Metelen Technology Centre, Germany
The Wheelabrator Technology Centre based in Metelen designs and manufactures both air and wheel blast solutions for customers all over the world.
“Customers demand proven, reliable technology that is easy to operate and is cost competitive. That is our focus at the Wheelabrator Group Technology Centre.” Gerhard Moers, Managing Director, Wheelabrator Group, Germany.
The most requested improvement opportunity in surface preparation is to reduce operating costs for an existing product line. This is normally achieved by reducing abrasive and energy consumption while extending the life of traditional wear parts, and implementing automation, and loading and unloading technologies. The German facility, formerly known as Schlick, devotes significant research to meet these challenges and others; and it is this research effort that has contributed to innovations such as the TITAN wheel.
The German facility’s engineering capabilities are second to none. Its preservation lines are able to blast 5m wide steel plates at only 6m per minute. So competent are the engineers and technologies available to customers that the facility has managed to completely dominate an entirely different market than its traditional customer base – the market for cleaning concrete and stone blocks – and is now commanding more than an 80% share of the available business.
Partner of Choice
The focus at the facility is primarily the automotive industry and it is the number one supplier for a whole range of high profile customers, including Daimler Benz, Volkswagen Group, Opel, BMW, Ford, PSA, Scania, Volvo, MAN, Getrag, INA, ZF, LuK and Benteler.
One major car manufacturer has more than 40 Wheelabrator machines in one plant in Kassel, located in the middle of Germany.
Wheelabrator machines in automotive plants are typically located in areas used for die-castings and the refurbishment of gearboxes. Hundreds of Wheelabrator shot peening machines have been shipped to China from Germany.
The facility also caters for the aluminium industry, serving clients such as Honsel Group, GF and Magna, with various versions of monorail machines for die-casting applications, multi tables, robot grippers and other solutions for engine blocks.
Additionally, the facility also serves the steel plate industries, providing high performance preservation lines for shipyards and various structural steel companies.
Popular technology offerings include in-line high performance lines for steel mills, plate blasting, tower segment blasting and painting, gear component blasting, special machines for blasting tower flanges for wind energy towers and combined automatic wheel and air blast solutions for rail coaches. Customers include CSSC, CSOC, Siemens, ThyssenKrupp, Alstom, ANF, Vestas, Enercon, Suzlon and Tisco.
A comprehensive display of blast technology applications are exhibited at the facility in Germany including cleaning, corrosion removal, descaling, coating removal, deburring, etching, polishing, peen forming, shot forming, and concrete finishing.
Wheelabrator Group’s 80 years of experience in airblast technology affects each stage of the customer engagement lifecycle, from determining each customer’s unique requirements, through the constructive development of the machine concept to final manufacture, assembly and installation.
New Market Opportunities
The facility’s blasting and painting applications that service traditional markets such as automotive, aerospace, shipyard and railway industries, are now also being utilised across a range of new market sectors such as medical technology, wind energy and silicon plate production.
Evolution in Indexing Turntable Machines
The last ten years has seen rapid advancement in indexing turntable machines for the blasting of heavy gear wheels. What began in 1998 as an indexing turntable machine with two swinging front doors capable of blasting a gear wheel of a maximum weight of 1.6 tonnes has now evolved to a completely new machine concept with one stationary turntable and a mobile cabin ceiling that enables the treatment of gear wheels with a maximum weight of 100 tonnes and a diameter of 3m, as well as shafts of up to 10 tonnes and of 4.5m long.
Unique Frame and Robot Gripper Machines
Innovations in frame and robot gripper machines have given rise to completely new machine concepts that are unique to Wheelabrator Group. Within the past five years, a total of seven frame machines for various components were developed for DaimlerChrysler as well as an additional machine for Benteler.
A similar concept has been developed in the aerospace industry for Embraer with a frame that can accommodate large workpieces up 4m wide and 2m high.