Sturdy Guidance for Accurate Measurements
EKD Systems supplies customised energy chains for KARL DEUTSCH ultrasonic testing systems
The ultrasonic testing systems from KARL DEUTSCH Prüf- und Messgerätebau GmbH + Co KG (KARL DEUTSCH Testing and Measuring Equipment Manufacturers) detect the smallest of welding defects generated during the manufacturing of steel pipes. The measuring equipment used to do this is extremely sensitive and must deliver accurate results despite the long travel distances and high speeds of the system. Each vibration can corrupt the measurement results and impair production quality. The HELUKABEL subsidiary EKD Systems supplied customised energy chains for this demanding application. Their high stability guarantees accurate measurements with fewer errors and reliable functionality over the entire lifetime.
One of the oldest methods for producing steel pipes is welding. Rolled steel sheets are formed into circular cross-sectional lengths whose ends are then joined together. Although other sheet metal forming processes exist these days for making seamless pipes, two thirds of the steel pipes manufactured in the world are still welded. The technologies for doing this have steadily evolved over the years. The High Frequency (HF) method, for example, has been around since the 1960s. This method uses particularly high-frequency currents which are particularly good at generating heat. Fast welding speeds and good efficiency are the distinguishing features of this method.
To guarantee the quality of the welded pipes, the weld seams are controlled during production by a non-destructive test procedure such as ultrasonic testing. Here, a test head sends sound waves through the material and record their reflections. The ultrasonic device creates an image which reveals the smallest of weld seam defects. The method is exceptionally precise, but equally sensitive.
Sensitive measurements at high speed
An expert in this specialist field is KARL DEUTSCH Prüf- und Messgerätebau GmbH + Co KG. The company with headquarters in Wuppertal, Germany has dedicated itself to the development and production of equipment for non-destructive testing of materials since it was founded in 1949. Its portfolio includes ultrasonic testing systems such as the Echograph SNHF which can be used to test HF-welded pipes for production faults. “Our machines must be able to carry out sensitive measurements, even over long travel distances at high speeds,” points out Holger Harmuth, Machine Tool Manufacturing Designer at KARL DEUTSCH. “A low-vibration environment is extremely important here to avoid distorted measurement results.”
The moving parts of the system are fitted with energy chains from EKD Systems.
The moving parts of the system are fitted with energy chains. These contain the cables which supply the individual components with power, data and control signals. The cable carriers protect the cables from getting tangled or trapped during operation or from becoming damaged as a result of abrasion and tensile loading. “Many off-the-shelf energy chains cause vibrations when they move which can corrupt the results of our measurements,” explains Harmuth. When KARL DEUTSCH started planning a new version of the Echograph series, they therefore commissioned the experts at EKD Systems, a HELUKABEL Group subsidiary, to supply bespoke energy chain systems for this sophisticated application.
Challenges such as these are nothing out of the ordinary for EKD Systems: The company has been specialising in the development and production of customised steel, stainless steel and plastic energy chains for more than 50 years. Their focus is on user-specific system solutions designed to customer requirements, in small to middle-sized quantities. For this, EKD Systems has a number of machining centres, its own tool and die making facilities, as well as a broad-based fully automated plastic injection moulder. “We have a vast array of diverse energy chain systems in our assortment which can be modularly adapted to the individual requirements of our customers,” explains Karsten Göbel from Technical Sales at EKD Systems.
The energy chains used in the KARL DEUTSCH ultrasonic testing system need to be particularly sturdy. The experts from EKD Systems therefore opted for the PLE plastic link energy chain. This is a plastic hybrid chain with rugged aluminium dividers and a multiple locking system in the joints to ensure high stability and safe guidance of the cables. The chains are also suitable for long travel distances and high travel speeds and therefore optimally support the dynamic performance of the testing system. EKD Systems has also fitted sliding elements into the inner radius of the chain in order to reduce the driving forces. The result is a version of the chain which guarantees smooth and precise transmission of forces and movements, and hence reliable measurement operations.
Bespoke carrier for tight installation spaces
The customised energy chain system facilitates accurate measurements and reliable functionality of the testing system.
A cable carrier optimised for installation in tight spaces was an additional requirement alongside extremely smooth operation. The testing system has a travel distance of 27 metres and a travel speed of 2 metres per second – and that in an very confined space. In order to make optimal use of this space, EKD Systems created a customised energy chain system which comprises a trough made to customer specifications and fitting perfectly into the existing design. The special construction of the chain uses dividers to facilitate a highly variable design of the inner space. This optimises the cable carrier and hence contributes to the reliable functionality of the testing system.
After setting up the machine at the KARL DEUTSCH factory, it was dismantled into its components in preparation for transport to the end customer. The cables were inserted in the energy chain from EKD Systems and then wound on to a special assembly drum included in the scope of delivery. “This facilitates fast and efficient on-site installation of the chain and hence saves a lot of time and money during the assembly of the system,” recalls Harmuth.
Exactly tailored to the application
Thanks to the cooperation with EKD Systems, KARL DEUTSCH received a customised pre-manufactured energy chain system exactly tailored to the specific requirements of this sophisticated application. “The rugged and low-oscillating energy chain facilitates the precise transmission of force and movement and hence accurate measurements with fewer errors and reliable functionality of the testing system over the entire lifetime,” praises Harmuth, who is completely satisfied with the partnership: “Together with the experts from EKD Systems we were able to build a first-class product which saves both us and the system operator considerable time and money.”
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