Full automation of strip welding machines in the steel industry for shorter cycle times and improved weld quality.

Strip welding machines

Eckelmann has automated the large-scale and continuously operating strip welding machine of a major plant engineering company. The strips are welded with modern CO2 lasers. The welding parameters to be adjusted automatically (laser power, weld gap, welding speed, etc.) are predefined by recipe management; additionally, they are freely parameterisable. The recipe management is operated via a central SQL database.

Three operating modes are available for the automation of strip welding machines: full automation, semi automation and manual operation. The precise strip centering (accuracy: 1mm) is supported by an optical measuring system which also evaluates the weld. Protruding strip edges resulting from strip width offset are removed with a notcher. During transport on the line, the strip is thus prevented from tilting.

Control & visualisation

Notcher: visualisation with InTouch
Notcher: visualisation with InTouch

A Siemens SIMATIC S7® with far more than 1,000 I/Os is used for the control of the plant, that is to say, for the control of all of its electrical drives, hydraulic axes and its pneumatics. The highly dynamic hydraulic axes are controlled by SIMATIC FM 458® modules.

The start-up and operating conditions of all components are permanently monitored, which allows for rapid error diagnoses. Follow-up alarms are automatically suppressed (message surge suppression).

The operator-friendly visualisation was implemented with the proven HMI software InTouch from Wonderware. Eckelmann, however, also uses SIMATIC WinCC® and other visualisation systems.

Communication & integration

Communication between line control, visualisation and other sub-systems is implemented via Ethernet and Profibus.

Process data are transmitted to the process control system where they can be used by, amongst others, quality management.

  • Automation of strip welding machines (electrical drives, hydraulics and pneumatics)
  • Database-supported recipe management
  • Quick and targeted error diagnosis due to message surge suppression
  • Clear HMI visualisation with InTouch® or SIMATIC WinCC® 

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Armin Seyffer