Dream solution for nightmare flood damage

When flooding hit Sheffield in June 2007, the quarter-mile long workshops of the world's largest independently-owned forgemasters, Sheffield Forgemasters, were under 5ft of water. One of the worst affected machines was a vast SFM Kolomna cutting machine. Seymour Engineering, an experienced system integrator of Siemens motion control equipment, were able to find an ideal solution to the nightmare scenario by using Sinumerik 840Di sl to refurbish and transform it into a modern CNC machine...

Aug 19th, 2008

SHEFFIELD, UK -- When flooding hit Sheffield on 25 June 2007, the quarter-mile long workshops of the world's largest independently-owned forgemasters, Sheffield Forgemasters, were under 152cm (5ft) of water. One of the worst affected machines was a vast SFM Kolomna cutting machine. Seymour Engineering, an experienced system integrator of Siemens motion control equipment, were able to find an ideal solution to the nightmare scenario by using Sinumerik 840Di sl to refurbish and transform it into a modern CNC machine.

Sheffield Forgemasters' South Machine Workshop General Manager Chris Archer had watched the waters rising during the day of June 25 and only left the premises when the waters reached knee height.

He and his colleagues had saved what they could from the workshop, but most of the machinery, including the Kolomna, which stood in a 4.5m (15ft) pit, had to be left behind. When the waters receded, silt 14cm (six inches) deep was left behind, coating every part of the machine, its drives and electrics.

Sheffield Forgemasters produces some of the largest bespoke engineering products in the world and, when the floods struck, the Kolomna was being used on a project to provide a large water turbine piece for a customer in China.

Chris Archer said: "Machines such as the Kolomna are made to order, and it would take years to get a new one. We wanted to be able to refurbish what we had and to upgrade it at the same time, if possible."

The challenge
Halifax-based Seymour Engineering, a Siemens Motion Control Integrator, was called in to look at the project and found a machine with a drive table (chuck) of 6.3m diameter and with a 125kw drive motor -- one of the largest they, or Siemens, had ever encountered.

Seymour Engineering Technical Director Simon Butterworth explained: "The Kolomna is a giant of a machine and the amount of damage presented a real challenge. All the electrics, motors, clutches and bearings were completely destroyed and the associated gearboxes were badly damaged.

"The most cost-effective solution was to re-engineer the machine. The multiple clutch and geared lead screw drive trains were replaced with precision ballscrews and digital CNC controlled servo motors and drives. This provided the additional benefit of upgrading the machine from manual control to the latest full CNC control. The size of the table motor made the Sinamics solution the obvious choice."

The Solution
Siemens Sinumerick 840Di sl, a fully PC-integrated numerical control system combined with the SINAMICS S120 drive system, provided the opportunity to transform the Kolomna into a CNC operated-machine with all the benefits of increased accuracy, speed and flexibility.

Simon Butterworth explained: "Siemens was not only able to provide the solution, but could back it up with technical support and knowledge to meet the particular challenges this project posed."

For Siemens, Dave Cant, Account Manager MC/MT Sales, added: "The Sinumerik 840Di Sl (Solution Line) had been designed with retrofitting in mind and this was the first application in the UK to use the system in conjunction with the Sinamics S120 'booksize' and 'chassis' drive and motors from the Siemens 1FT6 and 1PH7 range, enabling the 125kw drive motor to be replaced with a 130kw spindle motor and drive combination. The CNC family SINUMERIK is the perfect automation system for machine tools with solutions ranging from shopfloor manufacturing to something as large as this."

How does it work?
The Sinumerik 840Di sl is a fully PC-integrated numerical control system for up to 20 axes, interworking with the Sinamics S120 drive system. It is used for technological applications performed on machine tools, special-purpose machines, robot systems as well as retrofit machines.

The control has open hardware and software functions and is ideal for users requiring distributed automation solutions for PLC Inputs/Outputs (I/Os) and drives and/or a fully PC-integrated control system.

The Sinumerik 840Di sl provides individual technology solutions, bringing in expert know-how using HMI and PLC openness; flexible communication via USB and Ethernet interfaces and isochronous PROFIBUS, and flexible solutions through open hardware and software functions using standard applications on a rigid industrial PC.

The Sinamics S120 is a modular drive system for high performance mechanical and system engineering applications. Its powerful single drives and co-ordinated drives (multiple-axis applications) support vector or servo functions. It covers the 0.12 to 4,500kW performance range and provides a perfect basis for modular systems through innovative system architecture and digital communication options. It also enables faster engineering and commissioning using SIZER and STARTER tools and simple cabling using ethernet based "DRIVE-CLiQ."

The retrofit has upgraded a semi automatic point-to-point machine to full CNC functionality. For Sheffield Forgemaster Chris Archer said: "We now have increased accuracy and flexibility -- enabling us to offer our customers a wider range of services, and the improved speed means we are able to increase throughput times.

"As a workshop, we were out of action for some time, but the water turbine project has now been completed on the refurbished Kolomna, which also enabled us to work through a backlog of projects for customers from across the world.

Seymour Engineering's Simon Butterworth said: "Siemens solution was not only the best on the market, but their understanding of the technical issues involved in this project gave us the support and confidence we needed to provide the customers with a world-class solution."

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Also see:
-- South West Water insists on Siemens gears & drives

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