In order to be able to meet the requirements of its long-term partner Deutsche Bahn even better, the construction service provider Jaeger Bernburg has decided to expand its activities in steel construction. In order for the company to manufacture the required flame-cut parts for its own mast production, cutting technology from ERL Automation has been used since last year. With an erlcut portal system for plasma cutting, oxyfuel cutting and drilling as well as a BIBER robot cutting system for weld seam preparation, the company has been able to significantly increase flexibility and optimise costs.
Jaeger Bernburg is a highly efficient group of companies that designs and implements a wide range of different services in the construction industry with a focus on traffic route, structural engineering and railway construction. The name Jaeger Bernburg unites eight companies with a total of around 650 employees who successfully implement a wide variety of complex construction projects throughout Germany. In the field of railway and overhead line construction, the company can handle the complete steel construction as a package, from the foundation to the delivery, to the assembly and complete equipment. This includes the manufacture and assembly of catenary masts, steel masts of all trades as well as the planning, manufacture and assembly of signal brackets, signal gantries and special constructions.
Strong partner for challenging tasks
The steel construction department is located at the Lübbenau site, along with overhead line construction and electrical system construction. Among other things, masts, girders and railings that are mounted along railway lines to form signal gantries, passenger overpasses or catenary masts are manufactured there. The flame-cut parts needed for the mast production were previously bought in. For cost and time reasons, Jaeger Bernburg considered bringing this production step in-house. "For us, it was not only about the price, but also about flexibility. Deutsche Bahn, for example, specifies that a certain section of track must be completed by day X. If our service provider for the cutting then has to work off other orders before us, we quickly get under time pressure," explains Rainer Speer, head of department at Jaeger Bernburg.
In the search for a suitable partner for this project, Jaeger Bernburg became aware of the cutting systems from ERL. "We saw the BIBER for the first time at a trade fair and were fascinated from the very beginning. When ERL visited us for the first project discussion, we also realised very quickly that this was a very good fit, both technically and personally," Speer recalls. In addition, the reference visit, during which he and his colleagues were able to get an impression of similar plants, was very informative.
An economic analysis of the company's needs ultimately showed that cutting in-house would pay off and at the same time create capacity for other departments, such as pipeline construction or special civil engineering. Suitable premises were already available, not in Lübbenau, but at the Bernburg site. After the hall there was completely renovated in a very short time, an erlcut e650 portal cutting system and a profiBIBER robot cutting system for automated weld seam preparation moved in a few months later.
Cutting and drilling in one step
For cutting, ERL has supplied a portal cutting system erlcut e650, which is designed for the processes of plasma cutting, oxyfuel cutting and drilling. The machine with a cutting area of 2 m width and 10 m length has a plasma station for processing sheets up to 40 mm thick. A HiFocus 440i neo is used as the power source. For larger sheet thicknesses up to 200 mm, an oxyfuel cutting torch with internal ignition and height control is available.
"We also have to drill many of our components. All the more pleasing that this could be implemented accordingly in the cutting system from ERL," says Rainer Speer. In addition to the plasma and oxyfuel process, the portal system is also equipped with a newly developed fully automatic drilling spindle. The erlcut-drill drilling unit makes it possible to process the components immediately before cutting in a single operation without having to drill the workpieces in a second step on a separate machine. In addition to the time savings, the user also benefits from the easy handling. Drill holes and countersinks can be realised up to a diameter of 40 mm, depending on the material and component. Threads from M6 to M20 are possible. The tool magazine, which is located directly on the portal bridge, can be loaded with up to 12 tools by Jaeger Bernburg. It has its own drive to position the selected tool for pick-up by the drilling spindle. In the parking position, it is protected from drilling chips as well as flying sparks. To protect it from flying drill chips, the drilling unit itself is also enclosed in a housing. In order to give the operator easy access to the drilling unit, the protective housing can be opened over a large area. The drilling unit also has a pneumatic hold-down device. This fixes the sheet during mechanical processing and reliably prevents any movement of the material to be processed. To avoid process errors, the lengths of the drilling tools used must always be precisely recorded. This function is performed automatically by the system. A corresponding tool measuring system measures the individual tools before each use.
For simple and efficient work processes, ERL has included a cutting table with belt conveyor system in the system concept. Compared to a standard table, this solution eliminates time-consuming cleaning work. With this table system, there is an endless belt conveyor under the cutting grid that runs through a water bath. This transports slag and small parts automatically to the end of the table, where they fall onto a transverse conveyor, which then transports them into a container. The container is covered with a grid so that small parts can be filtered out and easily removed. The water bed binds the cutting dust, which means that a comparatively low power is sufficient for the extraction system.
The e*volution control system with a 21-inch, non-reflective display also ensures easy handling of the system. An integrated database for all available processes enables a smooth start into the production with the erlcut and can be extended by the user at any time. For programming, the construction service provider Jaeger Bernburg has the programming system act/cut at its disposal, a universal nesting software that was individually adapted to the special features of the erlcut. In addition to the standard configuration, the user has chosen the extension modules act/sign and act/manager. act/sign makes it possible to create a dxf file from logos, graphics, fonts, but also from photographed components in just a few clicks. In addition, an optimization function is also available to improve the quality of the contours to be cut. Act/manager offers an interface for creating and managing production orders and stock. The module allows the allocation of parts to the individual order items as well as the use of the material stock for nesting (whole and cut sheet metal panels).
Modern chamfering robot for weld seam preparation and more
The BIBER cutting robot is used for components that have to be chamfered. Jaeger Bernburg has chosen the profiBIBER version, in which the robot is located on an upstream console and can be moved by a track. The user can either use the 2 x 13 m working area completely or divide it into two stations by a movable partition wall.
With the BIBER, all types of chamfers can be applied to already shape-cut parts - in extreme cases up to four different chamfers on one edge. Single and double chamfers can be created as well as chamfers with or without a web. By using a special bevel cutting table, sheets can be processed on both the top and the bottom side without having to turn them over. Here, too, both cutting processes are used. The robot is equipped with both a plasma torch and an oxyfuel torch, which can be changed in a very short time. Practical screw and plug connections require only a few hand movements until the operator can start the robot again. Plasma chamfers are possible up to 55 mm, oxyfuel chamfers up to 200 mm.
A technology that makes handling particularly easy is the intelliplace camera system. Jaeger Bernburg has chosen the fully automatic premium version. All that needs to be done is to scan the QR or bar codes on the components or on their accompanying documents with a hand scanner. A high-performance camera attached to the robot records the table occupancy, the corresponding cutting programmes are automatically called up and also automatically assigned correctly. Even when the cutting area of 2 x 13 m is fully occupied, the non-productive times are comparatively short. In addition, this rules out the possibility of confusing similar or mirror-image components.
Because Jaeger Bernburg also wanted to machine girders with the BIBER that would later be needed for noise barriers, for example, the system was designed in such a way that it can be loaded and unloaded not only from the front but also with long parts from the side. To enable the user to create the corresponding cutting programmes quickly and easily, ERL has provided special macros for this purpose. Instead of having to create a separate cutting programme for each of the different beam sizes, the operator can simply enter the different measurements and the programme automatically adapts accordingly.
A special feature of this BIBER is that the system can also be used for cutting, e.g. to compensate for capacity bottlenecks. While standard BIBER systems allow single vertical cuts on already cut-out components without any problems, this BIBER can do even more. An interface to the nesting software act/cut has been created, which is also used with the portal cutting machine. This makes it possible to nest and process a complete sheet metal panel. Another advantage of this constellation is that residual sheet metal can be utilized in the best possible way. On portal systems, it is often difficult to set up residual sheets with a laser pointer, e.g. because it is not easy to find an exact reference point for round parts. This results in inaccuracies and the risk of producing rejects. With the BIBER cutting robot, on the other hand, the user can use the live image from intelliplace to help set up the remaining sheet. In the virtual table layout, the operator sees the residual sheet vertically from above and can position the component programmes to be cut precisely and be sure that they can be cut without any problems.
The BIBER cutting robot has been running in Bernburg since May, and in October the erlcut was integrated into production. But that's not all: "Deutsche Bahn demands complete traceability for safety reasons. Therefore, we have to label all parts that we deliver to our client with a batch number," Speer tells us. Jaeger Bernburg plans to automate this work step as well and has had ERL develop a corresponding concept.