Vertical Tank Welding System – Thin Walled Tanks

September 15, 2016

Welding Automation Systems

IRCO’s automated vertical tank welding system for thin walled tanks is a unique design which simultaneously welds the inside and outside of storage tanks, reducing finished weld times from hours to minutes. The IRCO system:

  • deploys repeatable and consistent – certified quality welds,
  • removes costly over-welding/burn-through errors,
  • increases safety by taking welders off of elevated scaffolding and outside of the cylinder,
  • decreases labour man hours (set-up and actual welding time),
  • provides a 300% increase in overall production throughput.


Automated Vertical Tank Welding System Component

IRCO vertical tank welding system for thin-wall tanks_weldingThe system, including all the process controls; cameras and laser seam tracking, are managed through a fully integrated operator station with HMI and industrial touch screen. The IRCO design consists of three main components:

  1. Turntable – Capable of supporting different sized tanks, up to 35,000 lbs & 25’ in diameter
  2. Collapsible Weld Manipulator – Inside Weld
  3. Column & Boom Weld Manipulator – Outside Weld


Turntable – Rotates the Tacked Sections of the Thin Walled Tank

The Turntable supports the tacked sections of the cylindrical tank in the vertical position. The adjustable guides ensure that the flexible cylinder is placed in a round and symmetrical orientation. For the vertical seam welds, the Turntable manouvers into position and the servo-controlled weld manipulators use seam tracking to perform the vertical welds.

On the circumferential welds, the rotation and process specified speed are pre-programmed through the HMI. When the weld heads are positioned and the laser seam tracking engaged, the operator initiates the Turntable and welding process. The Turntable rotates at the defined rate of travel while both weld manipulators complete the finished weld.
IRCO vertical tank welding system for thin-wall tanks_turntable-weld-manipulator

Collapsible Weld Manipulator – Inside Weld

The Collapsible Weld Manipulator is a servo-controlled scissor design postioned within the center of the Turntable. It features two independently controlled weld heads, one for vertical seam welds and one for circumferential welds.

During loading, the weld manipulator collapses to a safe position below the Turntable deck; ensuring the sensitive components are protected. When the section of tank is aligned correctly on the Turntable, the weld manipulator is raised to its pre-programmed height. The operator precisely places the wire in the center of the joint (or wherever the weld procedure specifies) using the high definition camera. For vertical welds, the Turntable remains stationary and the weld manipulator raises and lowers while performing the weld. For internal circumferential welds, the tank rotates while the manipulator uses laser seam tracking to accurately follow the weld joint.

IRCO vertical tank welding system for thin-wall tanks_Inside Collapsible Manipulator

Column & Boom Weld Manipulator – Outside Weld

The Column & Boom Weld Manipulator is a servo-contolled manipulator positioned on the outside of the Turntable. It contains two separate weld heads (circumferential and vertical welds), a high definition camera and laser seam tracking.

The Manipulator raises and lowers to perform the vertical seam welds. The outside circumferential weld is done while the Turntable rotates the sections of tank. Both the inside and outside weld are performed at the same time, allowing the entire process to be finished in a single rotation of the tank.

IRCO vertical tank welding system for thin-wall tanks_outside weld close-up
IRCO vertical tank welding system for thin-wall tanks_turntable-weld-manipulator with a welded tank


Weld System and Application

This specific system was designed to manufacture thin walled oilfield BBL tanks, up to 1000 BBL (1000 barrel tank) in size, and welds to the API 650 code requirements. The customer chose (and IRCO integrated) the Miller Auto-Axcess™ industrial MIG power supply, utilizing Miller’s Accu-Pulse technology.

IRCO’s vertical tank welding system can be customized for multiple applications, weld procedures or power sources.