The areas that induction heating can be implemented are vast, and generally implemented wherever materials and components are heated. Whether it’s brazing processes on copper, aluminum, and brass profiles (or similar materials), efficient surface hardening on things like pressing tools and gears, or precise heating of stator frames prior to joining the stator – the process always showcases its strengths. For example, only the desired area is heated to the precisely defined temperature. Energy efficiency is improved with this process because less energy needs to be transferred to the part during heating, and discharged from it during cooling. The process is also perfectly reproducible because the amount of energy required is very precisely defined.
The generators that EMAG’s subsidiary eldec, headquartered in Dornstetten near Freudenstadt in Germany, have produced for over 30 years have a very important role as an energy source for induction. These are often models from the proven ECO LINE generator series. The series provides flexibility in configuration with a continuous power rating ranging from 5 to 150 kW (MF version) or 5 to 75 kW (HF version), it is virtually maintenance-free and features single or multiple outputs, as desired. With this, it can be fit into any environment, and will require very little space. “These particular strengths of the ECO LINE will obviously still apply in the future,” says Stefan Tzschupke, Head of Business Development Generators at EMAG eldec. “However, we are now taking a decisive step in development with the ECO LINE EEi², since the new generation’s operation is much more intuitive—comparable to a smartphone. Additionally, we’re also integrating a Siemens PLC in the ECO LINE series for the first time to enable easier connection to higher-level systems. Last but not least, we’re integrating an entire optional bundle of eldec quality control modules that fully monitor and document the induction process as is expected from an industry 4.0 solution. In summary, one could say that we’re driving the ECO LINE into the future.”
Controlling it all like an app
The most noticeable change with these developments is obviously the new touchscreen display that lends this series its name. It displays the main parameters of the induction process, such as power, frequency, current, voltage, and temperature, with clear bar charts and percentage values. All needed data can be acquired with just a glance. Menu items along the sides give users access to setup options and additional information. For instance, there are eight different timers, each with running times ranging from 0.1 to 9,999 seconds, and storage space for managing up to 500 recipes. “We made a deliberate choice to make the interface for this software look like a smartphone app since everyone is familiar with them by now. Consequently, the operation of these generators has been drastically simplified, which in turn benefits process reliability when running as a standalone process,” emphasizes Tzschupke.
Siemens control unit makes integration easy
The South German induction specialists also kept integration into production systems in their minds—this has always been of particular importance for the ECO LINE. The robust devices can be customized for very different applications. Users benefit from short-circuit-proof transistor technology, precisely controlled application of energy, and high efficiency. At EMAG eldec, all generators are produced to order: The core component of the generator, the resonant circuit, is specifically designed for the customer’s process. The specialists are thus able to guarantee that the process is configured for optimal operation and runs as efficiently as possible—which is tremendously important for the overall production system. “In the end, we only deliver optimally configured devices that have been tested on the component. This wins over many customers,” adds Tzschupke. “This also explains why, for the ECO LINE EEi², we are using Siemens programmable logic controller for the first time: Many customers, for instance in the machinery industry, also use Siemens solutions for their overall control system. The integration of the ECO LINE EEi² thus becomes a much easier process.”
eQC: perfect process monitoring
A third innovation in the EEi² series, compared to previous ECO LINE devices, is the optional integration of eQC. The individual solutions build on and complement one another, and together, they guarantee customers an extensively monitored hardening and heat treatment process. This includes the eQC Flux and eQC RFID modules, for example. The former is used to measure the actual voltage at the base of the inductor. This is an ideal measuring point, because tool and component geometry as well as other factors influence the magnetic flux, which can be measured at the base of the inductor. eQC Flux thus provides much better information about the amount of energy that actually “reaches” the tool. For instance, this helps to detect whether the component has not been positioned correctly or if the inductor is damaged. This data can also be used to very precisely monitor component heating. The eQC RFID solution equips the tool with an RFID chip that is read using a read-write unit before production starts. The machine subsequently not only “knows” whether the right inductor has been used, but also the tool status and any manufacturing tolerances.
“As a whole, we’ve put together a particularly powerful and future-proof package with the ECO LINE EEi²,” concludes Stefan Tzschupke. “Users benefit from high efficiency, stable processes, robust technology, and simple usability. We’re convinced that this level of quality will win out in the marketplace.”