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eldec technology in the machinery industry: Standardized high-performance generators for excellent mechanical engineering solutions

Which behavior patterns are crucial to the success of the German machinery sector? Two years ago, the study "The future of German mechanical engineering" by the VDMA and McKinsey consultants provided a wide variety of answers to this question. More than 70 percent of interviewed companies pointed to the development of customer-specific systems and integration solutions as a primary factor to success —a field in which EMAG Automation has been active for many years. The company has been developing comprehensive, perfectly adapted production solutions for the automotive industry that focus, on laser welding and thermal joining technologies, among other things. Frequently included as part of the package are eldec generators, which are used as energy sources for induction heating, a critical subprocess in joining and laser welding. The reliability and performance of these generators plays an important part in the success of EMAG Automation. The eldec product range is another major factor: For each configuration, there is a matching generator—a key prerequisite for increasingly important customer-specific solutions.

Gears, differential cases, camshafts and similar engine components are rarely produced with standard mechanical engineering solutions anymore. On the contrary: The degree of customization in mechanical engineering is increasing rapidly. Customers demand highly specialized, comprehensive production solutions that should ideally be able to process a task in a "one-piece flow". All process steps, from cleaning the initial components to checking the final product, need to be integrated and adapted to the specific requirements of the component. This task calls for mechanical engineering specialists with profound knowledge and extensive experience regarding each component. With this in mind, the positioning of EMAG Automation makes even more sense: The company specializes, among other areas, in the laser machining of key transmission components and offers its customers comprehensive services in project planning and execution. The resulting production solutions guarantee huge increases in productivity. Take gears, for example: Through the automated EMAG ELC systems, they can be machined in ten seconds or less. The machine is loaded automatically, and the components are press-fitted, preheated by induction to approx. 170 °C, and welded by laser. Inductive preheating ensures that even critical materials with increased carbon equivalent or components with unfavorable geometries can be welded in a controlled manner, without any cracks. The eldec generator used in the process is crucial for creating a precise and reproducible heating. On one hand, it ensures that the required preheating temperature is reached. On the other, it prevents overheating that would lead to unacceptable changes in microstructure.

Why do the experts at EMAG Automation choose eldec solutions for designing comprehensive systems? "To start with, we are satisfied with the development state of the technology," explains Dr. Andreas Mootz, managing director of EMAG Automation. "The generators have very advanced power electronics and control systems. This makes them easy to integrate in our machines or to configure for custom applications The technology is also very reliable."—This assessment matches eldec's own claims. Production of the devices involves elaborate manufacturing processes. Before delivery, they are thoroughly tested. The resonant circuit and a large proportion of the components are manufactured in-house in order to satisfy the self-imposed demands with regard to high power density. Since all the generators have to meet the most stringent quality requirements, they include a tried and tested, rugged inverter system. In combination with the precisely tuned control technology, this results in an extremely reliable, energy-efficient product. "These are important quality factors for every customer in mechanical engineering," says Stefan Tzschupke, Head of Business Development Generators at eldec. "We design virtually maintenance-free products that quietly do their job inside a machine. Over decades, their reliability and efficiency have been continually improved. The result is a perfectly adapted high-performance component."

Always the right generator solution
Machine builders like EMAG Automation in particular benefit a great deal from eldec’s wide range of products. Globally speaking, their specialists offer low-frequency, medium-frequency and high-frequency generators from 5 to 1,500 kW as well as DF and SDF® generators from 50 to 3,000 kW. However, only medium-frequency generators (MFG) are used in the EMAG Automation machines. "The wide range of eldec products makes it easy for us to find the perfect energy source for the inductive heating process in the machine," Dr. Mootz explains. “In addition, our cooperation couldn't be more straightforward. Basically, we can pick our order from their catalog with full confidence that we'll get a perfectly working solution." Applications with multiple outputs are a good example to illustrate the importance of perfect matching. eldec generators are available with two to eight outputs whose power can be controlled either independently or simultaneously. "It frequently happens that we need two inductors for heating, due to different workpiece geometries. In such a case, it’s of course a great advantage if only a single generator is needed, in terms of installation space within the machine, internal cabling, and control systems," adds Dr. Mootz.

Industry in focus at eldec
The cooperation between EMAG Automation and eldec goes back five years and is continuously expanding. Today, EMAG specialists only use the compact MFG generators by eldec as energy sources for heating in their joining and laser welding machines. The same applies to the corresponding inductors, which are also developed and built by eldec. For the eldec induction specialists, this is an exemplary success story because the machinery industry is such an important market for the company. They often support their contacts in the early project stages so as to identify the best induction solution for the planned machine. The end result is a rugged, perfectly matched and energy-efficient solution that covers the energy source, inductor, and cooling system. “On request, we also provide process development for our customers. For example, we will supply the generators for EMAG Automation with preset programs in future," explains Stefan Tzschupke. “To do so, we will need to put the entire system into operation at the eldec premises—including the generator, inductor, and customer component. By providing this service, we ensure that this increasingly complex process will be kept as short as possible after integration at our customers. Our induction expertise and empirical values will benefit every machinery manufacturer."