Brian Smith, president, and KC Lesch, COO, at Albina Co. Inc. discuss the reasons why they selected DAVI Promau for their steel bending, rolling and fabrication processes.
Albina Co. Inc. is a family owned business servicing the steel industry since 1939. Located in Portland, Oregon, they serve all United States and Canada. Steel bending, steel rolling and steel fabrication are their bread and butter, since they curve structural steel members, various sizes of round pipe and HSS material, and plates.
With a big angle roll (MCP) and a 3 roll variable axis plate roll (MAV) purchased in the last two years, Albina started partnering with DAVI. This led us to the chance of talking with Brian Smith, president, and KC Lesch, COO, at Albina.
For starters, Brian told us about the history of the company and the recent rolling needs. “Our first angle rolls were homemade and started us on our 81-year adventure as a bending company. After many years, when we started rolling plate, our equipment allowed us to bend small and medium sized material. Last year, then, we decided to take the leap and go into the large plate rolling market and purchased a DAVI MAV, allowing us to bend 64 mm x 3 mt wide plates,” he said.
Then, he explained which criteria they use when they select a new rolling machine. Being downtime a schedule and reputation killer, quality is the first feature, since the equipment must be dependable and operational 24/7, as well as it needs to be innovative in some way. Secondly, an unmatched customer support—that is, they look for a company wanting to team up and having longevity in the industry. Moreover, easy access to spare parts and tooling and, last but not least, price (reasonable and within budget).
With over 250 installations worldwide and approximately 60 percent of the overall wind energy rolling machines market share, DAVI is a key player in the global wind energy industry development. Article by Dario Mulazzani, DAVI-Promau.
The wind energy sector has been experiencing a solid growth in the recent years, with a total installed capacity increasing over threefold in the 2010-2018 period, passing from 185 GW to 600 GW. While the on-shore wind Industry reached its maturity and it is expected to keep delivering a steady 45-50 GW of additional capacity each year, the off-shore wind sector is surging.
According to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) the off-shore installations should account for over 20% of the total added yearly capacity by 2023, reaching a total capacity of 63 GW, compared to 23 GW in 2018.
The main drivers could be summarized as follows:
The off-shore installation allows for the deployment of larger turbines (both in terms of capacity and physical size), mostly due to constraints related to on-shore transportation of the relevant heavy and expansive equipment. A wind farm comprised of larger turbine will necessarily require lower CAPEX & OPEX per installed capacity, hence decreasing the Project LCOE.
Off-shore winds tend to be steadier and have higher average speeds. This means that more energy can be generated during the year compared to a similar on-shore installation.
Coastal areas typically have high energy needs, with both population and industry concentrated in major coastal cities.
However, compared to on-shore installations, building off-shore farms presents several technical difficulties. In particular, it is very challenging to provide large and very large turbines (nowadays reaching up to 12MW) with a solid anchoring to the seabed.
According to the Norwegian Energy Partners Global Off-shore Report 2018, off-shore foundations accounts for approximately 14% of the total Project LCOE (levelized cost of electricity) in Europe. This figure is likely to be even higher in other markets where seismicity forces the developers to design heavier foundations, (such as for countries surrounding the Pacific Ocean—the so-called Ring of Fire). The same report states that the towers contribute for approximately 4% of the aforementioned LCOE.
It is, hence, likely to assume that in certain markets, foundations and towers combined would account for approximately 20% of the total Project LCOE. This is why reducing the cost of such heavy equipment becomes of critical importance.
Leading the Wind Energy Market
Both towers and foundations are comprised of large plates rolled into cans and cones. Such workpieces are then welded together in large sections which, in the case of pin-piles or monopile foundations, can reach up to 100 m. With plates thicknesses often exceeding 140 mm, increasingly large diameters (>12 m) and very strict dimensional tolerance requirements, the fabrication of off-shore foundations is certainly the most challenging and time consuming rolling operation.
Fabricators are, therefore, in need of a technology partner able to deliver high performance and reliable rolling machines capable of sustaining the demanding serial production characteristics of this industry by increasing rolling accuracy, output and operator safety while decreasing downtimes, floor-to-floor processing time and manpower requirements.
With its cutting edge technology developed by working with the most accredited towers and foundations manufacturers as well as project developers, DAVI is one of the leading players in the wind energy industry, having over 250 installations worldwide and approximately 60 percent of the overall wind energy rolling machines market share.
With over 50 years’ experience delivering high quality 3- and 4-roll rolling machines, DAVI’s R&D team has developed high value patents deployed in its unique product lines specifically designed for the wind energy industry. The company also has developed a proprietary wind energy control system capable of providing full automation as required by the Industry 4.0 standards.
Through its high productivity lines, DAVI introduced to the market innovative CNC-controlled features such as the possibility of executing exacts first pre-bending at the beginning of the rolling process, thanks to the patented infeed lifting conveyor. By lifting together with the bending rolls, the conveyor supports the plate while pre-bending, completely eliminating the distortions that would otherwise occur due to counter bending forces generated by the plate’s own weight.
While rolling large-diameter workpieces, the front edge would “close” under its own weight, and adjustment operations would be needed in order to avoid overlapping with the trailing edge. As part of its high productivity line, DAVI’s patented pushers with hooking fingers installed on the lateral supports completely eliminate the risk of overlapping as well as allow for perfect positioning and alignment of the two plate edges at the end of the rolling process in preparation for on-machine tack welding. The two features combined can increase the operation speed by 25 to 30 percent, compared to manual process.
Here’s how one company addressed the challenges of wind tower manufacturing. Article by Stefano Santoni, DAVI Promau.
MAM Maschinen, part of the ENERCON Group, processes more than 33,000 tons of steel per year. Employing around 300 people, MAM Maschinen is currently one of the most relevant players for the fabrication of heavy-duty components for several industrial sectors, in particular, wind towers and steel bridges.
In line with the trend towards higher efficiency in manufacturing, MAM has been improving its degree of automation as well as internal know-how to provide the highest quality products to their customers with the maximum respect for the environment.
In this framework, MAM Maschinen became in need of a plate roll technology partner that could support their serial and intensive production of wind tower sections. Evaluating different plate roll manufacturers, the company aimed at identifying the optimum technology in terms of performance, repeatability, and reliability to comply with the strict tolerances imposed by the end-users.
“From the initial contact in 2017 to the final purchase, dealing with DAVI has been satisfying in every respect,” says Andreas Kühn, Innovation Leader at MAM Maschinen. “The negotiation with the company was fair and they managed to meet our requirements. Now, we are happy with the machine that is working properly and quick. We are carrying on the foreseen works on our DAVI plate roll that entered our production flow, making it smoother and with no issues caused.”
MAM Maschinen selected a four-roll plate rolling machine with a capacity of 3,000 x 96 mm, equipped with dedicated accessories for the highest level of flexibility. The DAVI machine now constitutes a major fabrication asset to MAM, being utilized to roll wind tower sections as well as other components for the mechanical industry, in general.
Leveraging 50 Years of Experience and Know how
With over 50 years of experience in delivering high quality three- and four-roll rolling machines, DAVI’s R&D developed high-value patents deployed in unique product lines specifically designed for the wind energy industry. DAVI also developed a proprietary Wind Energy control system capable of providing full automation as required by the Industry 4.0 standards.
DAVI’s High Productivity Line introduced to the market innovative CNC-controlled features such as the possibility of executing exacts first pre-bending at the beginning of the rolling process, thanks to the patented infeed lifting conveyor. By lifting together with the bending rolls, the conveyor supports the plate while pre-bending, completely eliminating the distortions which would otherwise occur due to counter bending forces generated by the plate own weight.
While rolling large diameter workpieces, the front edge would “close” under its own weight and adjustment operations would be needed in order to avoid overlapping with the trailing edge. As part of the High Productivity Line, DAVI’s patented pushers with hooking fingers installed on the lateral supports completely eliminate the risk of overlapping as well as allow for perfect positioning and alignment of the two plate edges at the end of the rolling process in preparation for on-machine tack welding. The two features combined can increase the operation speed by 25%/30% (compared to manual process).
Addressing the Cone Forming Challenge
Cone forming is recognized as the most challenging rolling process. Forcing the plate edges to travel at two different speeds, the process generates high stress on the rolling machine as well as on the plate itself. On a typical wind cone application, it is of paramount importance to protect the integrity of the bevels, which must be realized prior the rolling process (due to high costs involved in beveling the plate after it is formed into a cone or can). For this reason, the state-of-the-art Wind Towers & Foundations cone rolling involves a step-by-step forming process where, at each step, the plate must be repositioned in order to make sure that the cone generatrix overlaps the top roll axis. Depending on accessories installed, this repositioning would both take a very long time, deplete the final workpiece tolerances and potentially put the operators at risk
DAVI responded to the industry needs by introducing a ground-breaking fully automated cone forming system. This is achieved by positioning and guiding the plate while cone forming without damaging the bevels (wide contact surface) for plates up to 100mm. This system allows for a complete cone forming executed by a single operator, with maximum repeatability, highest accuracy and the shortest possible floor-to-floor time (30 percent–50 percent faster compared to manual process).
The whole process—consisting of plate positioning, squaring, pre-bending, rolling and aligning for tack-welding—can be completed in less than 20 minutes, even for high-thickness plates.
“The positive experience we are having with DAVI leads me to believe that, for future needs, we will certainly make contact with them again. The plate roll shows a high quality and an impressive mechanical stability. A relevant aspect we really appreciated about DAVI was the customer support we can receive in our own language, that made the troubleshooting easier and faster. The aftersales care we received from DAVI is really appreciated,” says Kühn.