Best Practice in steel plate processing
Wuppermann Group manufactures steelplate products, tubes and pieces of sheet metal work. The Moerdijk settlement processes approx. 650.000 tons of steel annually.
Wuppermann Staal Nederland is a steelworking factory in Moerdijk. The company grounds are large, just like the hall where all kinds of machines, like a galvanizing machine, a cutting machine and four packing lines are located. Still, the complex is smaller than most of its competitors’ premises. Moreover, less employees (130) than one would expect, are at work. This is the result of a far-reaching process streamlining.
The Wuppermann Group is a manufacturer of flat steel products, tubes and sheet-metal parts. The German family business, founded in 1872 by Heinrich Wuppermann, has grown into 12 factories, 6 sales offices worldwide and 1.219 employees. The Moerdijk settlement processes approx. 650.000 tons of steel each year. The load arrives rolled up in coils by boat from Tata IJmuiden. The unmanned (!) outdoor crane hoists these coils (22.000 kg each) onto the quay, directly at the correct spot.
In the factory huge powerful machines unroll the coils. Dependent on the customer’s wishes, the plates get a certain roughness, are lacquered, cut or brought to a specific thickness. Approximately 95% of the steel is galvanized, thus provided with a gleaming layer of zinc metal. It goes with 100 tons/hour at a maximum speed of 125 m/minute. Ruud Knippels, head of the technical department and improvement manager and Dennis van Helden, head of the mechanical TD are both responsible for a flawless operation of the machinery.
Whom is all that steel made for?
Wuppermann supplies semi-finished products, which are produced for the automotive industry, the construction industry and especially the steel service centers that use these for products for suspending jobs, wall profiles, warehouse scaffolds and doors.
Unique combi line
Ruud Knippels: “We have developed (and patented) a combi line of 150 meters that turns around the metal sheets. As a result the factory could be much smaller than our competitors’ factories, i.e. cheaper. We also accommodate processes, like cutting and galvanizing, which elsewhere often take place in separate factories.” The own engineering and process technology department is focused on continuous innovation. For example the production capacity was increased by 25% by preheating the steel to 450º C before submerging it in the zinc pool.
The role of drive technology
Dennis van Helden: “This role is essential. The process may not stop abruptly. Every 24 hour standstill costs € 200.000. Only in the summer and in the winter we do stop operation for a while. In a week’s time SEW-Eurodrive is exchanging gearboxes. We often limit ourselves to one gearbox each time, dependent on the size. SEW registers the exact dimensions and modifies the foundation. In the meantime the IG factory of SEW in Germany builds the gearbox custom-made. Two more days remain after assembly to start up again. Nothing may go wrong here.”
Selection in favour of SEW-Eurodrive
Ruud Knippels: “For three reasons: Product quality, service and swiftness. Since 2006 leaking (American) gearboxes were pushed aside by the ones from SEW. An industrial gear unit type X3FS180/B was foot-mounted in the last winter stop. This unit is driving a conveyor belt at a nominal torque of 58000 Nm.”
The lilac-purple colour of the machines in the factory is noticeable. Ruud Knippels: “We chose this colour deliberately, because it evokes cheerful feelings amongst the employees. Besides the steel also the human being is put at the center.” Operators in control rooms control the processes. There are no people at the factory floor, which means that the production process is running smoothly. Quite a masterly example of process management.