Aluminum Preshredder Saves Time and Space

A specially developed system has made scrap collection and handling safer and more efficient for BMW’s aluminum foundry

BMW Group operates one of the more efficient aluminum foundries in the world at Landshut, Germany, and after a recent updating it’s even more so. The operation was designed to remelt all scrap metal (punch waste, sprues), first collecting the material in containers in what had been largely a manual process — one demanding considerable manpower.

The automaker developed the operation to cast about 5 million parts per year, including light-metal engine parts and structural components. Different casting processes are in place, but the total volume of metal cast is estimated at 84,000 metric tons/year.

As is typical now for high-volume automotive industry operations, there is exceptional emphasis on process efficiency at Landshut, where the focus on productivity and efficiency has been in place from the earliest design stage, to keep scrap rates as low as possible.

In the past, all the scrap that occurred regularly in the melting, pouring, and molding processes was collected in containers without being shredded and then returned to the melting process. The cast aluminum parts had dimensions up to 2,000x1,400 mm, meaning it occupied a lot of space in collection containers, and that the containers had to be emptied frequently as a result. In turn, this required a lot of production time and manpower.

During a recent round of facility remodeling at BMW Landshut, during which each of the casting cells was replaced in turn, the recycling process was optimized too.

A German scrap-handling machinery manufacturer, Erdwich Zerkleinerungs-Systeme GmbH, took BMW’s contract assignment to plan and commission a new metal shredder for the foundry. “When we visited the site, it quickly became clear that the solution required in the tender would not have the desired effect,” according to Erdwich project manager Richard Adelwarth. “We therefore carried out many trials and consulted another company in the industry, with whom we work regularly on larger projects in order, to be able to offer an optimal solution.”

The final design submitted by Erdwich involved its RM 1350 pre-shredder. According to the developer, this machine is characterized by fast and easy maintenance, long service life, optimal shredding performance, and high throughput. To date, seven systems with soundproof enclosures have been installed for the Landshut foundry’s eight casting cells and punch presses.

“Loading takes place in free fall, which means that the molds that are to be returned to the melting process now fall from the pressing plant directly into the hopper of the pre-shredder, and then into a container measuring 1,400x1,400x900 mm,” according to Adelwarth. When the container is full, it is transported outside, emptied into a larger container, and this in turn is brought to the smelter.

The shredding process has reduced the volume of cast parts by 50 to 60%, Erdwich noted, which means that the disposal containers have to be emptied less frequently and thus require less time and manpower.

The pre-shredders were adapted to the special conditions of the BMW site. For example, the drives of the machines had to be mounted on one side instead of two, as usual. The reason for this was the columns of the building are located at the pre-shredder installation site, thereby calling for a narrower design. In addition, the crushing tools themselves and their arrangement within the cutting chamber were adapted to the local conditions.

In addition, the standard version of the RM 1350 already has a safety system that includes a PLC control system with automatic reverse and cut-out control, so that the machine is protected from damage in the event of overload or bulky solid parts. Also, each shaft is equipped with an energy-optimized frequency converter, which ensures that the two cutting gear shafts are driven separately. This optimizes the adaptation to the shredding process.

Working with the BMW plant engineering team, the safety system was augmented with new features. “Both the filling level of the removal box located in the basement and the monitoring of the shredder itself now are displayed transparently, so that a quick response can be made if necessary,” Adelwarth explained.

Once all casting cells were replaced at BMW Landshut a conveyor belt system was installed, in order to optimize the scrap-disposal process even further. As such, the shredded rejects would no longer to be collected in containers that have to be removed and emptied by hand. Now, the rejects are transported directly into the large container via a conveyor belt. In this way, scrap products and punching waste from all casting cells can be disposed of simultaneously and without additional logistical effort.

BMW Group operates one of the more efficient aluminum foundries in the world at Landshut, Germany, and after a recent updating it’s even more so. The operation was designed to remelt all scrap metal (punch waste, sprues), first collecting the material in containers in what had been largely a manual process — one demanding considerable manpower.

The automaker developed the operation to cast about 5 million parts per year, including light-metal engine parts and structural components. Different casting processes are in place, but the total volume of metal cast is estimated at 84,000 metric tons/year.

As is typical now for high-volume automotive industry operations, there is exceptional emphasis on process efficiency at Landshut, where the focus on productivity and efficiency has been in place from the earliest design stage, to keep scrap rates as low as possible.

In the past, all the scrap that occurred regularly in the melting, pouring, and molding processes was collected in containers without being shredded and then returned to the melting process. The cast aluminum parts had dimensions up to 2,000x1,400 mm, meaning it occupied a lot of space in collection containers, and that the containers had to be emptied frequently as a result. In turn, this required a lot of production time and manpower.

During a recent round of facility remodeling at BMW Landshut, during which each of the casting cells was replaced in turn, the recycling process was optimized too.

A German scrap-handling machinery manufacturer, Erdwich Zerkleinerungs-Systeme GmbH, took BMW’s contract assignment to plan and commission a new metal shredder for the foundry. “When we visited the site, it quickly became clear that the solution required in the tender would not have the desired effect,” according to Erdwich project manager Richard Adelwarth. “We therefore carried out many trials and consulted another company in the industry, with whom we work regularly on larger projects in order, to be able to offer an optimal solution.”

The final design submitted by Erdwich involved its RM 1350 pre-shredder. According to the developer, this machine is characterized by fast and easy maintenance, long service life, optimal shredding performance, and high throughput. To date, seven systems with soundproof enclosures have been installed for the Landshut foundry’s eight casting cells and punch presses.

“Loading takes place in free fall, which means that the molds that are to be returned to the melting process now fall from the pressing plant directly into the hopper of the pre-shredder, and then into a container measuring 1,400x1,400x900 mm,” according to Adelwarth. When the container is full, it is transported outside, emptied into a larger container, and this in turn is brought to the smelter.

The shredding process has reduced the volume of cast parts by 50 to 60%, Erdwich noted, which means that the disposal containers have to be emptied less frequently and thus require less time and manpower.

The pre-shredders were adapted to the special conditions of the BMW site. For example, the drives of the machines had to be mounted on one side instead of two, as usual. The reason for this was the columns of the building are located at the pre-shredder installation site, thereby calling for a narrower design. In addition, the crushing tools themselves and their arrangement within the cutting chamber were adapted to the local conditions.

In addition, the standard version of the RM 1350 already has a safety system that includes a PLC control system with automatic reverse and cut-out control, so that the machine is protected from damage in the event of overload or bulky solid parts. Also, each shaft is equipped with an energy-optimized frequency converter, which ensures that the two cutting gear shafts are driven separately. This optimizes the adaptation to the shredding process.

Working with the BMW plant engineering team, the safety system was augmented with new features. “Both the filling level of the removal box located in the basement and the monitoring of the shredder itself now are displayed transparently, so that a quick response can be made if necessary,” Adelwarth explained.

Once all casting cells were replaced at BMW Landshut a conveyor belt system was installed, in order to optimize the scrap-disposal process even further. As such, the shredded rejects would no longer to be collected in containers that have to be removed and emptied by hand. Now, the rejects are transported directly into the large container via a conveyor belt. In this way, scrap products and punching waste from all casting cells can be disposed of simultaneously and without additional logistical effort. 

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