In this video from ABB Robotics, LB Pipe & Coupling Products, a shop that does a lot of work for major oil service companies, is featured. Founded in 2010, their manufacturing processes have changed over the years, going from manual labor to automation. ABB Robotics and SVIA, which focuses on machine tending, partnered to provide two automation cells for LB Pipe. Each cell includes an Okuma 2SP-V60 vertical lathe. When the operator closes one section of a cell to work on it, the robot continues to service the other four spindles, which has increased LB Pipe’s capacity considerably.
Upgrades for Employees
Employees at LB Pipe have not been displaced, even with automation being added. They’re actually very happy about the automation cells because this means they can avoid the dangerous manual labor of loading and unloading the machine tools. Instead, now they’re running the cells. According the Jim Legg, LB Pipe’s General Manager, “when you look at robotics, it’s not about getting rid of employees. You’re making an employee smarter and more capable. He’s not just a guy who pushes a button now, he actually runs an automated piece of equipment.”
The robots have made it easier for the company to grow because it enables them to maintain fast production schedules in a safer environment. For customers, LB Pipe’s automation cells are an eye-opening experience. Instead of 6-12 guys running machines, they have 4 people running 12 machines. Customers like to see this kind of innovation. “It’s a difficult world today, so you have to adapt to everything that’s out there,” says Jim. “I think we do a good job with that.