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Oilfield Technology: The Perfect Machining of Threads on Delivery Pipes and Casings

Geological discoveries have led to a massive increase in the estimated oil reserves in many countries. Along with these discoveries, the potential for the use of innovative technologies has also increased. Two examples are delivery pipes and casings. To create the connection safely and in perfect alignment depends on the threads on the pipe ends. With its USC turning machines, the specialists from EMAG Leipzig have not only created a tool that specializes in this application but also developed complete solutions that guarantee component quality and process integrity.

Economic key performance indicators for suppliers to the oil and natural gas industry change rapidly. An impressive example of this is found in the U.S. America hopes to reduce its dependence on oil imports and instead invest heavily in new technology. An indicator for the US is the import of equipment technology for the American oil and gas industry, which the Department of Commerce reports an increase of 33 percent in 2012 compared to the previous year. The experts also expect a production boom in South America and Asia. For Brazil, the foreign trade experts at Germany Trade and Invest (GTAI) predict a "high level of growth in new reserves". And on the other side of the globe, the investment volume in the oil and gas sector of Vietnam alone has reached $40 billion, according to GTAI.

The USC series of machines from EMAG are specially optimized for the thread cutting of delivery pipes and casings.



The experts at EMAG Leipzig are aware that this extraordinary dynamic has a direct impact on the production of the required technology. For decades, the machine builders at Leipzig have been specializing in the machining of delivery pipes and casings for the oil and gas industry. Many users can no longer do without their special know-how in demanding thread production.

"We are talking about a gigantic production output. One steel mill produces up to 2 million metric tons of pipes per year," says Frank Schiffler, Head of Sales. "Component quality is paramount for these because the pipe threads have to be totally leak-proof and must carry the enormous total weight of pipe and oil during the delivery. The machining centers used must ensure that the quality and efficiency of the threads produced is 100%."

The flexible loading of the workpieces is designed specifically for the customer and fully automated. The transport system does not need to be reset and adjusts itself to individual tasks and workpiece dimensions.





Flexible Solutions for the Production of Pipes

The USC series from EMAG Leipzig Maschinenfabrik represents an extraordinary, sophisticated solution for this particular production requirement. Flexibility is very important in the construction of these turning machines. Not only do the different machine sizes allow for the complete-machining of different sizes of pipes with external and internal threads to API and GOST standards, they can also cut all proprietary threads. "The larger oil field technology producers have their own thread standards. We can adjust our machines perfectly to their demands," explains Mr. Schiffler.

For instance, all workholding and centering equipment is configured to suit individual requirements. The same applies to all automation components. As a result, the customer has an extremely fast production solution that automatically loads and unloads the components in 12 to 20 seconds (depending on pipe size and thread type), then carries out the 3-part threading process -- from facing to chamfering and finally thread cutting. The output ratio therefore increases enormously, compared with that of traditional turning machines.

These machines handle an enormous amount of pipe material and are made to perfectly suit manufacturer's individual requirements. The threading process itself takes just 12 to 20 seconds.





However, there are two important factors that must be taken into account when machining threads on delivery pipes and casings: processing quality and process integrity. The quality is guaranteed by a perfectly adjusted machine, with proven EMAG technology and the know-how of the specialty machine builders from Leipzig come together. The whole process benefits from the following important design details:

"This quality is a feature of all our USC series machines," acknowledges Mr. Schiffler. "Depending on the machine used, the max pipe diameter can be any dimension from 2 3/8" to 20".

The two compound slides with 4-position table-type turrets of EMAG design accommodate a number of different tooling systems. The various quick-change toolholders hold tools for external and internal turning operations.





Complete Solutions Guarantee Process Integrity

When faced with high production rates, fast machining processes and expensive pipe blanks, machine downtimes are particularly costly for the manufacturer. For this very reason, the process integrity of these machines is another key development area in Leipzig.

"We design complete solutions for our customers, who -- in turn -- benefit from the quality of the EMAG components," explains Mr. Schiffler. "In addition to that, we integrate measuring stations, crack detection equipment, embossing and plating units and, of course, a monitoring system that covers all components. At the end, what we supply is a production system that guarantees the greatest possible degree of process integrity."

The USC series offers great rigidity, preloaded linear guideways and dampening clamping systems that together ensure the production of thread profiles as smooth as glass.





Projects from A to Z

How do the special machine manufacturers assess their market opportunities over the next few years? Mr. Schiffler's judgement on the market's dynamic is a positive one: "We already are the market leader in machines for the threading of oil and gas pipes; and we intend to further extend this position." Over 70 percent of the machine components are made and assembled at EMAG in Germany. Every customer comes to Leipzig for the machine acceptance, where the first test run, using the actual pipe blanks, is carried out. Only then will the machine be installed at the production site. "Our particular quality of service kicks in long before the machine is built, or the central claim made by EMAG Leipzig would not be a valid one. Our name stands for projects that are carried through to perfection from A to Z, and that represent all-round solutions."

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