Mbk is known in the industry as a global player whose developments are characterized by high productivity and reliability, flexibility, durability, and low maintenance and energy costs. When it came to implementing the planned modernization, Northern Concrete Pipe Inc., based in Bay City, Michigan, USA, with five production sites in Michigan and Ohio, was once again impressed with the company‘s innovative strength, customer orientation and convincing service orientation. This time, too, Northern Concrete Pipe Inc. relied on the competence of its long-standing partner mbk Maschinenbau GmbH. Thus, the Kisslegg-based company delivered a new fully automatic cage welding machine to Michigan for the production of reinforcement cages for concrete pipes in large quantities.
Since its founding in 1958, Northern Concrete Pipe Inc., has been producing frame profiles, catch containers, restraint systems, oil separators and other precast components in addition to concrete pipes and manholes. Two cage welding machines from the German company mbk Maschinenbau GmbH have already been used successfully for many years at the plant in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Focus on higher output
This contract focused on the customer‘s desire for the highest possible output and, above all, integrated automation in the cage production process. The goal was the fully automatic operation of the machine with the lowest possible personnel costs. An operator is only required to select the appropriate cage program and, if necessary, to retool the machine and to replenish the required raw material from time to time. The actual cage production is unmanned. After a detailed analysis of the actual situation as well as the visions of the future, a cage welding machine of the type BSM-190-O was chosen.
Equipped with 24 longitudinal wires, this machine can produce cages with optionally 6, 12 or 24 longitudinal wires with lengths of up to 2.5 m (8 ft) and diameters ranging from 330 mm (13“) to max. 1.90 m (74“). In addition to round cages, this machine also permits the production of cages for oval and arch-shaped products, which are intended to supplement the customer‘s product range at a later date.
The new version of the automatic longitudinal wire feeder type ALZ-M opens up new dimensions in terms of the realistic cage output per hour: The new feed system allows all longitudinal wires required for the cage to be fed in just one step, fully automatically, for all cage diameters that can be produced on the machine. This variant of the longitudinal wire feeder operates with pre-cut longitudinal wires from the magazine, which can be filled with up to one metric ton of material. Alternatively, a version with an integrated wire straightening and cutting machine is possible, which operates directly off the coil. However, the version with pre-cut bars allows significantly shorter retooling times than other wire diameters and was the preferred solution here.
Two motor-driven wire-winding reels for coils of up to 3 metric tonnes in weight, in combination with a double wire guide up to the welding point, allow either the stocking of two different wire diameters or, with identical wire diameters, the direct continuation of production if one of the coils is empty.
Alignment to minimum cycle times
A special challenge that had to be overcome was the fitting of the machine with all its accessories and automation into the spatial conditions: The machine itself is installed in a factory extension, but the downstream pipe production takes place in the main building. The cages are removed by an automatic cage handling device type KEG II and transported to the main building, where they are fed to the pipe making machine. In the medium term, a modernization of the pipe making machine is also planned in order to achieve a completely integrated automation of the production process.