U.S. Pipeline, of Houston, is responsible for the 241 miles of pipeline that stretch through Wyoming and Utah. The company has contracted with members of Pipeliners Local Union 798 to perform both the automated welding process that joins each length of pipe and the manual repair work that follows as each weld is tested.
Welding on the right-of-way involves battling wind, dirt, heat and cold. It also demands quality as codes and regulations pertaining to transmission pipeline welding are strict. The process of manual pipeline welding has typically involved a welder barking out instructions to a helper who manned a remote box tethered to the side of the pipeline and connected to the machine by a long cord. The remote box is nothing more than a dial that gives the helper a ballpark idea of the current welding output. It proves cumbersome to store and manipulate. It also presents a tripping hazard and one more point of wear that can break and result in downtime in the field.
Miller Electric Mfg. Co. introduced a wireless remote hand control to combat those factors, and Local 798 member Garry Allison was one of the first people to use it in a pipeline application. Allison — working repairs on the Ruby Pipeline Project — found a wireless hand remote solves each of those problems, and also improve the accuracy and quality of his welding.
In addition to the improvement in accuracy, there are three main benefits associated with eliminating the cord itself:
- Eliminating the entanglement of the remote cable makes setup and teardown easier, and reduces potential safety hazards on site.
- Eliminates cord failures, and the associated downtime and repair costs.
- Extends the welding range without adding costly cord extensions.