Mikrosam unveils new automation capabilities
September 05, 2019 - Macedonia
Mikrosam has unveiled new automation capabilities for filament winding of compressed hydrogen and compressed natural gas tanks with a contract to deliver one of the largest production lines for the automotive industry. The complete line will include Mikrosam’s multi-spindle filament winding (FW) machines integrated with new innovative automation units.
The line will produce more than 60,000 tanks annually. The contract with JSC DPO Plastic is a result of a two-year intensive competitive design and bidding process.
Mikrosam will deliver to JSC DPO Plastik the latest and most advanced multi-spindle FW machines for wet and tow-preg winding featuring innovations for very fast and precise winding of glass and carbon fibres. These multi-spindle machines are designed to build various tanks between 40L and 350L capacity for storage of CNG and CHG. In addition to Mikrosam's patented automated cut and restart system, double-drive carriage for high speed, and high precision tow-preg winding, the FW equipment features a unique original shaft design for pressure vessels. This system allows for programmed and continuous control of pressure inside the tank liners during each layer of winding. Additionally, during wet winding the resin mixing, delivery to resin bath, and resin deposition on fibres is finely controlled. Together these features ensure not only very fast, but also consistently very high quality of winding with optimal material usage for each produced tank.
Mikrosam's engineering extended the ability to easily scale production via integration of multiple FW units, while ensuring high quality yields of the complete line. To achieve high scale and maximise equipment utilisation, there's a sophisticated dynamic load-balancing system which ensures simultaneous winding of 4 or more multi-spindle FW machines. This dynamic load balancing provides higher overall utilisation than simply having many FW machines on the floor.
The automation of the multiple FW machines is enhanced with equipment designed by Mikrosam - liner preparation station, visual inspection and buffer station, automated resin mixing and delivery system, continuous curing oven, multi-robot handling system, cylinder drop-off station, and cylinder preparation station for testing purposes
All units are fully integrated with a robot-based handling system and a Top-Level Control System (TCON). The robot-based handling units control and measure the weight of the tanks at each stage of the process - from plastic liner to post-curing. The TCON system – state-of-the-art software developed by Mikrosam – collects details of process parameters at each step of production in a data warehouse even collecting data from 3rd party auxiliary equipment. The software integrates the data into the factory ERP to ensure traceability and quality improvement while giving customers unlimited reporting capabilities.
The growing demand in global markets for CNG and CHG, including automotive, transportation, energy store and future fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEV) is pushing the need for cost-efficient and productive solutions with high ROI. The trend allows customers to increase use of advanced composite manufacturing methods to meet such needs. This large-scale automated line follows Mikrosam's delivery earlier this year of a very advanced and cost-competitive solution for fast tow-preg winding of hydrogen tanks for a top Tier 1 Japanese automotive supplier.
"After reviewing many competing offers, we are very happy to select Mikrosam as the best and most reliable supplier with proven productivity track record offering highest ROI on such scale. Additional plus is that Mikrosam has excellent relationships with 3rd parties whose equipment will be integrated. Our estimations show such integration can achieve lowest total cycle-time with maximum quality level, not just on FW equipment but on the complete production line," stated Irina Shevtsova, chairman, Board of Directors of JSC DPO Plastik.
"Many customers come back to Mikrosam not just for our advanced composites competence, but for our relentless focus on providing solutions to their market goals. After delivering several automated lines, each with something new, Mikrosam has become de-facto reference in FW automation. This new line with so many new innovative units speaks to our leadership in composite manufacturing automation for growing new markets,” said Dimitar Bogdanoski, sales manager at Mikrosam DOO. (SV)