apt Extrusions GmbH & Co. KG, part of the apt Group, completed the installation of a new 27 MN, front-loading extrusion press line at its extrusion plant in Monheim am Rhein, Germany. This new press, which replaces a former 20 MN press, is designed to meet market requirements for larger profiles.
One of the leading European aluminum profile manufacturers, the apt Group has an annual production capacity of 80,000 tons. It operates two extrusion facilities with a total of six extrusion lines — one in Monheim and the second in Roermond, the Netherlands — and two fabrication centers based in Eckental, Germany, and Cheb, the Czech Republic. It also has three anodizing plants. The group serves the building, transportation, and industry sectors with complex aluminum profiles.
“Despite a challenging investment environment in Germany and the Netherlands, which is mainly caused by high energy and personnel costs, apt has repeatedly proven to maintain its competitiveness by investing in the most modern technologies,” said Bernd Schäfer, CEO of the group. “In this way, the future of these locations is sustainably secured.”
New Press Line
apt Group selected SMS group to supply the new 27 MN extrusion press line. Through cooperation between all partners involved, the project was carried out efficiently. From December 16, 2017 when the project commenced to January 18, 2018 when the first hot aluminum billet was extruded, the old extrusion line was dismantled (including the old 20 MN press) and all items of the new press line were installed. By January 29th, apt Extrusions was able to achieve full operation of the press in three shifts.
“apt selected SMS group as supplier of the extrusion press for reasons of safety, energy efficiency, productivity, and product quality,” said Thomas Boddenberg, managing director of apt Extrusions GmbH & Co. KG. “All of these factors had played a crucial role in apt’s future orientation towards the production of aluminum profiles for the automotive and construction industries as well as for industrial customers.”
In addition to increasing the company’s ability to produce larger profiles, the modern front-loading press provides substantial advantages. The new press operates with an ecodraulic system, which features an intelligent start/stop for automatic shutdown of unused hydraulic pumps to save energy. The hydraulics are also designed to be fast, achieving short process times and the linear guidance of the press results in improved process reliability.
The extrusion press package also covered fully automatic handling equipment, a new billet heating furnace and a hot billet saw. The runout table and automated handling system from OMAV includes a high capacity quenching system, which provides improved mechanical properties. The quench system can be optimized to suit asymmetrical profile cross-sections and greater tolerances for demanding alloys. The automated puller includes a flying cut saw to achieve accurate lengths and reduced production scrap, as well as enabling the company to take 500 mm samples as needed during ongoing production.
The extruder also installed an extrutec GmbH gas heating furnace combined with an IAS induction furnace for the pre-heating of billet. The furnace system is able to provide exact temperature control, resulting in product quality consistency. The new hot billet saw is a novelty for apt Group, providing precisely cut billets prior to extrusion that make the process less sensitive to failures. In addition, billet handling logistics were improved with a new block magazine rack that can store up to 150 bars near the press and then automatically feed the billet into the log heating system.
Thanks to the configuration of the new 27 MN press and its parameters, apt Group is able to generate further synergy and backup potential between the two extrusion plants in Monheim and Roermond.
In addition to the new extrusion press line, apt Group installed automatic sawing lines at both its facilities in Monheim and Roermond.
In Monheim, the new saw includes an automated feeding system with a dynamic linear drive. The profiles are gripped by a clamping unit and moved into position at the saw, ensuring that the profiles are placed precisely and resulting in a higher throughput rate. Due to short change times at the facility, the machinery is designed to be highly flexible and to produce lengths between 10 mm and 3,500 mm.
At apt Extrusions B.V. in Roermond, the new saw is characterized by its extremely tight tolerances, having been designed to to fit the specific market requirements of the commercial vehicle sector that the facility serves.
“Altogether, the investment into the new press leads to energy savings and a significant increase in productivity, process reliability, and quality,” said Schäfer. “Furthermore, the additional investments in sawing competencies at the Monheim and Roermond location are an additional step towards optimized workflows. Our employees benefit from ergonomic working conditions with the highest possible safety levels.”