|SGGT Hydraulik’s new automatic descaler for steel blocks, a part of an automated, high-throughput railway wheel rolling line at Lucchini RS in Italy. |
There has been a European boomlet over the past several years of investments in new capacity to produce railway wheels, and one of those new lines was inaugurated in May at the Lucchini RS S. p. A. plant at Lovere, in Bergamo, Italy.
Lucchini is a Severstal subsidiary that produces steel specialty long products, forgings, and castings. The railway industry is among its target markets, and the Lovere plant is perhaps the region’s foremost producer of wheels and wheelsets for all types of railroad and tramway rolling stock. It offers more than 200 styles of railway wheels.
The new wheel rolling line represents a $115-million investment, the center of which is a mill built by SMS Meer that cuts and rolls the wheels in a continuous sequence. Its 100,000 wheels/year capacity raises the potential output at Lucchini RS to 240,000 wheels/year.
ELTI s.r.l. supplied a 23-m diameter, inline billet-heating furnace that processes up to 40 mt/hour. Preceding the wheel rolling process is a novel system for preparing the steel blocks that are the input material. SSGT Hydraulik developed and supplied a robotized handling and descaling system for the blocks.
SGGT Hydraulik GmbH is described as “a systems and service provider of descaling and water hydraulics technology.” Its installations supply water hydraulic pressure for presses and water hydraulic plants. In industrial production, it designs operations that deliver water at high-pressure in combination with high-feed rate machinery to remove scale from slabs, billets, hot strip — or forgings. It developed the new descaling operation for the Lovere plant, where SMS Meer was the project’s general contractor.
With a pressure of up to 320 bar, the SGGT Hydraulik machine descales up to 60 steel blocks per hour, which range from 300 to 600 mm (12 24 in.) in diameter and up to 1,000 mm (40 in.) long.
Following Lucchini’s objective to automate the production process as much as possible, the entire descaling process takes place without operator intervention. A robot places the blocks into the descaling unit. The face sides are descaled first, and then the robot positions the blocks upright on a turntable. To remove the scale from the block’s circumferential surfaces it is rotated through its longitudinal axis.
Doors close around the descaling action to minimize water loss. Adjustable spray headers arranged around the descaling chamber are set according to the diameter of each block, maintaining an optimal spraying distance.
SGGT Hydraulik’s design uses ceramic nozzle check valves that close securely to keep water from dripping during the time between descaling processes.
In addition to the descaling unit, the scope of supply included the accumulator, all electrical controls, and the visualization system.
SGGT Hydraulik delivered the equipment last June, and it started operating to supply descaled blocks to Lucchini’s existing rolling line in September 2009; descaled blocks were transported by a conveyor belt to that line. It has been in operation as a fully automatic sequence with the new wheel rolling line since February.