Pipe fabrication enters the digital age
In today’s age of connected devices and the Internet of Things (IoT), customers demand digital precision from their equipment and tools. In response, manufacturers are developing smarter and more automated connected solutions.
Within the pipe fabrication industry, the IoT has massive potential and the machine tool industry is at a pivotal point where automation controls and feature-rich computer systems are merging to create a whole new generation of manufacturing equipment.
For contractors and engineers, the biggest challenge is to find a reliable shop that can guarantee that their grooved pipe is up to the specifications required. Roll grooving machines currently on the market require the tool to be manually adjusted, and, following completion of the groove, require manual measurement of the pipe — leaving an opening for inaccuracy.
IoT-enabled products, including Victaulic’s RG5200i, automate these processes, modernizing and simplifying pipe grooving while ensuring accuracy in the grooving process and reliability in the finished piping system operation. With data from these tools in hand, the operator doesn’t have to measure things like the circumference of the pipe and the groove by hand. For any dimensions out of spec, these tools will display what adjustments are needed.
The IoT and cutting-edge technology are converging to make pipe fabricators more efficient and competitive. Using integrated sensors and instrumentation roll groovers puts real-time quality-control data in the hands of machine shops, enabling them to guarantee the consistency and integrity of the grooved pipe when it leaves the shop.
But another important aspect of any IoT product is its post-sale support services. Every provider of a product or service understands the critical role of post-sale support, but what’s less well understood is how dramatically the nature of that support has shifted when it comes to the IoT. For example, Victaulic provides support 24 hours a day through the installation of cameras and computer connections monitored by engineers who have control and easy access to each client’s system for remote support. This facilitates upgrades and the process of adding on new features as they become available to these IoT-enabled products.
Another benefit of the usage of smart tools relates to insurance companies. IoT-based analytics can be used to predict future events, for example, such as major weather patterns. This can help insurance companies better price policies and prepare customers for upcoming incidents, which should help reduce damages.
Additionally, home insurance companies are incentivizing customers to install connected devices that warn of potential danger to properties, auto insurers are offering clients the opportunity to potentially lower their premiums by allowing the insurance company to monitor their driving habits, and property insurance companies are increasingly using drones to assess damages after an incident has occurred.
In our industry, when contractors can demonstrate to insurance companies that they work with manufacturers that have these smart technologies at hand, which lowers risks and provides pipes free of defects time and time again, the cost of premiums should drop considerably.
This trend toward automation and connected machines will certainly continue and become more prominent as manufacturers recognize and respond to industry demand for such products. As consumer products get smarter, we can also expect the devices we use on the job to be smarter. Industry demand is certainly a driver of this trend, but so is the evolution and cost of the technology embedded in the products.
Smart tools will continue to be used to create improved work environments, measure success and efficiency and simplify communication so users can get the most out of every technological asset and investment in the industry. The timing makes efficiency, productivity and competitiveness more imperative than ever.
In this new era, contractors and engineers should demand more from their suppliers in terms of digital technologies that help them ensure the quality and consistency of their finished products. Companies that remain hesitant to integrate new technologies into their systems and processes to meet the needs of today’s customers will find it difficult to stay competitive, while those who can stay ahead of the curve will thrive.
To learn more about Victaulic and the technology behind the RG5200i, visit bit.ly/RG5200i.