2-week overhaul sets 23-year-old air blast machine up for another decade


A trusted special-design air blast machine from Wheelabrator has been surface finishing printing machine components at Heidelberger Druckmaschinen in Brandenburg, Germany, for over 23 years. Back in 1994, the machine had been designed and tailored for the specific production requirements at this leading printing machine manufacturer.

Happy with the machine’s performance to date, Heidelberger Druckmaschinen got in touch with Wheelabrator to carry out a comprehensive overhaul to extend the machine’s operating life for at least another 10 years. The challenge: the upgrade had to be carried out in a narrow time window of only two weeks during the 2017 summer shutdown.

The Wheelabrator team prepared the upgrade meticulously during the 12 weeks between receiving the order and the summer shutdown window. 

Work carried out included: 

  • installation of new SIEMENS machine controls, SIEMENS Step 7 software and various interfaces
  • programming and software creation
  • a new operator panel
  • comprehensive rewiring of the machine and installation of a new electrical cabinet
  • new servo drives for manipulators
  • replacement of all wear parts including seals
  • repairs to the vertical axis
  • creation of a new circuit layout
  • creation of new documentation (including user manual, spare parts list, electrical parts list, trouble shooting manual)

In addition to these electrical, mechanical and software upgrades, the machine was also thoroughly cleaned to remove dust deposits, particularly inside the blast chamber.

Michael Velder, who oversaw the project at Wheelabrator, comments: “It is great to see our machines serving customers for such a long time – and even better to hear that they’re so happy with it, that they want to invest in it further. In cases like this one, where a highly-tailored machine sits in a tight spot within a complex factory layout, an upgrade can be incredibly beneficial, especially since installing a new machine would be highly disruptive. We can achieve a lot – even within a short summer shutdown window. Careful planning ensures that we used the time available efficiently, without hiccups or delays.”

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