Radioline wireless system saves time and money in the casting process for automotive components

Overview

Iron foundry of GF Automotive in Singen  

Smelting in the iron foundry of GF Automotive in Singen

  • As one of the world's leading suppliers, GF Automotive manufactures parts out of ferrous and light metal castings for the drives, chassis, and bodies of passenger cars and commercial vehicles.
  • The smelting process for the individual components requires oxygen, which is stored in tanks some distance away.
  • The Radioline system transmits the measured values and error messages from the oxygen tanks to the control center wirelessly, since it was not possible to lay cables.

Customer profile

Swivel bearing manufactured by GF Automotive  

Among other things, GF Automotive manufactures swivel bearings with a bionic design

The largest plant of the GF Automotive division of Georg Fischer AG is located in Singen, Germany. At this site, 1100 employees process 200,000 tonnes of iron each year to produce high-quality components.

The components made from ductile cast iron for passenger cars and commercial vehicles include trailing arms, wheel hubs, swivel bearings, steering gear and transmission housings, shift-forks, and brake calipers.

Application

Oxygen tanks at the GF Automotive plant in Singer  

The measured values are transmitted wirelessly between the oxygen tanks and the control center

For iron smelting, GF Automotive uses a long-running hot-blast cupola furnace which is filled from above with fuel, metal, and slag former (limestone). A blower injects combustion air directly into the furnace shaft via nozzles. The supply of hot air and oxygen reduces energy consumption significantly. The oxygen is blasted into the cupola furnace from tanks located some distance away. A distance of 50 to 100 meters between the oxygen tanks and the control center also needs to be covered.

Measuring probes at the tanks record the fill level, pressure, and temperature. These signals must be communicated to the control center for monitoring purposes. However, wired data transmission was ruled out because the conveyors that supply the coal could not be dismantled. The original plan of using a local controller at the tank storage and connecting it to the control center via an Ethernet cable simply could not be implemented.

Solution

Radioline wireless system  

The Radioline system can be easily adapted to the relevant requirements

“Due to the complexity and expense that cable installation would have involved, we chose a wireless-based solution based on the Radioline system from Phoenix Contact,” explains Dirk Jänchen, Head of Central Technology at GF Automotive. Using the flexible wireless solution, serial data can also be transmitted in addition to I/O signals – without requiring a license, so there are no extra costs. The modules, which use robust Trusted Wireless 2.0 technology as the basis for transmission, were specifically developed for signal exchange over long distances. With a clear line of sight, distances ranging from several hundred meters up to five kilometers can be covered between two wireless devices. “By using Radioline, all measured values can now be continuously recorded, which means that we can identify any failures at an early stage and take corrective action immediately,” adds Jänchen.

The wireless system is installed and started up via thumbwheels. I/O mapping distributes the signals from up to 250 stations without any software support. To do this, the user just needs to set the Radioline devices that are to communicate with one another to the same number using the thumbwheel. Depending on the application requirements, any type of network structure, from a simple point-to-point connection to a self-healing mesh network, can be configured using the wireless system. This means that direct integration of I/O modules into a Modbus RTU controller is possible in addition to I/O transmission and replacing serial cabling. Furthermore, the data rate of the wireless interface can be specified on an individual basis, thereby increasing receiver sensitivity. Much longer distances can be covered with a low data rate than with a high transmission speed. Trusted Wireless 2.0 also features good diagnostic options and coexists with other systems transmitting in the same frequency band.

Summary

For over a decade, Phoenix Contact's portfolio has included wireless solutions. One of the most recent developments is the Radioline system, which consists of a wireless module and seven I/O modules that can be aligned in a variety of ways. The individual I/O stations can be extended by up to 32 I/O modules, which can be installed or replaced during operation. In addition to their hot-swap capability, the wireless components feature high-quality channel-to-channel electrical isolation. “We've saved a lot of time and money by using the Radioline system,” concludes Dirk Jänchen. Based on this positive experience, GF Automotive plans to continue using wireless systems from Phoenix Contact in the future.

PHOENIX CONTACT PTY Ltd

Unit 7, 2-8 South Street
Rydalmere NSW 2116

Fax: 1300 723 399
Customer Service Hotline
1300 786 411

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