TPT July 2024


Automatic tube mill commissioned for the growing solar industry


25-28 September Tube China 2024 Shanghai, China 15-17 October FABTECH Orlando, Florida, USA 22-25 October EuroBlech Hanover, Germany 27-29 November Tube India Mumbai, India 3-5 December ValveWorld Expo Düsseldorf, Germany 2025 13-16 January SteelFab Sharjah, UAE 11-14 March Global Industrie Lyon, France 20-24 April MACH 2024 Birmingham, UK

LOCK Joint Tube has chosen Fives to supply a completely automatic tube mill to expand its capacity and meet the growing demand for renewable energy. Lock Joint Tube, a leading US steel tube manufacturer, is doubling production at its plant in Texas to provide solar tubes to key customers who are investing in the solar energy sector. Fives supplied a new OTO tube mill, equipped with the latest-generation technology

Automatic tube mill at Lock Joint Tube

both octagonal and square shapes. The automation is deeply integrated with the mechanics to achieve advanced and cost-effective results. “Automation was our top priority because we wanted to increase safety, reduce heavy work and speed up production. With the new OTO tube mill, we are doubling our original capacity with a single operator on the line. These exceptional results were only possible because of Fives’ advanced technologies and our successful cooperation,” said Mark Richner, Temple plant manager at Lock Joint Tube. Increased productivity is ensured by Robopack, a fully automated packaging system developed by Fives. The system at Lock Joint Tube consists of a complex configuration, where three robots work synchronised to handle special tube lengths up to 15m. It offers greater flexibility and quality standards while providing consistent and safe operation. “The Robopack with three robotic arms is one of the main innovations of this project. Its modular design makes it possible to easily adapt the packaging solution to production needs. For short tube lengths, one or two robots can be on standby, which reduces energy consumption,” adds Roberto Chiminelli, application engineering manager at Fives OTO, a subsidiary of the Fives Group, which specialises in tube mill technology.

that ensures the best performance for a wide range of applications. The global expansion of renewable energy is expected to increase by more than 440 gigawatts over the past 12 months – the largest increase in history, according to the International Energy Agency. Solar energy accounts for two-thirds of the projected increase in global renewable energy capacity. “Prior to the installation of the new tube mill, we could only produce small tubes for mechanical and structural applications. We saw a soaring demand from our customers supplying support structures for solar trackers and invested in new technology. The OTO tube mill is fully automated from the entry line to packaging and flexible enough to produce tubes for all types of applications: solar, mechanical, or structural,” said Michael Donnelly, corporate project manager at Lock Joint Tube. The tube mill doubled the production capacity up to 4,000 tons per month. It was fully operational in spring 2023 and has produced 3,000 tubes per day in

6-9 May Lamiera Milan, Italy 6-8 May Made In Steel Milan, Italy

Fives – Steel & Glass Division

The automated packing system

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