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ImageESAB Welding and Cutting Products has been selected by Aerisyn LLC to supply all the cutting, assembly, welding and material handling equipment for North America’s first automated wind tower production facility. Aerisyn, a Wisconsin based alternative energy company, is currently modifying an existing manufacturing plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The plant is expected to be in full production by August 2005. ESAB was instrumental in assisting with the plant layout and material flow design. This will be the first installation in North America of the ESAB automated assembly. This massive system includes head and tailstock clamping fixtures, with a powerful hydraulic fit-up jig.
In addition to the assembly line, Aerisyn will utilise several other ESAB systems, including two large cutting machines, positioning equipment and specialised welding manipulators, as well as sub-arc filler metals and a variety of hand-held welding and shop equipment. The key to making quality wind towers is the ability to produce dimensionally accurate parts, with extremely precise weld preparation bevelling on all sides. Two large ESAB cutting machines will handle the task. The Avenger 1 is a 14 foot (c. 4m) wide plasma contour bevel machine and the Avenger 3 is a 30 foot (c. 9m) wide model equipped with dual oxyfuel bevel heads, which will be put into service. The Avenger 1 allows high-speed plasma contour bevel cutting, accurate in thicknesses to 25mm. The Avenger 3 will handle thicker cuts and will be set up to cut two plates simultaneously. ESAB’s exclusive Columbus programming software and plate management system will control both machines.It is estimated that the plant will be able to produce up to 200 of the 200–300 foot (61–91m) tall towers in the first year of production.