elrod adds.

‘With the machine’s capability to easily load and then offload material to feed tables and its ability to cut 12-inch beam rapidly, we typically push out enough beam in one week to keep our welders busy for a month’
Matthew Elrod – Manufactoring Supervisor at Interstate Treating Inc.

Fabrication glory: cutting an entire vessel in just one day

With this experience in mind, Interstate knew that HGG could help them out with their pipe cutting challenges. And they did, offering the SPC 3000 VHC profile cutting machine for cutting complete pressure vessels, specially created to cut precision beveled holes in vessel heads, shells, nozzles and reinforcement pads.

The SPC 3000 VHC has had a dramatic impact on vessel fabrication and cut quality. “With it, we’ve reduced modeling and layout times by over 80%, from 5 days to one day. Welders can now count on total accuracy with respect to hole location and sizing, as well as 100% beveling accuracy for both X and K axis beveling, axis cutting that welders could not even perform before by themselves. It’s also virtually eliminated scrap as well as other issues that result from the human factor. Welders can now expect perfect fit-up every time, with welding time cut in half.”

ProCAM software developed by HGG

Another advantage of the HGG machines, is the ease of the HGG ProCAM software. The program enables Interstate design engineers to simply convert offline files into readable files for the machine. And because the ProCAM software is so easy to learn and use, the operators have the option of making changes on-the-fly at the machine, as well as creating new parts right at the machine.

Interstate’s operators easily learned both machines. Elrod explained “In my opinion, HGG has the best service department of any company we ever purchased machines from. During the commissioning process, their people provided a high degree of assistance, making sure that every operator was extremely comfortable before they left.”

Since installation of the SPC 3000, Interstate has experienced a dramatic 20 to 25% increase in getting vessels produced and then out the door, from 5 or 6 days to cut each pressure vessel (with only a single bevel), to just one day with both X and K bevels. Interstate calculated that the machine paid for itself within the first 14 months.

Eliminated outsourcing needs

At the same time Interstate added the HGG SPC 3000 VHC to their equipment, the company also invested in a Davi Plate Roller, which turned Interstate into its own single source customer solution. Interstate now rolls all of its plates into cylinders. Today, Interstate is no longer dependent on suppliers when it comes to rolling and cutting of their material. The company eliminated 100% of the outsourcing needs for plate rolling, pipe and beam cutting and beveling for pressure vessels.

The fact that the equipment suppliers HGG and Davi recently entered a strategic partnership made the workflow between the machinery much easier.

Vessel cutting by SPC 3000 VHC

Vessels cut by SPC 3000 VHC at Interstate Treating Inc.

Related Articles