Celebrating 50 Years of Pipe Cutting Automation

Feb 18, 2015

50 years Vernon Tool


Following World War II, the pipe fabrication industry was faced with interesting opportunities and challenges, and Ward Blackburn, owner of Vernon Tool, realized there was an opportunity to introduce an emerging technology that would take the industry to new heights.


This technology was the Vernon Pipe Cutting Pantograph, which could accurately reproduce a cut profile on another pipe end. By advertising the pantograph with a gravity conveyor system and a straight cut-off carriage assembly as a system, customers were drawn to having a "one man pipe shop" of their own.


With this system, one man controlled all the loading, cutting, and unloading from a single operating control panel. This idea provided a way to eliminate cranes and forklifts and speed the time involved in loading and unloading large pipe. The machine made straight and beveled cuts to any length, as the free-rolling carriage was positioned anywhere along the length of the machine.


Over time, improvements to the pantograph included: a complete operating control console, two vertical torch arms with racks and pinions for raising and lowing the torches, a blow-hole eliminator, an out-of-round compensating device, the scale and pointer attachment, solenoid-operated gas valves, regulating valves, electric torch lighter, and a retractable stop. 


Vernon torch

Vernon Tool became a name to know and trust in the petroleum, construction, aircraft, and tank industries. Over the years, power, transportation, offshore, pressure vessel, process, and structural industries also adopted Vernon Tool machines—because the Vernon Tool centralized cutting procedures within a controlled environment were a great help to improve quality and reduce labor costs. 


After developing the outstanding pantograph features, Vernon Tool began manufacturing other pipe cutting solutions, including the Vernon Abrasive Saw (VAS).


Even though abrasive cutting was an established technology, the innovations developed by the Blackburns began satisfying higher quality and productivity standards. Vernon Tool machines added pipe rotation, precision hydraulic feeds, roller conveyors, and high-speed abrasive blades. These features were combined into a machine that can swiftly sever pipe in a single optimized material-flow operation with a single operator. Unsafe practices, such as operators balancing heavy work pieces and simultaneously operating overhead cranes and forklifts, were no longer a concern. The Vernon Abrasive Saw machine was safer, faster, and produced higher quality products.


As the pipe cutting industry expanded and automation became the norm, Vernon Tool saw these challenges as an opportunity to offer a customized solution for improving processes for the entire shop. This prompted the development and production of the MPM Pipe Cutting Machine, MasterPipe® Profiler, Master Tube Cutter, and the MasterPipe Mini Profiler




Over the past 50 years, through hundreds of custom installations, Vernon Tool has established a few fundamental principles to use when laying out any pipe shop:

  1. 1.     Organize the material flow so that it flows in one direction from raw material to finished pieces.

  2. 2.     Minimize material handling. Employ powered conveyors and automatic feed systems instead of overhead lifting devices. Pipe stands with casters or carts transport pipe efficiently after flanges and fitting have been fit up.

  3. 3.     Provide buffers between operations to accommodate different cycle times, production run interruptions, downstream bottlenecks, and scheduling changes. Pipe storage racks allow you to roll pipe into and out of the conveyor line to suit production efficiency.

  4. 4.     Centralize cutting operations for improved organization, cleanliness, and supervision. Distribute finished pipe by conveyors or carts, but allow overhead clearance for bridge or jib cranes with which to remove scrap and remnant pieces.

      5.    Analyze and re-analyze your operation. Compare cutting carriage speeds versus conveying speeds. It may be better to move the cutting carriage than to reposition the pipe between cuts. Check and adjust the variables for the optimal sequence: length of carriage travel, rapid traverse speed, lengths and types of finished pieces, and material handling time.
    ______________________________________________________________________________________MPM material flow

    MPM pipe flow


The solid quality, adaptability, and long-term commitment to customer satisfaction attracted The Lincoln Electric® Company to Vernon Tool. In 2007, the 120-year-old maker of welding equipment acquired Vernon Tool and later created Lincoln Electric Cutting Systems, investing in an all-new production facility in Reno, NV.


As Vernon Tool celebrates its 50th Anniversary of automated pipe cutting solutions, with over 850 installations worldwide, we remain committed to excellence and to the success of our customers. 

50 years


Celebrating 50 Years