Key visual H&T ProduktionsTechnologie GmbH

Standardized press automation

A modular machine concept and precisely scalable, integrated control, motion control, and drive technology from Siemens are the key to global success at H&T ProduktionsTechnologie GmbH. Working in partnership produces UL-compliant solutions, most recently the highly efficient and precise mass production of deep-drawn metal containers for electrical energy storage devices.

Fast and efficient

To offer technically and economically optimized press/forming solutions, H&T, based in Saxony in Germany, has long relied on specialized automation components for various tasks, so that standard PLCs, safety controllers, motion controllers, converters, servo motors and HMI often came from different manufacturers.

This partly reflected customer requirements, but was also determined by product availability. The system worked fine for a long time, but became increasingly complex with the growing number of presses in the field. Spare parts, service and maintenance, training, integration into existing structures, and, not least, compliance with standards and regulations all required more time and effort. To ensure its ability to respond quickly and efficiently, the press manufacturer now exclusively equips all its plants with automation components from Siemens.

“We have always used SIMATIC controllers and, in the past few years, have also had good experience with the SIMOTION D motion control system and the SINAMCIS S120 modular converters for our highly automated servo spindle presses,” says Uwe Tarrach, Head of Electrical Engineering Design at H&T ProduktionsTechnologie. “Today, Siemens offers a broad product range, scalable in function and performance, for PLC, safety, motion control, drive, and HMI applications, making standardization and streamlining of the automation technology an obvious move.”


Custom press solutions for the global market

H&T ProduktionsTechnologie GmbH is a subsidiary of the global Heitkamp & Thumann Group.

In Crimmitschau, in Saxony, Germany, the press and system technology division develops and manufactures mechanical presses, servo spindle presses, transfer systems, servo-driven pivoting cutting tools and other automation equipment. Its main business comprises both multiple-die presses for standalone operation in single or multiple catching versions and manufacturing cells consisting of a highly productive lead press with multiple cavity dies and several downstream presses.


A high level of automation

H&T now builds all its press variants on the basis of a standardized modular concept and achieves cost optimization on both simple and complex solutions.

This covers the range from highly productive mechanical multiple-die presses for single-purpose applications to highly flexible, freely programmable (multi-)servo spindle presses with servo axes for the ram, transfer, feed, hold-down, and ejector units. This allows the company to adapt its equipment to the technical standards in different markets – for example, by replacing high-performance servo drives with simpler alternatives, or vice versa.

Streamlining and standardization also worked to help keep the skills of a relatively small automation team at a high level in a specific field of application. Obtaining everything from a single source offers considerable benefits here, such as a single contact for the entire automation technology or the use of TIA Portal (Totally Integrated Automation Portal), an engineering platform that integrates all components. That also simplifies the training of both in-house and customer employees.

For products used globally, remote maintenance is an absolute necessity. H&T’s entirely PROFINET-based automation concept enables access down to drive level, enabling full diagnostics and upgrades to be carried out remotely at any time. This assists preventive maintenance and reduces possible downtime.

Customized functionality and performance
Aiming to minimize downtimes and maximize productivity, H&T also wanted to be able to replace key components without a programming device or system knowledge: SIMOTICS servo motors, for example, save on lengthy and error-prone parameterization during both initial commissioning and following a replacement.

Standard for a number of years now, all H&T presses use the SIMOTION D motion control system with functionality and performance tailored to the respective application and the SINAMICS S120 converter system. This helps to implement tasks such as highly dynamic cam switching and precise synchronization of even distributed axis groups in an integrated and convenient manner. The freely programmable electronic coupling of axes to real and virtual control axes and the movement of axes on the basis of freely programmable, smooth motion rules enable ideal transient behavior, fast and reliable start-up, reduced life-cycle costs due to conservation of the entire mechanical transfer chain, and permanently high output, i.e. productivity, at all speeds.


World-class motion control

The automation solution from a single source is not just advantageous during plant operation; it also offers benefits for component certification in accordance with international standards and regulations.

The converters are extremely energy efficient. Every braking procedure feeds energy back into the intermediate circuit, where it is available to the entire drive train. The braking energy thus does not need to be converted into heat via braking resistors. Having fewer interfaces, harmonized with each other, also facilitates interplay and integration in existing or new production structures.

The practically consistent use of equipment from a single manufacturer simplifies design and certification to international standards and regulations: once the specifications for all products are known and the components harmonized with each other from the outset, there’s no need for complex sourcing or modification. “Our partnership with the control cabinet specialists and with Siemens sales has always been a very good and professional one,” says Michael Georgi, Project Manager at H&T ProduktionsTechnologie.

Real-world proof of this is the fully automated production of metal containers for electrical energy storage devices using the identical press lines of a customer in the United States of America. Each of these lines is made up of several presses. The first cuts circular blanks from the sheet supplied by the coil and forms them into intermediates. These are then supplied to the other presses via a storage system and given their final shape over several steps. In this mass production process, the perfect interplay of the presses and I/O devices also enables the forming of the smallest possible crosspieces  and thus maximum material utilization with the highest level of productivity and quality.

With its integrated control and drive concept, H&T persuaded other project participants to implement similar solutions, simplifying coordination and complete traceability required for the manufactured products. If problems arise, operators have fast, local support. Thanks to the largely standardized structure of the control cabinets, failure of an automation component in the first press can be compensated for in one of the cabinets for the other presses with relatively little time and effort. Stocks of spare parts can be reduced, as all H&T's peripheral units, such as the strip feeding or transfer systems, are similarly configured.

Even more convenience results from a service and maintenance agreement with Siemens that ensures maximum availability with a guaranteed response time. “The extent of advantages with each new project, has long since convinced us that we made the right decision in working with Siemens,” says Mike Gruner, Business Area Manager Press Technology at H&T.

The extent of advantages with each new project has long since convinced us that we made the right decision in working with Siemens.
Mike Gruner, Business Area Manager Press Technology, H&T ProduktionsTechnologie

Higher efficiency – thanks to perfectly customized solutions