Strip press feeding lines have now advanced to the point where there are steel strips wider than 84 inches across, supporting coil weights of over 80,000 pounds with the progressions exceeding 100 inches.
In order for this combination of both precision and tonnage to work correctly, the entire system has to be capable of starting and stopping with a control mechanism. The latest advancements are all focused on simplifying the coil handling and making sure that the setup times are reduced and automating the equipment as much as possible to ensure both speed and precision.
Coil sizes are continuing to increase, making both the handling and staging process more linked to automated services and moving towards eliminating manually moved carts. Coil cars allow one coil to be staged while another is already being run, and turnstiles allow for nearly instantaneous changeover from one coil to the next.
Vertical lifts of coil cars used to be in the 10 to 14 inch range which was enough if you were usually running the entire product of one coil size. But if you wanted to remove either smaller or larger coils, then this difference in coil capacity is not sufficient.
One of the keys to getting the most out of an automatic steel strip press feeding line is to make sure that you can adapt the line to a variety of coils from end-to-end. This means that the coil cars and coal handling equipment all need to have the capability of automatically and rapidly, adapt to the size of the coil to introduce it into the system with precision, independent of either the OD or the ID of the coil.
If the coal handling equipment is not automated, then there may be labor required for introducing spacers. That operation is both potentially dangerous, introduces operator error, and as well slows down the process. If you have a high-volume application, then pre-staging multiple coils can reduce the downtime.
Turnstiles are one of the key methods for reducing downtime and handling precision coils but there are also coil racks and robotic cranes that make turnstiles potentially unnecessary, if you can pull the coil from a closely staged rack.
There are systems that can have the uncoiler traverse to the coil staging rack and pull the coil itself. Of course, it is also possible to use cranes or coil cars and a variety of other mechanisms in order to transfer the coil.
One of the key points about using the uncoiler is making sure that the brake tension is dynamic so that as the coil unrolls, and the weight of the coil decreases, the break or the servo, adjusts appropriately to provide the correct level tension.
Another aspect that is important for an automatic steel strip press feeding line is that as strips become wider, the material gauges get thicker, and the leading edge of the material into the line becomes much more challenging to work with.
A peeler or breaker is often used to thread the material between the uncoiler and the leveler. New technology such as laser welding can often create a near-perfect seam while the uncoiler is jogging forward the material from the leaving coil and mating it with the entering coil automatically.
Peelers occasionally have to be modified for the strips with an edge guide also having to adjust to the material automatically. All of this goes into making the steel strip press feeding line as automated as possible and requiring the lowest level of labor input.
One of the challenges with a feeding line over simply a slitting line is that you have dimensions in two axes that you have to be controlled precisely. Not only is the width important, but the links must be equally as precise. For this reason the tension, the edge control, the center, and on coiling control are all hyper critical.
Because of this hypercritical dimension burden in both axes, the width and the length, a steel strip press feeding line has to be even more precise in controlling the status of all drives and brakes or there will be dimensional tolerance issues. The ideal scenario is to combine multiple setup functions into either pushbutton operations or automatically generated sequences.
This means that all of the adjustments that are required for different sized coils and different customer needs are adapted to simultaneously and avoiding any mistakes that may occur because of the additional burden of feeding the length appropriately rather than just slitting the width.
Future articles will discuss downline operations that can also increase feeding accuracy and speed. The main focus on a feeding line though is keeping the feed at the highest rate possible while maintaining consistent dimensions through the feed cycleTo return from this Strip Press Feeding page to the Strip Metal Coil Processing Home page, click here.
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