Industry 4.0 in the implementation of surface treatment technology

Date: 02/11/2021
Author: Sponsored
Categories: Success stories

Meeting the demanding requirements from end-users is always very challenging, especially when it comes to the automotive and manufacturing industries for companies such as Volvo, Class, or Caterpillar. ITS, which supplies technological units for surface treatments, always prepares intensively for every project of this kind. It was no different in the case of the implementation of an exceptional project in eastern Slovakia, with many innovative elements in accordance to the Industry 4.0 concept.

Virtual simulation technology

The requirements of the Industry 4.0 concept are very demanding, and it is not easy to automate a complete line with many innovative details. One of the problems was, for example, the capacity and the speed of the line. Classic methods of capacity calculation in a spreadsheet editor or 2D layout cannot provide complete information on whether the line throughput at the required capacity is feasible. Therefore, for each project, we use a precise virtual simulation of the entire technology in order to fine-tune all the details before the actual implementation.

The capacity of the line was a challenge

The required parameters for a takt-time of 3 min/bar for the full coating process and a takt-time of 90 sec./bar for the powder coating section only were a real challenge. The surface treatment line was designed as a combined system with a 20 stages immersion pre-treatment process based on Zn phosphating, followed by E-Coat system for the application of the primer. The line features a fully automatic transfer from the immersion section of the line (pre-treatment and E-Coat) to the Power&Free conveyor then directs the pieces to the drying oven. This conveyor forms a large buffer where bars which run in parallel with immersion section of the installation are divided from the bars moving towards the powder coating section. Here, it is possible to achieve a takt-time of up to 90 sec./bar. The SAMES KREMLIN quick colour change powder application booth is completely automated and it is connected to the SAP ERP system of the company for automatic uploading of the powder coating recipes, as well as to other equipment of the coating system.

AGV vehicle included

The supply of powder to the powder centre is provided by an AGV vehicle, which picks up the powder coating boxes from the warehouse without the aid of an operator and at the same time accurately weighs it. The weight of the consumed powder is accurately recorded in the system and saved into the production order for further calculation of painting efficiency.

New unique technology for measuring the paint layer thickness before curing

Behind the powder coating booth there is another innovative part of the entire technology. A completely new and unique system of non-contact robotic measurement of the thickness of the coating layer immediately after application, the HiVision DeepControl. Two robots equipped with a measuring gauge not only accurately measure the thickness of the coating with an accuracy of +/- 5 µm, but also store all the parameters for each product in a database. Automatic correction of the spraying system in case of below/above-limit values is also absolutely essential. Measurements and spray adjustment takes place during the full operation of the paint shop. This interactive system ensures a significant reduction in the consumption of powder coatings of about a 10%, it reduces scrap and thus significantly helps meet delivery deadlines. Financial savings can be up to several million euros per year, depending on the size of the operation.

Ecological solution

All technologies are strictly designed according to BREF guidelines, which prescribe the use of the best-known technologies/principles (BAT) with regard to the ecology of the operation.

Both the E-Coat system and the powder spraying booth are followed by conventional gas heating ovens, one for drying the E-Coat layer and the other for curing the powder coating layer. Both ovens are equipped with ecological units with direct heating and low-emission gas burners. Wastewater from the pre-treatment stage is disposed of fully automatically. Output parameters meeting the demanding discharge limits are recorded continuously, is a matter of course.

The P&F conveyor system allows precise control of each loading bars

The Power & Free conveyor system is an important element of the entire line and ensures the transport of products weighing up to 400 kg/bar at a speed of max. 3 m/min. It is equipped with automatic switches, loading stations for hanging the pieces and an automatic bar transfer system. It allows the transport of products with a size of up to 800 x 1400 x 2500 mm.

The HiVision control system is the heart of the technology

The complete recipe and work queue is loaded from the company's ERP system into an SQL database, which is used to exchange data with the coating line. In the same way, the technical data including, for example, the measured thickness of the powder coating layer, is entered into a database for use in the ERP. It is not a simple communication system but a Big Data handling system. Access to the control of the line is not only local but also remotely via the cloud interface from any PS or mobile device.

Accessories and peripherals such as a neutralization station, air handling unit, boiler room, demineralized water production, or backup units form one separate unit that can be easily controlled and its operation evaluated efficiently thanks to integrated HiVision modules.

The HiVision control system is a registered trademark of ITS.

A guarantee for all the demanding parameters and implementation in record time

The delivery of a complex and fully automatic system is a standard solution from ITS with a full guarantee for all the investor's demanding parameters. This is only possible thanks to high professionalism, our own laboratory, design and programming team, and above all our internal production. This is as well as our perfectly prepared service and technological support, which is provided 24/7.

The above project was implemented in a record time of 3 months, commissioned on the agreed date, and is clearly one of the most technologically advanced technologies in the field.