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Coil Processing
Wednesday | 06 July, 2016 | 1:07 pm

Plan for progress

By Gretchen Salois

Above: New stacker operator's station on cut-to-length line with rotary shear at Coilplus Columbus from Andritz Herr-Voss Stamco Inc.

Existing lines are updated to meet today’s demand

July 2016 - Customers expect quick turnaround. To ensure reliability, manufacturers find immense value in modernizing the electrical systems for existing coil processing lines. Taking a preemptive approach, rather than waiting until a production problem arises, can deter disaster.

Reliability began to falter on 19-year-old Stamco equipment used at Metals USA Inc. in Jeffersonville, Indiana, Plant Manager Don Geiser says. The company makes precision size blanks for customers in the HVAC, electrical cabinet and mining equipment manufacturing sectors. Metals USA stocks hot-rolled, pickled, cold-rolled and prepainted carbon steel, stainless steel and aluminum. It cuts material from 0.015 inch through 1⁄4 inch in tensile strengths up to 50,000 ksi.

The plant, located down the street from a port on the Ohio River, receives raw material by barge, truck and rail. “We process material on our multi-blanking lines as well as mechanical shears for different customer applications,” Geiser says. 

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Main operator's station with new drive cabinets at Coilplus Columbus.

Research led Metals USA to Andritz Herr-Voss Stamco Inc. (AHVS). “AHVS is well respected in the industry and has great engineers, mechanical and support staff,” Geiser says. “Our lines are also Stamco lines, which AHVS has supported since they acquired the company—they’ve always done what they said they can do in the time frame originally quoted.”

Planned upgrades, completed in March 2015, were scheduled to take 10 to 12 days to complete, “but only took seven days as their install team, as well as programmers on this job, were very in tune with some of the changes. I wanted to make [the lines] more automated,” recalls Geiser. The easy interaction during installation—coupled with what Geiser felt was AHVS’s service, understanding of equipment, especially regarding “operation of the leveling process”—played a big part in making the work worthwhile.

The line is more automated than before. “Instead of having to go through a sequence of hitting buttons to make the machine function, there are fewer steps needed, improving both productivity and safety,” Geiser says. AHVS also added a feature to Metals USA’s line that allows service center personnel to remotely log into equipment and monitor any issues.

Handling headaches 

Sometimes, customers come to Andritz Herr-Voss Stamco Inc. with a clear problem: they know what exactly needs to be fixed. Other customers require solutions but don’t know how to get to it. “Some [equipment users] don’t know they have an issue until it’s brought to their attention,” says Chris Mitrecic, director of coil processing services for AHVS. 

AHVS is part of Andritz Metals, a division of Andritz, a global supplier headquartered in Graz, Austria, and provider of plants, equipment and services for hydropower stations, the pulp and paper industry, metalworking and steel industries, and for solid/liquid separation in the municipal and industrial sectors. AHVS operates at more than 250 sites worldwide employing roughly 24,200 people.

Customers primarily come to AHVS because of “obsolescence. Unfortunately, ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ is a poor philosophy in this arena,” Mitrecic says. “A more precise train of thought might be ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’” Preventing a major malfunction on an aging line means saving extended downtime—a machine doesn’t always go down for simply a few hours, thus having a potentially devastating effect on the operator’s customers looking for that leveled material same day. 

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Drive panels at Metals USA’s processing facility in Jeffersonville, Indiana.

All about support

Another customer, Coilplus Inc., believes keeping on top of technology means updating equipment. Coilplus service centers supply a wide range of end users, including the automotive sector, appliance, HVAC, office furniture, construction, electrical and hardware.

“When the time came to upgrade the aging controls of one of our cut-to-length lines, AHVS was called to quote,” says Doug Detwiler, operations manager at Coilplus Berwick. 

Since the early 1990s, Herr-Voss Stamco’s field service teams provided Coilplus with support, service and training for its corrective levelers. “They also provided services through their precision roll shop in the grinding and manufacturing of all rolls as well as backup support for our precision levelers,” Detwiler says.

When AHVS opened its machinery services division, Coilplus called on it to retrofit foreign-built levelers at several of its facilities. “The results were very successful and improved the capabilities of an already quality machine, [resulting in] a superior performance.” According to Detwiler, AHVS performed a turnkey project on time and the machine restarted without issues. It was important that the upgrade be performed on schedule so as not to negatively affect finished material delivery, he adds.

Since the upgrade, operators have greater confidence in the line and its capabilities, which helps to create “a more productive and pleasant work environment,” says Detwiler. “By having the confidence in the new technology installed to control the line and the upgrade of the HMI controls for interface, training and operation of the machine is much better.”

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HMI touch screen on main operator's station at Metals USA in Jeffersonville.

Coilplus now has a better option for adding on additional functions for productivity and safety “if deemed needed in the future,” Detwiler continues. Upgrading the line allowed for more uptime and higher efficiency by providing customized control of how the equipment performs, he says.

To determine what needs to be done, Mitrecic says a site visit can be essential. “Over the years, upgrades and patchwork fixes don’t always get recorded,” he says. “When servicing other [machinery] brands, we have to inspect the equipment to see how we need to design and install the system.”

“Once awarded a contract, we assign a project engineer who coordinates the supplied equipment, our field service personnel and our engineers for installation and startup, [and] we help them prepare for the upgrade,” he continues. AHVS adheres to schedules and makes an effort to minimize line outage time. 

The type of upgrade needed varies as some are for machine-mounted devices and local control. “The more extensive upgrades include complete drive systems, new operator stations and upgrade of control system architecture to aid in making the line operate as efficiently as possible,” Mitrecic says. MM

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