Equipment upgrade at Still: one TITAN fits all

Published

Material handling equipment made by Still is known around the globe for its high quality and reliability. To ensure their products never cease to meet highest standards, continuous improvement of production processes is second nature to everyone at Still. Equipment modernisation programmes (EMPs) have proven to be an effective and sustainable option for keeping existing machines in step with evolving production requirements.

Company Profile

For a long time STILL has been one of the leading suppliers of forklift trucks, platform trucks and tractors plus the latest Intralogistics systems. With more than 8,000 employees, 4 production plants, 14 branches in Germany, 17 subsidiary companies abroad, plus a dealer network consisting of 246 dealers wordwide, STILL is successfully active on an international scale.

Défis

Wilfried Gast, in charge of maintenance at Still’s facility in Hamburg, Germany, and looking back on 38 years with the company, has just used EMPs to upgrade all three on-site blast machines to the latest technology – with remarkable results.

Wilfried Gast: “Our three blast machines are from two different manufacturers and of varying age. They blast sheet metal and profile as well as smaller parts in three-shift operation. Over the years, performance across all three machines has dropped. They were no longer up to scratch when it came to ease of maintenance, and wear on parts – even on casings – has increased dramatically. Strategically, it seemed sensible to look at equipping them all with the same blast wheels, to streamline parts management and simplify maintenance.”

Solution

At the beginning of the modernisation programme, planned to be implemented over two years, a decision had to be made about the right blast wheel model.

Following a product demonstration and detailed cost-benefit calculations, the team went for TITAN 15.3 blast wheels from Wheelabrator. Subsequently, all 14 existing blast wheels were replaced with TITAN wheels.

Less wear thanks to tempered tool steel, faster and easier maintenance, as well as increased reliability of all three machines would improve uptime markedly. Standardising the blast wheel would also, according to Wilfried Gast’s plan, vastly improve spare parts management (and storage!) and allow his team to carry out smaller repairs in-house.

Andreas Harpers, product expert for wheelblast technology at Wheelabrator Plus, explains: “Together with the team at Still, we analysed weaknesses and problems of the existing equipment. Some of the issues we discovered were quite severe: vibrations from the blast wheels had already caused cracks to form along the walls of the blast chamber of the youngest machine.

The challenge then was to find exactly the right blast wheel model, one that would run smoothly and achieve the best blast results across all three machines. But it was also important not to lose sight of overall equipment performance, which is why we adjusted abrasive feeds on the machines as part of the upgrade.”

Résultat

Advantage of the upgrade in brief:
  • Wear drastically reduced
  • Less maintenance needed
  • Machine downtime reduced significantly
  • Improved process control
  • Parts inventory reduced and streamlined
  • Energy consumption reduced

The plan worked out perfectly, as a short example will show: the first machine to be upgraded, in 2012, was a Gutmann DB 11, built in 1994. Since 2012 it has been running with four TITAN blast wheels, which have proven to be pleasantly low-maintenance. Wilfried Gast: “Before the upgrade, we used to allow for three sets of wheel blades per blast wheel per year. With the new blast wheels, we have changed the blades once so far. Impellers and liners are still going strong after two years, where previously we used to use two sets of impellers and a set of liners per year. All of this adds up to significantly improved uptimes – especially when taking into account that we’ve increased production by 20%. The machines are now running three shifts per day, five days per week, and have never been more reliable and consistent.”

Spare parts can now be shared between the three machines, minimizing the parts inventory and simplifying maintenance. Energy efficient drives (type IE2) have reduced overall power consumption. Wolfgang Krause, Key Account Manager Technical Sales at Wheelabrator Plus, pays Still a visit every six months, to carry out maintenance and service work, and maintains an ongoing dialogue with Wilfried Gast’s team. Together they ensure that – despite 20% increase in production and reduced maintenance – blast operations at Still run smoothly, reliably, consistently and with maximum process control, and completely without having had to buy new machines.