Mark Caudle, shop foreman of W.E. Bowers, estimated saving at least $35,000 per year and 20–30 hours of labor per week by taking full advantage of the PypeServer software that came with one of its CNC pipe profilers. W.E. Bowers, a mechanical construction, service, and repair firm serving Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC, operates a 42,000-square-foot steel shop with six overhead cranes, CNC pipe profilers from both Watts and Vernon (each running PypeServer Enterprise), and 11 pipe turners and automated welding stations, each with a certified welder and a shared fitter.
Caudle, who has been with the company for about 12 years, starting as a journeyman welder on the shop floor and then as shop foreman, said, “Since we’ve been bringing in more automation and software, my responsibilities have shifted towards making sure our processes are as smooth and efficient as possible.”
More than 95 percent of W.E. Bowers’ work is done in Autodesk Fabrication CADmep, exported to a PCF file, then uploaded to PypeServer on either the Watts or Vernon machines. Until about a year ago, W.E. Bowers was using the PypeServer software that came with its 2019 Watts machine just to program the machine one part at a time. “This took someone about 20 hours a week and created the opportunity for lots of mistakes, so we decided to take fuller advantage of PypeServer’s importing abilities,” said Caudle. “Now we pull the PCF files straight into PypeServer and avoid all that machine programming labor.”
“You just set PypeServer up once with the O-let names to look for and the hole modifications you want for each size, and it handles it automatically from there on out. This can easily save me several hours of work per week and it saves our welders a lot of time too, especially for thread-o-lets.”
—Mark Caudle, Shop Foreman, W.E. Bowers
Seeing the benefits of importing, W.E. Bowers added PypeServer to its 2008 Vernon machine. In addition to importing, PypeServer added nesting and other new capabilities to the Vernon machine. Caudle noted, “It really gave that old machine a new life for a relatively small amount of money.” PypeServer Enterprise is compatible with pre-2020 Watts machines and most post-2008 Vernon MPM machines.
W.E. Bowers is among the first users of PypeServer’s new O-let lookup table functionality. The PCF file exported from Autodesk Fabrication CADmep includes all the nominal O-let diameters from W.E. Bowers’ database, but modifications are common. “We like to open up the holes about 2/10” to get a better joint,” said Caudle. “I used to have to edit the PCF file to change all those diameters before we could import the file. Some of our drawings would have over 100 O-lets, which made a lot of work for me and could easily lead to mistakes. If you have to re-cut a 42’ piece of pipe, those mistakes can be very expensive.”
Now, using PypeServer Enterprise’s O-let lookup tables, the software recognizes every occurrence of “Anvilet” in the PCF file and automatically adjusts the holes for each size O-let so they are cut to the exact diameter the welders want. The shop has standardized on Anvil brand O-lets, but the software can do the same thing with other brands, even if they are mixed in the same spool, Caudle explained. “You just set PypeServer up once with the O-let names to look for and the hole modifications you want for each size, and it handles it automatically from there on out. This can easily save me several hours of work per week and it saves our welders a lot of time too, especially for thread-o-lets,” said Caudle.
Caudle estimated that W.E. Bowers’ machine operators save at least 12 hours per week by importing the PCF files directly into PypeServer Enterprise. Based on that, he said, the company saves about $35,000 per year in labor for each machine. “Add on the time I save with PypeServer’s new O-let functionality and there’s tens of thousands of dollars more labor costs saved,” Caudle noted. There are also significant pipe savings from eliminating programming and cutting mistakes.
Estimate your own company’s potential labor and materials savings with PypeServer’s return-on-investment calculator: https://pypeserver.com/roi-calculator
Caudle also appreciated the technical support he got from PypeServer in setting up the new features, especially from Ken Barrack, PypeServer’s head of Customer Support. “I was pretty skeptical at first about the O-let lookup table features he was promising, but he quickly got me all set up and it did everything he promised,” said Caudle. “Ken also showed me how to add entries to the lookup tables, which I did on my own for a few odd O-let sizes I found after the initial setup.”
For more information, visit PypeServer.com.