Successful retrofit for high availability
by Hans Diederichs
For more than 20 years now, valve manufacturer Hawle has relied on a UNITOP overhead storage system by KASTO Maschinenbau to quickly and efficiently supply its production with the required raw materials. After years of intensive use, however, an increasing number of components such as drives, and control systems were no longer up to date. Downtimes were increasing and procuring spare parts was becoming more and more difficult – so Hawle decided to modernise the existing storage facility together with KASTO, to get the full benefits of a transparent and reliable supply in the future.
Automated storage system has supplied production since 1995
However, the company’s manufacturing and assembly are still located in Freilassing. This is where the valves are produced that are destined to be used in private and municipal drinking water supplies and wastewater disposal. The raw materials for the production consist mainly of steel and stainless steel pipes, which Hawle keeps in a UNITOP overhead storage system. Since 1995, the company has relied on the fully-automatic storage system from KASTO Maschinenbau to quickly and flexibly process the many different orders and to supply customers reliably and on time.
The block design of the storage facility offers 201 cassette slots, each of which has a payload of three tonnes. One of the striking features of this facility is the storage and retrieval machine (SRM), which travels on top of the storage block. This makes the UNITOP particularly compact and space-saving – and it also allows quick access to the self-supporting cassettes. All the items are recorded and stored in the warehouse software, giving Hawle a complete overview of its stocks at all times. The SRM automatically transports the required long goods to one of several unloading facilities, where employees can remove the pipes and deliver them to the next stage for processing.
Increasing expenditure for maintenance and servicing
To this day, the valve manufacturer is still highly satisfied with the overhead storage system. However, after more than 20 years in service, some signs of old age were also becoming more apparent: “Mechanically this storage facility was still perfect, but at some point, we could see that the controls and drives were no longer up to date,” reports Martin Thomaszewski, Head of Production. “This resulted in more frequent failures, and the level of system availability was reduced. Spare parts were also difficult to come by, which made servicing and maintenance increasingly difficult.” Hawle then sought advice from KASTO on how this situation could be remedied.
Together they decided to modernise the outdated storage facility, instead of completely replacing it. KASTO prepared a precise schedule in advance to avoid interrupting Hawle’s production any more than was necessary. The schedule formed the basis for optimally coordinating all the work steps – and it had to be adhered to, because the conversion was planned for completion in just six days. After the six days, the conversion was completed as agreed, and the modernised storage facility was commissioned.
Source and photo: Kasto Maschinenbau GmbH & Co. KG