700,000 lbs. Vessel—Weld Fit-Up System

July 28, 2016

Welding Automation Systems

Suction Pile-Caisson Anchor on turning rolls

Weld Fit-Up System & Growing Line for Heavy Vessels

IRCO 700000lbs Weld Fit up System-Concept

IRCO recently delivered a custom-built fit-up system for welding 700,000 lbs. vessels. Our innovative design:

  1. Simplifies the fit-up process,
  2. Reduces the dependency on cranes &
  3. Improves worker safety.

IRCO’s system has increased production throughput, while freeing up crane time for other uses. This fit-up & growing line is being used in the fabrication of suction piles, sometimes called suction caisson anchors. However, the technology can be customized for any large vessel application.


What is a Suction Pile Anchor?

A (deep sea) suction pile is an anchor which is often used for offshore oil rigs or wind farms. The anchor(s) are extremely large thick walled vessels with one open end. They can weigh as much as two Boeing 747 Jumbo Jets and are similar in appearance to a giant steel “water bottle” with the bottom cut off. When deployed, the open end is placed on the ocean floor. The water inside the can is then removed, creating negative pressure & suction, “anchoring” the pile to the ocean floor.


Increases Throughput & Reduces Crane Time

IRCO’s custom designed bow-tie wheels provide support for the heavy cylinder and moves the vessel axially by rolling it forward. This makes space for the next segment to be placed into position for welding. The turning rolls are located on base platforms which ride on rails. These base platforms can be moved to accommodate different sizes of section and/or finished vessels. These features streamline the material handling process and reduce the need for crane time.

IRCO Automation-700,000lbs Weld Fit up System-Concept Feature Description_w3
IRCO 700,000 lbs. fit up system and turning rolls with vessel


Improves Worker Safety

Each base platform contains two set of bow-tie rolls and two sets of rotational rolls (one power roll and one idler roll). The rotation rolls safely turn the cylinder for circumferential welding. Each wheel is also capable of moving laterally in relation to the vessel. This allows operators to move the vessel to the left or right, or incrementally raise and lower each end of the can.

To elevate a section, an operator brings the wheels together. To lower the 130,000 lbs. sections, the operator moves the rotation wheels further apart. All three base platforms can operate in tandem, allowing the operator to lift the entire 700,000 lbs. vessel. Safer and faster, this design removes the need for “Dogs & Wedges” in the fit-up process.


Control 700,000 lbs. Vessels (with an iPad)

IRCO’s controls allow the operator to be in a remote and safe ergonomic position when aligning the sections of vessel. To shorten the learning curve, IRCO created an intuitive interface that can be controlled through an integrated PLC/HMI or through a mobile device like an iPad. The system includes redundant back-ups, simple controls and features virtual support monitoring.


Features: 700,000 lbs. Weld Fit-up & Growing Line System

  • Safely aligns sections of heavy steel cylinders weighing over 135,000 lbs.
  • Increases throughput & reduces material handling time and effort
  • Frees up crane time and lowers the overall crane capacity required
  • Improves worker safety and ergonomics
  • Intuitive controls provide an easy to learn/use interface for operators
  • Pre-programmable controls can be operated/monitored via a mobile device