Beakbane covers resist molten steel

Kidderminster-based bellows and machine protection specialist Beakbane has supplied special folding covers, capable of withstanding splashes of molten steel, to the newly revitalised Redcar iron and steel plant.

Having been mothballed for two years by former owner Tata Steel, the key assets of the plant were acquired by the Thai company Sahaviraya Steel Industries (SSI), which set about bringing the blast furnace, steelmaking plant and continuous casting line back into production.

Now back in full swing, primarily producing steel slab to be exported to Thailand to be rolled into coil for the automotive and white goods industries, the revival of the plant has had a major positive impact on Redcar and the surrounding area.

The covers supplied by Beakbane are used on the continuous casting line – where molten steel is poured into special cooled moulds to produce a continuous strip of solid steel. They perform a critical role protecting the lifting mechanism on the tundish car that helps control the flow of molten steel from the ladle to the tundish – a holding vessel which ensures a steady flow of molten steel into the mould.

The covers have to be able to withstand splashes of molten steel at 1,600°C as well as the tough environment of a heavy process plant. Beakbane worked with the previous owners of the plant to design a special design of folding cover using a heatproof aluminised glass cloth and incorporating a steel scissor control mechanism to ensure that it could move freely with the tundish car.

When SSI bought the continuous caster out of mothballs and back into production it needed to be fully refurbished, so it turned to Beakbane to supply ten new covers for the line.

Peter Noteyoung , Plant Engineer at the Continuous Casting Plant said: “Beakbane gave us a quality and prompt service at a time when deadlines were critical. At SSI we would not hesitate to use the company again.”

Beakane managing director Mike Southwell added: “We are delighted to have been able to play a part in bringing iron and steelmaking back to Redcar – which has given the Teesside economy such a boost.

“Not all of our projects require us to come up with a solution that can resist molten metal. We are more often protecting delicate machinery from debris, rail locomotives from flying ballast or machine tool drives from coolant and metal chips. I think that this project underlines our ability to apply our manufacturing strengths and technological know-how to provide a bespoke product to suit any customer’s specific requirements.”

Sticklebacks Communications

High-performance 5-axis horizontal innovation
Handtmann CNC has launched an innovative high-performance 5-axis horizontal machining centre, the HBZ Trunnion 80, which it says can increase productivity by up to 30%.
The machine draws on Handtmann’s experience in the aerospace sector to bring together in one machine some of the most productive approaches to high-performance machining. The machine is not just aimed at the aerospace sector, but also customers in areas such as automotive manufacturing, mould and die making, energy, power generation, and machine construction.
Available through Handtmann CNC UK, part of the Engineering Technology Group, the HBZ Trunnion combines high-power, high-speed spindles, highly dynamic performance and a compact single-piece rigid structure with a horizontal machine’s capacity for high metal removal rates and optimum chip management.
Operating at speeds not normally associated with a horizontal machining centre, the HBZ combines a three-axis horizontal spindle with an NC swivel rotary table. This allows components to be loaded in the horizontal plane from the front or top of the machine. The component then swivels into the vertical position for machining, allowing all swarf and coolant to simply fall away, with five sides machined in one setup. With no chip build-up or removal problems, the horizontal machining position ensures improved surface quality, better tool life and minimal heat build-up, ensuring thermal stability and consistent accuracy.
The machine configuration also allows the HBZ Trunnion to be offered with a full multi-axis turning option.
The HBZ Trunnion 80 features an 800mm diameter NC swivel table and X-, Y- and Z-axis travels of 850mm, 850mm and 700mm respectively. Maximum table load is 1,200kg.
A range of spindles is available to suit a variety of applications and materials – including steel, aluminium, titanium and composites. Spindle powers range from 14kW up to 81kW, with maximum spindle speeds from 18,000 rpm up to 30,000 rpm and torque from 31Nm to 200Nm.
This spindle power is delivered through a highly dynamic design that combines a rigid, single-piece ‘Power Cube’ machine frame with precise high-speed axis drives. Designed using finite element methods, the machine is extremely compact for its machining power and only needs a three-point floor mounting with no special foundations.
X-, Y- and Z-axis travels of 45m/min and 0.6g accelerations are combined with 35rpm A and C swivel table axes. A dynamic package option takes the linear axis speeds up to 60m/min with accelerations of 1.0g.
To cope with extreme rates of metal removal, the chip conveyor system is designed to transport up to 15 litres of aluminium swarf per minute out of the machining zone.
The HBZ Trunnion range is designed to offer a flexible range of options for automation and cell configuration. The fast pallet change system is available for maximum uptime and the possibility of top and front loading offers optimum access for automated handling systems. The three-point floor mounting allows the machine to be easily moved for cell configuration and the chip conveyor direction is reversible.
This flexibility is complemented by a modular tool management concept, with HSK 63A toolholder options ranging from the standard 40-slot chain magazine to a 60-slot chain magazine or a rack-type magazine capable of holding hundreds of tools. Chip-to-chip tool change time is 3 seconds.
Launched at the AMB exhibition in Stuttgart, the HBZ Trunnion 80 is the most compact machine in the HBZ Trunnion range. Larger machines in the range are the HBZ Trunnion 120 and the HBZ Trunnion 160, which feature 1200mm and 1600mm diameter NC-swivel tables and spindle powers up to 125kW.

Sticklebacks Communications

Beakbane creates new manufacturing facility
Kidderminster-based bellows and machinery protection specialist Beakbane has taken on an additional 16,000 sq ft unit to create a new facility that brings the manufacture of all its flexible and composite products under one roof. Along with investments in capital plant and process equipment, this will allow the company to create an optimum work flow and better opportunities for efficiency.
This has gone hand in hand with major training programmes to ensure that the company has the skills it needs to make full use of these investments and remain at the head of its field.
Roy Legg, Manufacturing Manager, says: “Beakbane recognises the value its workforce contributes to the business and the need for continued personal development of its employees. Beakbane has therefore aimed to enhance the capabilities of its employees to complement its overall investment to ensure future growth within the business.”
This strategy is underpinned by the company’s apprenticeship scheme, with four apprentices successfully completing their training within the last two years and three more currently undergoing training.
Currently, Worcester Group Training Association is helping with the company’s succession planning requirements by training two members of staff towards achieving the Institute of Leadership and Management Level 3 NVQ in Team Leading.
Beakbane is also working with Track Training to take 34 employees towards NVQ Level 2 in Business Improvement Techniques, including the quality tool FMEA (Failure Mode and Effect Analysis).
Roy Legg adds: “The company understands that to be successful it is important to train its employees in the use of modern manufacturing techniques to maximise its investment in plant and equipment.”
To achieve this aim, the company has called on Capella Associates to provide personal development for 10 employees in FMEA and 8D problem-solving techniques to drive forward its commitment to deliver quality products and services to existing and new customers. Capella Associates will also provide Six Sigma training to help the company add more value to the business as part of its future strategy.