With the U.S. military budget in a growth mode, it’s understandable that shipbuilders for the U.S. Navy are optimistic about the future. One such shipbuilder, Ingalls Shipbuilding, has been optimistic since 2014, when it began an extensive Shipyard of the Future initiative at the company’s Pascagoula, MS, location.

Now in its fifth year, the initiative requires significant investments in modern infrastructure, manufacturing equipment and technologically advanced processes. Thus far, the investments have expanded the manufacturer’s level of automation, enhanced production quality and improved work flow.

One area where Ingalls has expanded and updated its automation is panel welding. In 2015, the company contracted with Pemamek Ltd. to build and install a large-scale PEMA automated welding system designed specifically for this purpose.

Pemamek finished the state-of-the-art turnkey system after two years of close collaboration and careful planning with Ingalls engineers. The
system includes dual flat-plate joining stations that utilize robotic welding, and have the capability for integrated milling and welding.

Both stations combine laser-hybrid arc welding with tandem metal active gas welding. The joint technologies enable Ingalls to accurately weld plates up to 60 feet long and as thin as 4 millimeters from one side. Equally important, integrated milling provides precise seam preparation and efficient welding for the entire length of each plate.

Ingalls likes that the PEMA system joins plates at a high volume, with minimum deformations. The system is also available with full digital machine control for one- or two-sided welding.

Another advanced feature of the station is fully automated robotized welding that performs panel stiffening. Multiple robots are involved, all of which use the PEMA WeldControl 200 controller. The unit’s software enables complete communication between materials, machinery and the operator—while providing him with realistic welding models and full oversight of all shop floor operations.

The programmable controller ensures robot utilization of greater than 90 percent and precise production regardless of manufacturer size. It also lets end-users integrate all power systems to a single system and program all basic functions at start-up to limit the risk of human error.

Pemamek offers four WeldControl models (100, 200, 300 and 500), all of which feature a one-touch control panel. Shipbuilders of various sizes prefer the Model 200 because it allows for quick and easy programming of welding robots.

Several shipbuilders also use Pemamek’s modular PEMA T-Beam system to weld T-beams of different sizes. The standard version features a heavy table with automated tack and normal welding capabilities.

Pemamek trained all of Ingalls operators and continues to provide them with ongoing technical and production support services. The Loimaa, Finland-based supplier has designed, built and installed many automated welding and production systems since 1970, as well as workpiece handling equipment for heavy and thick materials.

Ingalls was founded in 1938 and now has more than 12,000 employees, making it the largest private employer in Mississippi. In 2011, the company became a subsidiary of Huntington Ingalls Industries, America’s largest military shipbuilder. Huntington Ingalls also provides professional services to partners in government and industry.

For more information on automated welding systems, call 358-10-501-61 or visit www.pemamek.com.