Maintenance, Test & Measurement, Calibration

Tectra Automation teams up to produce WeldCore

October 2016 Maintenance, Test & Measurement, Calibration

Tectra Automation was recently contracted to supply Bosch Rexroth motors and control systems, essential in the production of the WeldCore technology, which is a result of a 15-year research relationship between Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) and Eskom. WeldCore is able to determine the lifespan, predict the maintenance requirements and hence prevent the failure of high-temperature steam pipes in refineries and power stations.

Ideal for older processing plants, WeldCore utilises a specialised sampling technique to provide information on whether a pipeline or other high value component needs replacement. WeldCore can defer downtime for unnecessary maintenance, predict end-of-life dates and can play a crucial role in the prevention of premature failure by identifying problems.

The process involves removing a cylindrical sample from the pipeline wall or part of the component primarily exposed to high pressure and temperature, this sample is used for advanced testing. The WeldCore machine then repairs the blind hole using a solid-state welding technique, friction tapered hydro pillar processing (FTHPP), which provides a repaired site with mechanical properties almost identical to the parent material. By analysing an actual sample of the pipeline or component, this method provides more accurate results than traditional non-destructive testing (NDT) methods such as dye-penetrant, X-Ray and magnetic particle inspection. In addition, friction welding takes only a minute while traditional weld repair can cost the plant hours of downtime.

(Left to right): Prof. Danie Hattingh (NMMU), Phillip Doubell (Eskom), Dr Ian Wedderburn (eNtsa) and Dr Phil Mjwara (Department of Science and Technology) at the showcase event.
(Left to right): Prof. Danie Hattingh (NMMU), Phillip Doubell (Eskom), Dr Ian Wedderburn (eNtsa) and Dr Phil Mjwara (Department of Science and Technology) at the showcase event.

WeldCore relies on a rotating spindle that can maintain its speed accurately despite a wide range of torques. To achieve this, it utilises a Bosch Rexroth MSK071E servomotor paired with a HCS03.1 drive to maintain speed throughout both the low speed coring and high speed welding processes.

Mobility is a key differentiator of WeldCore, and the Bosch Rexroth motor used is the only one that can deliver the power required while still being small enough to meet the portability specification. The Bosch Rexroth servo drive provides an automated system with a simplified interface that makes WeldCore easy to operate, and reduces human error and the likelihood of damage to the plant.

The project is a result of more than a decade’s research and testing at NMMU, involving students, engineers and local manufacturing companies. The final assembly, wiring and the software was completed internally by eNtsa, based at NMMU, resulting in an integrated machine that works predictably and reliably. WeldCore is available to the market through Mantacor, a branch of the NMMU.

A video of the process in action can be found at

For more information contact Georg Venter, Tectra Automation, +27 (0)11 971 9400,,

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