Dillinger's Heavy Fabrication Division: precision and innovation on a gigantic scale
It takes great skill to keep on coming up with new steel grades and to fabricate them into made-to-measure heavy plates in an unparalleled variety of sizes and thicknesses. This is what makes Dillinger the world leader in terms of heavy steel plate quality and technology. This leading position is founded on its provision of integrated competence in steel under one roof. From steelmaking right through to ready-for-installation high-end products, research, development, steel and rolling mills as well as Dillinger's state-of-the-art plate fabrication facility all go hand in hand. Such a tightly geared value chain guarantees product solutions that precisely meet the challenging demands of the customer and – thanks to their outstanding efficiency, reliability and service-life – perform convincingly, even under extreme operating conditions. Dillinger's more than 330 years of accumulated competence and experience has long since earned the trust of leading companies in the energy branch as well as in the plant engineering and heavy machinery, pressure vessel and steel construction sectors. The fabrication facility at the Dillingen location with its capabilities for further processing of heavy plate offers these customers service à la carte. And whether the customer is after a complete package or a one-off service – if the demand is for "bigger", "heavier", "more precise", "more innovative" or "more efficient" than conventional solutions, the Heavy Fabrication Division represents a significant advantage of partnership with Europe's leading heavy steel plate manufacturer.
A business unit from the very start in one of the world's oldest integrated steel mills, the Heavy Fabrication Division has a unique range of experience. Since its foundation in 1685, Dillinger has constantly expanded its competence across the whole production chain, from steelmaking right through to further processing of heavy steel plate. Today, the Group boasts an annual production output of about two million tonnes of heavy plate in an unparalleled variety of thicknesses and sizes, and in unmatched metallurgical quality. No wonder, then, that this manufacturer is the preferred supplier worldwide for heavy-duty constructions in key industries. The Dillingen location's share in this output is about 1.4 million tonnes a year. Many of the plates manufactured there are also processed in the fabrication facility – some of them even directly as ready-to-install components with thicknesses of up to 430 millimetres.
Excellence in steel
As Dillinger's application-oriented spearhead, the Heavy Fabrication Division is a much sought-after partner for the development and realisation of solutions that already meet tomorrow's demands today. In close collaboration with the customer – and supported by the bundled metallurgical know-how of the steel mill – it consistently achieves excellence in plate fabrication. Its success in this field is founded on continuous further development of processes and production technologies, and also on investment into even more efficient capital equipment. Through its integrated approach to the customer's needs – covering everything from metallurgical concept and steel process route through to fabrication – it keeps on opening up new and often previously unimaginable possibilities. One example of this technological pioneering is Dillinger's response to a challenging customer request for over 210-millimetre-thick racks for the sort of jack-up rigs that are deployed in the offshore sector. Through systematic development, Dillinger succeeded in proving – with an attained thickness of 230 millimetres – not only that this challenge could indeed be met in terms of metallurgical factors, but also that this sophisticated product could be manufactured and fabricated in Dillingen to extremely narrow tolerances and with veritable surgical precision using thermal cutting.
The Heavy Fabrication Division's capacity to handle extremely large component dimensions and item weights and to provide innovative manufacturing processes as well as complex welded and formed parts makes it a reliable problem solver for particularly demanding requirements. Its support is just as sought after when limits of production capacity in the customer's supply chain are reached as it is in the development of new potential applications that the heavy plate customer's own capacities can not (yet) handle. Companies exclusively focused on installation operations benefit from the integrated fabrication facility at the steel mill, which offers them made-to-measure complete deliveries from a single source. Dillinger's Heavy Fabrication Division is also the partner of choice for customers dealing with extreme plate dimensions that they cannot further process with their own plant capacities. One of the inestimable advantages for them is the direct access to Dillinger's heavy plate production. Fabrication can then take place immediately without the transportation problems that such customers would otherwise inevitably have to deal with.
Dillinger's welding technology team is at hand for complex flame-cut parts as well as for custom preparation of weld edges. The fact that sophisticated steel grades with thicknesses of up to 430 millimetres and item weights of up to 45 tonnes can be fabricated in Dillingen shows that the facility here is definitely fit for the future. Even if weld preparation calls for flame-cutting or edge machining to an angular accuracy of 0.5 degrees and tolerances of ± 1 millimetre over the full length of a 25,000-millimetre-long plate – just-in-time supply of edge-processed and coded components ensures that Dillinger's Heavy Fabrication Division is a perfectly geared stage in the value chain of, for example, customers in the offshore wind industry.
Formed to perfection
One of the core pieces of equipment in Dillinger's forming technology is a four-roll plate bending machine which delivers a force of 86 MN for the forming of shell plates in a very wide range of dimensions. The machine is capable of cold forming shell sections up to 4,300 millimetres cylindrical length from a 250-millimetre-thick plate – dimensions that most other providers would have to resort to hot forming to achieve. The plate bending machine also excels when it comes to smaller diameters or high-strength steel grades. In the production of shaped and pressed parts, Dillinger sets standards with high-performance forming units, specially developed production technology and custom-built tools. Hot formed heads with wall thicknesses of up to 220 millimetres or diameters over four metres meet the highest demands for dimensional and geometrical accuracy and are therefore a showpiece discipline of Dillinger's Heavy Fabrication Division. Further impressive examples of its leading position are the hot formed quenched and tempered chords up to 130 millimetres thick and 4,550 millimetres long that are supplied in combination with metallurgically identical racks for the offshore industry.
In addition to its existing 100 to 400 ton machines, Schuler has now expanded its popular series to a press force of 800 tons
Huissel is well-known as a reliable die and sheet metal part supplier for the automotive and supplier industry. Now, the company wants to complete the die manufacturing process chain in Frankenthal and the related delivery of sophisticated sheet metal parts at the Enkenbach-Alsenborn site in its portfolio. According to the two managing directors Peter Busalt and Gerald Schug, these market potentials could not be achieved with the existing machinery. A system was needed that would permit economical manufacturing also of medium and high lot sizes while enabling easy operation. Huissel has now struck it rich with the MSP 800: the latest expansion of the newly developed servo press series of Schuler.
"We examined suppliers from Spain and Italy to Germany," says Peter Busalt. "But only the MSP series from Schuler currently has the functions we need." Gerald Schug adds, "The intuitive operability of the machine was important for us, for example, because this aspect helps even unexperienced employees quickly achieve good results and lowers inhibitions in regard to taking advantage of the full potential of the servo press."
Operators can select from predefined movement curves or program them freely. A fixed component of the control system is the Smart Assist software from Schuler, which performs the setup procedure for the dies step by step – a further positive point for Gerald Schug: "In this way, we can shorten the usual launch of production to a fraction of the time."
The commissioning of the new press is also considerably faster thanks to a digital twin. Here, the virtual system model is connected to the real control system with the machine and system visualization system. All functions of the MSP 800 can be simulated on the computer in this manner. The functionality and operation of the system can therefore be tested and trained on the future real machine.
For the MSP 800, Huissel will set up a new hall in its Enkenbach-Alsenborn factory. As a whole, this project is the largest single investment in the company's 100-year history. Huissel also intends to attach dies that it has manufactured in its Frankenthal factory 40 kilometers away to the new servo press. The tie rod structure of the MSP 800, which offers particularly high rigidity, also guarantees the quality of the parts production.
Schuler will present the MSP 400 – the "little sister" of the MSP 800 so to speak – to the general public at the EuroBLECH trade fair in Hanover for the first time, the press will also be commissioned at customers' sites soon. The smallest members of the family, the single-rod automatic blanking press CSP 100 and the double-rod automatic blanking press MSP 200, are already in use at stamping companies. What all these presses have in common is the innovative knuckle-joint drive with highly dynamic servo motors and additional smart functions, such as condition monitoring.
The new addition to the family will arrive soon: Schuler is developing the series further up to a press force of 1,250 tons.
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