So you want to build a tank or hook up a pump that will be used to transfer liquids or gases in an industrial application. Your shop is equipped to fabricate the product, but your quote is tight and you have to find a way to lower labor costs while still following the building codes to reduce your liability.
The American Society of Manufacturing Engineers (ASME) publishes Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code (BPVC) B31 to help fabricators reduce risk and improve the safety of liquid and gas (steam) pressurized tanks and piping. But how do you reduce costs to make money on a tight bid?
Fabricators have two methods to consider for the labor-intensive operation of prepping all the pipe joints and plates for the required welding specification. They can use a conventional abrasive process or use an air/electric-powered handheld beveling tool.
The conventional abrasive process involves using a grinding wheel or segmented flap disc to bevel every plate or pipe section before welding. This consumable product is already in the job shop and used for many weld removal and finishing operations. This generic method of weld pre- and post-processing is appropriate for many applications, but it is not labor cost effective.
It is a fact that a 5 percent reduction in consumable tool costs will never result in more than a 10-minute reduction in labor. To elaborate, the shop burden rate or the cost to have an employee working is much greater than the cost of consumable product. It is commonly understood that saving $1.00 on a consumable is really no savings, but with a $60.00-per-hour burden rate for a small shop, a 10-minute savings in productivity often has a real savings in labor.
Typically, abrasives are the accepted process to bevel the edge of the material of the pipe or plate. This process is often assigned to the lower paid employee as it is extremely labor intensive due to the technique-specific process required for preparing these parts for welding. However, it actually requires a skilled technician who understands the complexity of the process.
The angle for each piece is specific to the thickness of the material and the thickness of the “face” must be equal for an even root weld to begin the joining process. So as it turns out, the labor cost is actually a major factor for the critical task of weld preparation for pipe and plate.
The handheld beveling tool is the better way to improve productivity and ensure repeatability and consistency in the weld preparation process. Large plate and pipe beveling tools have been around for some time – mainly designed to bevel large-diameter pipes that can be heavy to maneuver that also require some time to set up to obtain the desired result. They are great for the big projects, but what about the small-diameter pipe that hooks everything together?
As an experienced manufacturer of carbide tooling, Pferd Inc. has leveraged innovative design processes to develop its Edge Cut series of 1/4-in. shank burs. The burs have an integrated bearing in place to allow for a simple but cost-effective way of a repeatable process on radius plates as well as 2-in. to 4-in.-dia. Schedule 40 pipe.
The set up of the bearing allows the operator to maintain consistent pressure while receiving a consistent depth of cut and not removing too much material. This allows for best-fit joints with faster welding with less chance of weld area issues. In computers, it is often said “junk in, junk out.” Likewise, a consistent fit-up of parts helps for a better fabrication with less risk of having to rework the job.
The Edge Cut is a standalone product designed for use with the proper speed tool often found in a pipe job shop for regular burs and mounted points. All consumable products have a recommended speed range. This is not a maximum speed, however, noted for safety but instead is the best speed for the application and material.
The Edge Cut is also designed for ease of use unlike other similar handheld beveling burs that require a special dedicated tool. Beveling carbide “rings” require the extra investment of a tool that can only be used for beveling. The Edge Cut allows for professional results with existing tools or can be used with the optional front discharge air tool from Pferd. This tool is designed for use with the Edge Cut and has the flexibility for more control in flat and curved surfaces.
So what are the best applications for a handheld beveling tool? The list is long, and it includes beveling inside and outside of process pipe or plate to prepare for ASME code work, chamfering holes to accept raceways and heavy cable inside structures for the marine and aerospace industries, beveling head stock to accept new boiler tubes in steam generation manufacture and repair, and following ASME 1 (general construction methods for pressurized equipment), ASME 3 (nuclear construction general practices), ASME 4 (boiler construction), ASME 8 (pressure vessel construction) and ASME 12 (transport tank construction). The applications are endless.
Improving productivity by reducing labor cost is where the real savings are in manufacturing. Using a handheld beveling tool is much more cost effective than using conventional abrasive products.