Metal coil upender
Coil handling equipment is designed to transfer and manipulate metal coils that weigh anywhere from 2500 pounds to well over 60,000 pounds. The coils can have widths from 12 inches to 84 inches or beyond.
The purpose of this equipment goes beyond simply taking coils from one location to the other and includes timing the coil feeding equipment with the right coil at the right time, in order to optimize the efficiency of the line.
Coil handling begins with the arrival of coils at the plant either by rail car or typically by flatbed truck. Depending on the weight of the coil, it can either be lifted with a standard forklift, perhaps featuring a coil holding arm, or a specially designed coil lift that is capable of handling 50,000+ pound coils. Cranes and gantry hoists can also be used for unloading coils and are well adapted for fully automatic rail cars and turnstiles.
Some operations stage the coils on specially fabricated industrial shelving prior to loading them on the uncoiling machine, or the rail cars that deliver the coil to the uncoiling machine.
For more highly automated metal slitting lines and factories, there will often be a staging area with multiple coils ready to be loaded robotically or with minimal labor into the uncoiler.
Some of the coil handling equipment that may be used for handling the coils includes; coil cradles for loading coils and threading and uncoiling for generally medium to heavier gauge metal coils. Other systems use a device called the upender and are for lifting a steel coil into the position so that it can be advanced into the coil line.
Each of the steps along the way from the original coil manufacturer to the coil slitting lines or cut the length lines/ processing lines can require multiple types of coil handling equipment. For example, magnetic cranes can lift and move coils as can internal diameter grabbers, or lift forks, or external grabbers, or upenders, or coil handling systems that are individually suited for particular types and dimensions of coils.
The handling of coils seems to be a necessity but not particularly important part of the overall coil processing line. This is a fallacy. Coil handling, if not approached correctly, will result in the extremely expensive investment in the coil processing line not being used efficiently because of delays in getting coils both on and off the coil handling line.
Investing in robotic coil handling equipment, from the inventory section all the way through the unloading of the processed coil onto coil transfer cars and downenders plays an integral role in creating the most efficient operation possible.
The coil line itself is set up to be efficient. Once the coil is in process and tuned for accurate production of a particular coil or cut to length product. This means that the bulk of efficiency gains will come not necessarily from running the coil line in a more efficient manner after the coil has been loaded, but instead from how the coils are handled prior to loading and after loading. This will ensure that the coil processing line can run as seamlessly as possible, including speed or maintenance issues and downtime between shifts.
The only other significant alternative for gaining efficiency from a coil processing line, other than how efficiently coils are handled in between changeovers and downtime, is to simply run the entire line at a higher rate of speed.
It is a relatively safe assumption that any coil processing facility is already running the equipment at efficient speed with the level of wear and tear it will impose on the equipment and the energy used all factored in, producing the highest level of profit for that particular operation.
Running at a higher rate of speed requires significant investment in a variety of different control systems. These are things such as higher capacity drives, increased labor for both monitoring and processing material pre-and post coil line, and addressing the deformation and edge issues associated with higher speed processing.
If instead of running the line at a higher speed, an operator decides to be more efficient with coil handling, then they only need to address two steps: the first step is joining the expended coil onto the new coil and eliminating the time and challenge of rethreading of the entire line, and saving some of the scrap and the time associated with the changeover.
This procedure of attaching the new coil to the in-process coil will require a device known as a strip accumulator, which is essentially storing enough material for the welding of the new seam to take place.
Other than that step, properly handling coils with some of the equipment mentioned, and having them ready to go for seamless changeovers, is one of the most significant processing changes a coil producing operation can make in order to maximize the efficiency of their production.
Part two of this article will go into detail about the other processes and coil handling equipment involved in coil processing lines.
Coil Handling Equipment Pt.2 will cover additional portions of the Coil Handling Equipment Section
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