Heavy Metal: PC Control Guides Steel Forming

Haeusler AG, based in Duggingen, Switzerland, is a leader in the implementation of large-scale installations for forming metal plates. Haeusler is a specialist machine manufacturer which now employs around 120 people. Since its founding in 1936, the company has developed a wide variety of machines and production lines, including customer-specific designs, for processing sheet metal for use in applications such as wind turbine towers, pipelines, the Ariane rocket, shipbuilding and electrical enclosures. factories and reactors.

At the end of 2020, the machine builder delivered a giant 1,245-ton straightening machine to one of China’s largest shipyards. One of the largest of its kind in the world, the machine is used in the production of tanker hulls. After an 18 month design and construction period, the last RI 4000 X 87 straightening machine was delivered to the Chinese customer.

Proven machine expertise

The Haeusler RI machine series is equipped with five, seven, nine or 11 straightening rollers, depending on the technical specifications. This includes the latest and massive forming system, the RI 4000 X 87, which builds on the company’s 80 years of experience in the field.

Standing 12 meters high, with a dead weight of 1,245 tonnes and equipped with five large straightening rollers, this latest system can apply up to 19,000 tonnes of force in forming processes. It is capable of machining high tensile steel sheets 120mm thick, 4m wide and 12m long (yield strength 1000 N / mm2) weighing up to 45 tons. Haeusler officials said the ability to process these huge dimensions of metal plates offers significant advantages over traditional straightening solutions.

Machining this type of steel sheet simply cannot be compared to forming a typical sheet a few millimeters thick. Here it is more a question of regularly aligning the plates as a rule – which are sometimes slightly wavy after manufacture – for the following work steps. Another task is to homogenize the stresses appearing in the sheet through several cold rolling passes.

For these purposes, the RI series offers a number of features, such as special individual adjustment of the rollers for optimum straightening of thin and very thick sheets. Direct roller drive provides automatic speed compensation and built-in overload protection. For this need, Haeusler turned to Beckhoff PC-based control technology to ensure that the enormous forces required for precise forming of steel parts are guided in the right direction.

Intelligent machine control

Another feature of the RI series is its intelligent machine control system, according to Haeusler. Beckhoff control technology enables users to achieve optimum machining results in a short period of time. The modular components are distributed and networked with the high performance EtherCAT communication system, which can be ideally adapted to the particular requirements of the dresser.

“Beckhoff’s strength lies in the breadth of the portfolio and in particular the degree of openness of PC-based control and EtherCAT technology,” said Patrick Stadler, deputy director of the electrical department at Haeusler. “This means that if third-party components such as position measuring systems are required, they can be integrated without much effort.

“In addition, a second control computer has been installed in the plant for a downstream measurement application, which allows quality checks to be carried out after dressing,” continued Stadler. “Using the EL6695 EtherCAT bridge terminal, the two controllers can be connected to enable real-time data communication with minimal effort. We also use ADS to transfer process parameters between controllers via TCP / IP and to the HMI we developed ourselves, and we also like how open the interface is in this regard.

As another example, Stadler mentions a very precise laser used to measure the flatness of straightened steel plates: “The laser has an RS422 interface and could be easily integrated into the EL6021 serial interface and the corresponding TwinCAT library without project planning. meticulous.

“A complex hydraulic system is powered by an 8,000 liter oil tank, which transfers up to 3,500 liters of oil per minute,” he added. The hydraulic torque control of seven axes simultaneously has been implemented, with torques of up to 10 million Nm. The system is supplied with a power of up to 2,500 A (at full load), of which the the majority is used for hydraulics.

Stadler also sees another advantage in the TwinCAT OPC UA server (TS6100): “With this OPC UA interface, we offer the end customer the possibility of efficiently integrating the machine into the management of his workshop”, he said. .

Peter Reinstadler is regional sales manager for Beckhoff Switzerland.

This article appeared in Power and movement.

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