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Batch homogenizing for rolling slabs

Our fully automated homogenizing plants with integrated slab storage are ideal for rolling slabs from AA 2xxx to AA 7xxx series alloys. These are hard AlCu/AlZn alloys mainly destined for the aircraft industry.

You probably know that production and handling of these slabs is hazardous. Due to the casting process, severe inner tensions build up inside the slabs. There is a constant risk that large pieces of material can burst off, resulting in severe injury to bystanders or damage to surrounding equipment. This is what made it vital to design a fully automated process, including all slab handling.

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After casting, slabs are transported by fork truck to the entry/exit table of the batch homogenizing plant. The driver enters the charge/slab number – all other relevant slab information is provided by the production planning system (PPS).Next, the fork manipulator moves the slabs to the weighing platform, where they are measured, weighed, and marked. Parameters from the PPS are verified against the measured values of each slab. If everything  is OK, the fork manipulator transfers the slab to the storage area, which has a capacity of 180 slabs.All subsequent production steps are automated. Acting on production orders from the PPS, the fork manipulator collects the relevant slabs from their storage positions and builds a stack inside a steel cage. The steel cages are designed to protect the surroundings from pieces of slab that burst off.To build the stacks, a spacer manipulator takes up spacers from the spacer magazine and positions them on the slabs, layer for layer. This routine is repeated in reverse order after homogenizing. The charging machine picks up the completed stack together with its steel cage and moves it into the homogenizing furnace. Later, it transfers the stack from there to the air cooling station and finally back into the stacking position for destacking. Crucial here is that the homogenizing furnace follows precise temperature regimes determined by the homogenizing recipes for the corresponding alloys. You can modify predefined recipes at any time to suit your requirements. The system defines heating curves for standard 2xxx, 3xxx, and 6xxx alloys as well as sophisticated curves with multiple temperature steps for 7xxx alloys, then saves them to the database. Following destacking after homogenizing, single slabs are either returned by the fork manipulator to the slab storage area or transferred directly to the inspection station (visual and ultrasonic), then on to the downstream slab saw. Yet there is an attractive alternative to PPS stack configuration. Your operator can assemble stacks himself. This process is supported by an optimization calculation, which automatically suggests suitable slabs to put together into a stack. The plant completely conforms with the stringent quality requirements of the aircraft industry. That includes state-of-the-art data logging, reporting, and full integration into your own database.

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Mani placing a slab into the storage rack
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Charging into homogenizing furnace
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Loading a slab with spacer bars
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Slab storage overview