Afrox has developed a forward-looking gas delivery solution for TIG welders working at heights on high-integrity pipework. African Fusion talks to the development team: Arnold Meyer, Roberto Dionisio, and Johann Pieterse.

The Afrox, 360° Integrated Customer Application Solutions programme is an internally developed approach to doing business. “It always starts with a complex customer challenge followed by a partnership with the customer to develop a joint solution,” says Johann Pieterse, business manager for manufacturing industries.

“Once we have a good understanding of the challenges our customers face, the next step is to create an effective solution that will result in increased productivity, lower production cost and improved quality – and this all hinges on maintaining a safe working environment,” he continues.

Afrox MUPP 360 Tig Welding at heightWorking at heights is one such customer challenge, as contractors are faced with multiple safety risks and challenges. Particularly when welding, not only does the welder have to deal with having to produce the highest integrity welds while tethered to a safety harness hundreds of metres in the air, he or she is also required to bring up welding equipment and cylinders of shielding gas before the work can begin.

In order to soften the difficulties encountered, Afrox has used its 360° solutions’ ethos to develop a reliable and convenient solution for the delivery of argon shielding gas to TIG welders working at height, coupled with a range of portable high-end welding machines that make quality welds easier to achieve.

At the starting point of this solution is Afrox’s patent-pending multi-user pressure panel (MUPP), an innovative design that removes the need for shielding gas cylinders to be lifted to the welding level. “The MUPP enables separate argon torches to be supplied to multiple TIG welders working on the plant’s piping. And the panel is not a manifold. Through this pressurised user panel, each welder draws a constant pressure and flow, regardless of how many welders are working,” explains Johan Pieterse.

“This completely eliminates the need to transport and lift bulky, heavy cylinders and cylinder packs onto elevated platforms, which results in a much safer working environment with improved quality and productivity and reduced operational costs.” he adds.

Describing how the system works, Arnold (Arri) Meyer says that the MUPP is connected to a gas supply on the ground via a stainless steel braided hose. “The MUPP is connected to a bulk gas supply at ground level, which can be a manifolded cylinder pack (MCP), which, for argon, consists of a pack of 15 200 bar cylinders; a portable cryogenic container on a skid (PCC); or a permanently installed cryogenic bulk supply, depending on the welding requirements and the construction duration,” Meyer tells African Fusion.

From the ground supply, the gas is regulated down to a pressure of 10 bar and fed through a reinforced braided stainless steel hose to the MUPP at the welding level. The lower pressure and flow rate into the MUPP means that the pressure losses are relatively low – less than 0.5% – so the MUPP is at nearly the same pressure.

At the heart of Afrox’s 360° integrated TIG-welding solution for welding at heights is new multi-user pressure panel (MUPP), which enables up to eight TIG welders to work independently without the need for gas cylinders at the welding level.

The MUPP also contains a gas reservoir, which ensures that the volume needed to feed eight welders simultaneously is available at any time, so when everyone starts welding at the same time, or if someone’s gas line is accidentally cut, the gas flow to welders remains steady and uninterrupted.

“Each line has its own low-pressure regulator with a settable flowmeter that regulates the gas to the required flowrate, typically 10 to 15 ℓ/min. Each welder therefore receives exactly the gas he or she needs as if it was being delivered from a cylinder,” says Meyer. “What we currently see on any construction site where pipework is being welded are individual cylinders standing on platforms at the welding level – and the boiler houses are as high as 130 m. So every MUPP we put into these sites immediately reduces the number cylinders that have to be taken up to the top of the construction by eight. In addition, no empty’s have to be taken down or replaced,” continues Pieterse.

Key features of Afrox’s MUPP supply solution include:

  • The system contains a pressurised reservoir for stable flow and surge control.

  • Eight control valves allow individual shut off capability.

  • Individual flow control is available via eight separate flow regulators.

  • Variable length stainless steel braided supply hose can be supplied de- pending on the height requirements of individual projects.

  • On the supply side, a single supply regulator and gauge can be used.

  • The system is safe, with pressure relief valve protection.Portable stands are available if required.

Also in the final stages of development is a new all-in-one regulator and flow meter that o ers precisely settable gas flow settings from a single dial. “This is an extension of our SmoothFlo innova- tion, which was developed here in South Africa,” says R&D manager, Roberto Dionisio. Read more…

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