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A powerful sub-process in the sense of a holistic thinking.

Innovative automation solutions for an energy-efficient processing of vitrified clay pipes.

The challenge in terms of sustainability:

Vitrified clay pipes feature outstanding characteristics for use in sewage systems. An energy-efficient process sets high requirements for the processing machine. But GÜDEL found a solution for optimisation in the following areas.

• Energy saving
• Splash and cooling water recycling
• Minimizing faulty production
• Productivity

The initial situation:

The described plant is a sub-process in the production of vitrified clay pipes, which are installed by large hydraulic pushers, specifically for use on sewer lines.

Vitrified clay fulfilled - thanks to its outstanding features - the sustainable requirements for an economic, ecological and safe sanitation. Extreme durability, absolute resistance to physical and chemical pollution, as well as durability are characteristics of this material.

To ensure that the individual pipes can be connected reliably without leaks, a precise machining of the pipe ends is necessary. Too great a deviation in the sewer base would cause puddles to form at the pipe connections. The result is then, a frequent and energy-intensive cleaning programme of the sewer system. The required precision (± 0.1 mm in the concentricity and 0.2 mm for planar parallelism) was achieved thanks GÜDEL's years of expertise in linear technology.

Main dimensions of the pipes:
Diameter 250 – 1400mm
Length 1000 – 2500mm
Weight to 2500kg

The actual «crux of the matter» is however not the fulfilling of the mechanical precision requirements. The project managers have more worries about calculation algorithms for the exact and efficient milling of the pipe ends. The vitrified clay pipes are affected by a certain out-of-roundness during manufacture. An exact round circle and coaxial milling needs to be made at both of the «plum-shaped» pipe ends, and in such a way that the pipes can be connected later without offset.

The solution:

Today the processing plant for the Steinzeug Abwassersysteme GmbH consists of two independent machines. One part is a gantry robot, which Güdel offers as a modular system in many variations. A total of 23 drive axes ensure the handling of the pipes, the adjustment of the feed table and the removal of the sawn off pipe pieces. The second part of the plant, the actual processing machine, includes 20 axes employed for the planar parallel sawing of the front faces and the milling of the pipe ends; also integrated are the measuring axes and the movement of the spray protection.

The sustainable strengths:

The size of the 43 drive motors ranges from the 2-kilowatt motor for the spray protection, up to the 45-kilowatt drive for the spindles. Three power supplies of 80 kW each operate in a way that at least one third of the energy is supplied by regenerated power.

The integrated spray and cooling water recycling unit reduces new water demand by more than 50 percent. This means that one of the major objectives has been reached in the terms of sustainability through the redesign of this sub-process.

The plant is about the size of a single story family house. Nevertheless, the whole system was assembled in GÜDEL and tested thoroughly with the technology put through its paces. In this way, the actual start-up process at the final location in Frechen was greatly reduced and long and costly test runs eliminated. It was immediately a resounding success.

In total, 30 different pipe types can be manufactured. For the large pipes (diameter greater than 1 meter), the output today is four pieces per hour; that used to be a day's output in the past. The plant operates with a net availability of 98 percent; practically no waste is produced – once the biggest cost in the energy balance of the production process. For an investment of this size, this is an excellent result.

The inventors (Head of Project):

Project management: Martin Knuchel, General Manager Technologies and
 Customer Care & Service, Güdel AG, Switzerland
Project team: BU Technologies, Güdel AG, Switzerland

Brief profile of the company:

Name: Güdel AG
Headquarters: Langenthal, Switzerland
Year established: 1954
Employees: 800
Solutions: GÜDEL AG is a supplier of turnkey solutions in the fields of factory automation, press automation, logistics, and renewable energies. The basis of the corporation is in engineering and in the production of linear and power transmission components. By integrating control systems technology, the gantry robots and complete system solutions can be tailored to the specific customer needs.
Internationality: Europe, North and South America, Asia and Australia
Austria, Benelux, Brazil, China, Czech Republic, France,  Germany, Great Britain/UK, India, Italy, Mexico, Poland,
South Korea, Spain, Switzerland (Headquarters), Taiwan,  Thailand,  USA,