Plasma Cutting And Gouging Process Used On Ruby Pipeline

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For the first time, Hypertherm Inc. says its Hypertherm Powermax plasma systems are helping to create better weld repairs and tie-in points on a natural gas pipeline. The plasma process was successfully used on the Ruby Pipeline, a 675-mile, 42 inch diameter pipeline under construction in the western United States. 
  “The Hypertherm plasma technology makes the industry much more efficient and works to eliminate hazards associated with the use of the old hand grinders,” said Sonny Weems, superintendent of Associated Pipe Line Contractors.
  Associated Pipe Line is using Hypertherm plasma is two different ways: to gouge out excess metal and to make cuts on individual sections of pipe during the tie-in process. In the past, pipe line builders needing to gouge out excess metal had to rely on hand grinding. The process was lengthy—typically taking at least 45 minutes for each small area—and dangerous if flying debris occurred.
  With plasma, the company says the work takes less than 15 minutes, and eye injuries from flying debris are eliminated, “Making the switch to Hypertherm and using plasma for gouging has reduced grinding from a major part of the weld repair process to a minor clean-up role,” said Kenny Glaze, a welder and Local 798 union member.
  In addition to speed and safety, plasma torches weigh less than hand grinders, so they are easier to handle and offer better visibility to the work area. This ease of use and visibility are critical since even the smallest mistake can result in having to remove and replace a complete section of pipe.
  Hypertherm plasma is also used to smooth out the ends of each individual piece of pipe, before the pipe is tied in to the line. In the past, Associated, like other pipeline construction companies, used oxyfuel. But because the resulting cut wasn’t as smooth or precise as plasma, secondary work was always needed. Now, using the plasma, the crew can immediately weld the pipe to the line.
  Hypertherm designs and manufactures advanced metal cutting systems for use in a variety of industries such as shipbuilding, manufacturing, and automotive repair. Its product line includes handheld and mechanized plasma and laser systems, consumables, as well as CNC motion and height controls and cutting software.