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Turnkey Welding Productivity Solutions
TIME EQUALS MONEY

Kistler  

Cutting  

and  

Welding  

Techniques,  

a  

German  

family  

business  

that  

engineers  

and  

manufactures  

welding  

positioning  

and  

cutting  

systems,  

along  

with  

its  

South  

African  

distributor,

Mazuret, exhibited its offering earlier this year at the Clean Energy Africa conference in Cape Town. African Fusion talks to Alexander Kistler, the company’s CEO.

The  

Kistler  

Machine  

Company  

was  

founded  

back  

in  

1966  

by  

senior  

engineer  

Roland  

Kistler,  

the  

father  

of  

current  

CEO,  

Alexander:  

“My  

father,  

a  

mechanical

engineer,  

came  

up  

with  

an  

idea  

for  

a  

pipe  

rotator  

for  

welding  

pipe  

spools  

with  

elbows  

and  

flanges.  

His  

idea  

was  

to  

clamp  

the  

pipe  

and  

rotate  

the  

entire

pipe  

section  

so  

that  

the  

seam  

could  

be  

welded  

in  

the  

12:00  

o’clock  

position.  

This  

makes  

welding  

easier  

for  

the  

welder  

and  

significantly  

improves  

weld

quality  

and  

fabrication  

productivity,”  

begins  

Kistler.  

“For  

a  

refinery,  

for  

example,  

a  

lot  

of  

complicated  

pipework  

has  

to  

be  

fabricated  

with  

Y-junctions,  

elbows,  

bends  

and

flanges, and my father’s idea was to automate these welding tasks,” he adds.

Conventional  

wheeled  

rotators  

rely  

on  

four  

points  

of  

contact  

underneath  

the  

component.  

“But  

if  

an  

offset  

or  

eccentric  

weight  

is  

being  

rotated,  

then  

the  

component  

will  

slip  

on

these  

rollers  

as  

the  

weight  

begins  

to  

rise,  

making  

it  

impossible  

to  

complete  

a  

rotation  

safely  

at  

a  

controlled  

speed.  

My  

father  

designed  

a  

rotator  

with  

three  

wheels,  

two  

below

and  

a  

third  

clamping  

onto  

the  

top  

of  

the  

weldment.  

This  

enables  

an  

eccentric  

weight  

to  

be  

rotated  

360°,  

safely  

and  

under  

accurate  

speed  

control.  

This  

development  

enabled

the  

welding  

of  

complex  

components  

to  

be  

automated,  

because  

the  

system  

can  

compensate  

for  

offset  

loads  

and  

the  

drive  

torques  

can  

be  

continuously  

adjusted  

to  

achieve

constant travel speeds,” he explains.

From  

this  

initial  

idea,  

the  

company  

quickly  

began  

to  

add  

other  

positioners  

and  

rotators  

to  

meet  

the  

specific  

welding  

needs  

of  

fabricators.  

Today,  

Kistler  

supplies  

standard

equipment  

such  

as  

positioners,  

turning  

rolls  

and  

manipulators  

and  

designs  

and  

manufactures  

turnkey  

automation  

equipment  

according  

to  

customer’s  

specific  

fabrication  

needs.

Alexander  

Kistler  

took  

over  

from  

his  

father  

after  

finishing  

his  

studies  

as  

a  

mechanical  

engineer  

in  

1989.  

“Then  

in  

2000,  

our  

main  

competitor,  

Bode  

went  

bankrupt  

and  

we

purchased  

the  

intellectual  

property  

rights  

and  

the  

Bode  

name.  

This  

was  

a  

breakthrough  

for  

us,  

because  

it  

gave  

us  

access  

to  

a  

large  

portfolio  

of  

machines  

and  

a  

substantial  

global

customer  

base,”  

he  

says.  

“Today,  

we  

continue  

to  

manufacture  

Bode  

machines  

and  

we  

have  

retained  

the  

well-known  

Bode  

name.  

But  

the  

machines  

now  

come  

out  

of  

the  

Kistler

factory in Bad Saulgau in the South of Germany, 60 km north of Lake Constance on the Swiss border,” Kistler tells African Fusion.

Image-7  

Alexander  

Kistler  

first  

came  

to  

South  

Africa  

after  

Andrew  

Masuret  

of  

Mazolutions  

contacted  

the  

company  

in  

2008  

with  

a  

refurbishment  

application  

for  

Secunda.  

“We

engineered,  

manufactured  

and  

supplied  

a  

turnkey  

automation  

system  

for  

recladding  

conical  

ashlock  

vessels  

for  

the  

petrochemical  

industry  

in  

Secunda,”  

he  

relates.  

“These  

were

being  

done  

manually  

at  

that  

time,  

in  

unpleasant  

conditions.  

The  

vessels  

were  

preheated  

to  

120  

°C,  

with  

the  

welder  

having  

to  

work  

inside  

the  

cone.  

Using  

our  

rotating  

expertise,

we  

developed  

a  

fully  

automated  

system  

that  

significantly  

reduces  

the  

health  

risks.  

Welding  

is  

now  

being  

done  

using  

Lincoln’s  

twin-arc  

submerged-arc  

process.  

The  

rotator  

tilts  

the

conical  

vessel  

to  

enable  

welding  

in  

the  

12:00  

o’clock  

position  

across  

the  

tapered  

internal  

surface,  

and  

some  

clever  

automation  

changes  

the  

rotation  

speed  

so  

that  

the  

linear  

travel

speed remains constant for an even layer thickness and heat input,” he explains. “This is a direct spin-off application for the pipe rotator that my father first invented,” he adds.

Wind tower solutions

From  

2000,  

the  

wind  

energy  

industry  

in  

Europe  

became  

strong  

and  

this  

“has  

since  

become  

one  

of  

our  

key  

industries”.  

“The  

Bode  

portfolio  

of  

positioning  

equipment  

is

probably the most comprehensive of any manufacturer in the world and the range of machines extends to over 2 000 models,” Kistler continues.

For  

the  

fabrication  

of  

wind  

tower  

sections,  

Kistler  

supplies  

plate  

seamwelding  

systems,  

rotating  

equipment  

and  

the  

column  

and  

boom  

systems  

necessary  

for

submerged-arc  

welding  

of  

the  

cans  

and  

sections.  

“In  

addition,  

in  

2008,  

we  

acquired  

UP  

Helfert,  

a  

manufacturer  

of  

bespoke  

pipe-mill  

multi-head  

submerged-arc  

welding

equipment,  

which  

is  

ideal  

for  

the  

wind  

tower  

industry  

because  

of  

the  

very  

high  

welding  

speed  

requirements.  

Helvert’s  

four-wire  

welding  

heads  

can  

deposit  

up  

to  

45  

kg

of weld metal per hour, which is twice that of the competition,” he adds.

Image-1Citing  

SteelWind  

Nordenham  

and  

Ambau  

WindService  

as  

references,  

Kistler  

says  

that  

his  

company  

has  

considerable  

experience  

in  

systems  

for  

producing

onshore  

and  

offshore  

wind  

towers.  

Opening  

a  

PowerPoint  

presentation  

on  

wind  

tower  

fabrication,  

he  

says  

that  

the  

process  

begins  

with  

the  

cutting  

and  

joining  

of

plate.  

These  

plates  

are  

then  

rolled  

into  

‘can’  

sections  

ready  

for  

welding  

the  

longitudinal  

seams.  

“Traditionally,  

one  

column  

and  

boom  

is  

used  

to  

weld  

the  

external  

seam

from the top and the same system is used to complete the internal seam at ground level,” he says.

“But  

we  

separate  

the  

internal  

and  

external  

welding  

systems.  

We  

use  

a  

dedicated  

four-wire  

welding  

station  

with  

a  

walk-on  

platform  

for  

the  

external  

welding  

and  

a

separate  

four-wire  

boom  

system  

for  

internal  

welding.  

Our  

rotators  

also  

allow  

the  

tapered  

tower  

sections  

to  

be  

tilted  

to  

level  

the  

seams  

for  

welding  

in  

the  

flat  

position,”  

he

says.

A  

purpose-built  

flange  

welding  

station  

adds  

flanges  

to  

end  

sections  

before  

more  

shells  

are  

added.  

“We  

can  

offer  

several  

different  

methods  

of  

adding  

shells  

to  

a  

wind  

tower  

section.  

First,  

we  

can  

manually  

tack

weld  

a  

number  

of  

sections  

together  

to  

achieve  

the  

required  

section  

length.  

Then  

the  

whole  

section  

is  

moved  

to  

an  

internal  

circumferential  

seam  

welding  

system,  

which  

can  

again  

deposit  

up  

to  

four  

welding

wires  

simultaneously.  

From  

there,  

a  

platform  

system  

is  

used  

to  

complete  

the  

external  

seams.  

And  

it  

is  

possible  

to  

complete  

two  

circumferential  

seams  

–  

internal  

or  

external  

–  

at  

the  

same  

time,  

so  

we  

can

achieve an effective deposition rate of 80 kg per hour or more,” Kistler points out.

Using  

growing  

lines  

is  

a  

second  

possibility,  

with  

shells  

being  

added  

one  

by  

one  

before  

completing  

the  

circumferential  

seams.  

“And  

the  

third  

way  

is  

to  

use

hydraulic  

cylinders  

to  

position  

and  

clamp  

shells  

together.  

This  

allows  

the  

internal  

seams  

to  

be  

welded  

without  

the  

need  

for  

tacking.  

This  

is,  

by  

far,  

the

quickest way to assemble a wind tower,” he reveals.

Describing  

the  

requirements  

for  

offshore  

wind,  

he  

says  

that  

offshore  

turbines  

are  

generally  

supported  

by  

tripods,  

jackets  

or  

mono-piles.  

“Monopiles  

have

become  

much  

more  

popular  

in  

recent  

times  

because  

their  

fabrication  

is  

so  

much  

easier  

to  

automate.  

A  

typical  

monopile  

is  

a  

single  

welded  

construction

120 m long and weighing 900 t. Diameters range from 8.5 to 10 m and wall thicknesses can be up to 120 mm.”

Kistler  

sees  

offshore  

wind  

becoming  

more  

interesting  

to  

developers  

in  

South  

Africa  

as  

the  

wind  

tower  

industry  

matures.  

“We  

expect  

to  

see  

offshore  

wind  

towers  

being  

erected  

off  

the

coast  

of  

South  

Africa  

within  

the  

next  

decade,”  

he  

predicts.  

“Wind  

speeds  

are  

more  

consistent  

offshore,  

so  

the  

efficiency  

of  

a  

offshore  

wind  

farm  

can  

be  

higher.  

The  

evolution  

from

onshore to offshore occurred in Germany some 10 years back and we see a parallel evolution occurring in other countries of the world as confidence in the technology grows.

“We  

at  

Kistler  

are  

able  

to  

offer  

local  

manufacturers  

integrated  

and  

turnkey  

fabrication  

systems.  

We  

can  

design,  

supply,  

assemble,  

install  

and  

commission  

production  

facilities,  

and  

we

also offer training and ongoing support. We don’t simply sell machines, we sell productivity,” he concludes.

> NEWS by African Fusion | Aug 27, 2015
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