PypeServer Customer Profile: Mark Caudle of W.E. Bowers

Learn how PypeServer’s advanced O-let tables automate hole modifications for individual O-lets saving time for welders.

“Our machine operators save at least 12 hours per week by importing the PCF files directly into PypeServer Enterprise. Based on that, I figure we’re saving about $35,000 per year in labor for each machine.  Add on time saved with the new O-let functionality, and there’s tens of thousands more in labor costs saved.”


Q&A interview: Mark Caudle, Shop Foreman at W.E. Bowers.

PypeServer Enterprise’s new O-let lookup table feature helps W.E. Bowers eliminate the pain of using O-lets.

What kind of work does W.E. Bowers do?

W.E. Bowers is a mechanical construction, service, and repair firm serving Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC. Our clients include general contractors, high-tech firms, hospitals, institutions, government agencies, and property management companies.

Bowers’ steel shop is a 42,000 sq. ft. facility 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.

What’s your role at W.E. Bowers and what’s your background?

I’ve been with the company for about 12 years, starting as a journeyman welder on the shop floor and then as shop foreman. 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.

What’s your typical workflow look like and what software tools do you use, from design through production?

Over 95% of our work is done in Autodesk Fabrication CADmep, though we’re starting to look at Revit and MSUITE. We export from CADmep to a PCF file and then bring it in to PypeServer on either the Watts or Vernon.

Until about a year ago we were using PypeServer, which came with our 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. Now we pull the PCF files straight into PypeServer and avoid all that machine programming labor.

Once we saw the benefits of importing, we added PypeServer to our 2008 Vernon machine. In addition to importing, PypeServer added nesting and all sorts of new capabilities the Vernon didn’t have before. It really gave that old machine a new life for a relatively small amount of money.

[Editor’s note: PypeServer Enterprise is compatible with pre-2020 Watts machines and most post-2007 Vernon MPM machines.]

You’re one of the first users of PypeServer’s new O-let lookup table functionality. How’s that working for you?

The PCF file that’s exported from Autodesk Fabrication CADmep includes all the nominal O-let diameters from our database, but we like to open up the holes about two tenths of an inch to get a better joint.

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-foot 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’re cut to the exact diameter the welders want. Our shop has standardized on Anvil brand O-lets but the software can do the same thing with Bonney Forge and other brands, even if they’re mixed in the same spool. 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.

How has your workflow changed with PypeServer Enterprise and what savings in time, labor, and materials have you seen?

Our machine operators save at least 12 hours per week by importing the PCF files directly into PypeServer Enterprise. Based on that, I figure we’re saving 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.

Finally, there’s the significant pipe savings from eliminating programming and cutting mistakes.

Do you have anything else you’d like to say?

We’ve received great support from PypeServer, especially from Ken Barrack. 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. 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.

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