Metallurgical industry plant and integrated systems provider SMS group recently received the final acceptance certificate from aluminium frames supplier Garner Aluminium Extrusions (Garnalex).
The certification was received for the complete extrusion line supplied by SMS group and its consortium partner OMAV S.p.A.
SMS group MD Pieter Bezuidenhout explains that the extrusion line consists of a billet heating system with a billet furnace and billet saw, and a HybrEx 35 front-loading direct extrusion press capable of extruding billets of up to 22 cm in diameter and up to 1 400 mm long. It also consists of a run-out system including an intensive profile cooling station; a profile stretcher; a finishing saw and an ageing furnace.
The installed HybrEx 35 produces aluminium and aluminium alloy profiles. The aluminium billets are loaded quickly and precisely into the centre of the press using a patented linear loader.
He adds that the HybrEx 35 front-loading direct extrusion press allows Garnalex to produce high-quality extrusions at competitive prices in a market facing the pressure of imported extrusions. Bezuidenhout also notes that the new HybrEx 35 front-loading direct extrusion press enables Garnalex to boost its productivity by up to 20%.
In addition to boosting productivity, the company continues to manufacture high-quality products for its customers in an environment-friendly and resource-efficient way, owing to significantly lower energy consumption levels.
“With the hybrid drive concept developed for the HybrEx 35 front-loading direct extrusion press, the hydraulics are only used to generate the required forming forces. The ancillary movements of the extrusion press are performed by dynamic, electric servo drives.”
Additionally, the HybrEx 35 front-loading direct extrusion press boasts a deflection-resistant, three-part triple-layer counter beam and patented precision guide for the container and moving crosshead. This then enables the production of high-precision profiles with extremely thin walls, he explains.
“It is a compact design possible thanks to the hydraulic system concept developed for the HybrEx 35 front-loading direct extrusion press. The entire hydraulic drive unit has been integrated into the machine's soundproof enclosure.”
Bezuidenhout explains that the enclosure design is not only state-of-the-art, but also takes into account all aspects of operational safety while also ensuring better machine accessibility.
Meanwhile, he notes that SMS group has established an integrated portfolio of products and services, that covers all aspects of professional extrusion plant operation.
The portfolio includes software packages PICOS, MIDIS+, and CADEX which form the solid foundation to establish a stable production process environment. This includes human-machine interface, die management, billet length optimisation, isothermal extrusion, shift reports (unplanned downtimes, alarms, productivity), data exchange between enterprise resource planning systems and production machines, and collection of quality assurance data.
Bezuidenhout explains that PICOS, MIDIS+ and CADEX are indispensable tools in numerous extrusion plants globally and that the core functionalities can easily be extended by customer-specific features.
Moreover, an operational extrusion plant produces a significant amount of data daily, he points out.
Collecting and storing this data is not the aim, but rather transforming it into useful information to support decision-making, Bezuidenhout explains.
“SMS-Metrics and Smart Alarm convert data into comprehensible visualisations, which enable complex production scenarios to be perceived with one glance. Drill down mechanisms allow the user to pursue the root cause of malfunctions. As SMS-Metrics and Smart Alarm are fully Internet-based, information and notifications can be received anytime, anywhere with Internet access without system-specific limitations.”
In addition to extrusion hardware and software, after the data is collected and transformed into usable information, engineers and specialists need to evaluate it.
“Based on the evaluation decisions have to be taken; decisions that influence the three pillars of successful operations: cost, quality, output. Here SMS group can assist its customers by providing extrusion technologists, engineers, and data analysts that help to implement reliable and fast decision-making strategies for our customers.”
Bezuidenhout adds that decisions then have to be implemented by optimising processes (production and/or maintenance) or maybe even changing components of the press itself.
He concludes that the company is convinced that the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and machine learning will contribute to the profitable operation of an extrusion plant.
“Therefore, we have formed a team consisting of mechanical engineers, technologists, process engineers, software developers, and data analysts eager to learn about new challenges from our customers.”