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Contactless energy transfer system
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24th August 2012
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A Movitrans contactless energy transfer system from SEW-Eurodrive is making light work of heavy-weights at a German production facility.

There is not a sound to be heard except for the sizzling of the welding equipment being used to put a longitudinal welded joint into the 12-m-long steel tubes.

The production facility at Bergrohr, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of large diameter steel tubes, in Siegen is exceptionally quiet for a steel-processing company. This outstanding achievement is due to the firm’s internal logistics system.

Up to 30 000 kg of heavyweight tubes seem to effortlessly glide through the production halls with nothing more than a faint buzzing noise. This exceptional noise reduction is achieved by a rail-mounted, automated transportation system that uses contactless energy transfer and has been in operation at Bergrohr for around two years.

The company had originally wanted to switch its workshop logistics systems over to this type of rail-mounted system ten years ago. However, at the time, the necessary drive tech- nology was not yet available on the market. It was only when contactless energy transfer systems were developed around two years ago that Bergrohr was finally able to put its plans into action.

The Movitrans system from SEW-Eurodrive made the changeover possible and the long-awaited project was implemented in cooperation with Kleinknecht, based in Siegen, and Strothmann, which is based in SchlossHolte-Stukenbrok.

Yet another innovation from SEW-Eurodrive is being used in combination with the contact- less energy transfer system, namely the Movidrive inverter.

This unit controls the travel velocity of up to 30 m per minute, as well as acceleration and braking for the 40 compact transportation vehicles that convey up to 30 t of heavy steel tubes to the individual processing stations.

Movement and braking processes need to be fluent and harmonious at all times as some workpieces project several metres ahead, below or behind the vehicle. They are also sometimes processed directly on the transportation unit and must not, under any circumstances, tip over when brakes are fully applied. The Movidrive inverter provides an optimum solution for this delicate task.

But how is waste from the production of steel tubes, such as slag and cuttings, kept away from the rails, that is, the electrical conductors of the Movitrans system? Bergrohr procured a high-performance sweeping machine that thoroughly clears the hall floor at regular intervals.

Employees were also trained in how to use the new transportation system, and were instructed that they must not place any tools or similar objects on the tracks or cover the conductors during hot-wire welding or grinding work. The workforce quickly got used to the new technology once it had been implemented.

The innovative logistics system has run virtually without a hitch and boosted tube throughput by some 20%. Due to the many enquiries that have been received since the new technology was installed, the cooperation partners have already decided to offer this innovative transport system to other companies.

The Movitrans system is based on the principle of inductive energy transfer: energy is transferred without contact from a fixed conductor (for example a rail) to the vehicles. The electromagnetic connection takes place across an air gap and is not subject to wear, making it virtually maintenance-free. Contactless energy transfer does not produce dirt and is not sensitive to external contami- nation, moisture and temper-ature fluctuations.

“Up until two years ago, our special steel tubes were transported between workstations using roller tables, gantry cranes and transfer tables. This technology was relatively slow and proved insufficient when we wanted to expand our product range for our customers and process additional wall thicknesses and grades of steel. The cranes were no longer able to lift the heavier tubes. The Movitrans system gives us the freedom and flexibility in product development that our customers expect,” says Bergrohr technical director Dr Henning Grebe.

Hall 6 Stand J20


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