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Construction & Commissioning

Cast in concrete
Innovative vibration damping on truck-mounted concrete pumps with strain sensors

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Construction & Commissioning, Pumps & Compressors
Source: Baumer Electric

The trend on truck-mounted concrete pumps is for greater reach with less weight. Technical advances at Schwing are currently making it one of the market leaders in this field. In order to raise operator comfort levels on truck-mounted concrete pumps with large booms, the company has launched an innovative vibration damping system. Schwing, in partnership with Baumer Electric AG, has developed a new strain sensor with an IP69K protection rating and an exceptionally broad measuring range to provide precise signaling of deflections as they occur in the boom.

Since its formation in the 1930s, the German group of companies has been designing, constructing and selling pumps, machines and plant equipment for the production, transport and reprocessing of concrete: batching plants, truck-mixers, stationary and truck-mounted concrete pumps as well as recycling plants. Whether concreting a swimming pool in the front garden of a family home or realizing prestigious public projects such as the One World Trade Center in New York, USA, or the third Bosporus bridge in Turkey, the machines and plant are deployed wherever concrete is used to provide permanent stability. With six manufacturing sites and subsidiaries or representatives in more than 100 countries, the company provides efficient, reliable and long-term solutions throughout the world. Extensive in-house production capacity for core components guarantees strict inspection processes and high product quality.

Truck-mounted concrete pumps of various sizes and types are manufactured at sites in Herne (Germany), Chennai (India), and Sao Paulo (Brazil). The models with the longest placing booms are manufactured at the SCHWING Group’s German headquarters. With a new boom drive concept, high-strength steel, less weight, and more operator comfort, they are Schwing’s answer to the market’s increasing demands in terms of economics, ecology and ergonomics.

Tough construction site conditions

Source: Baumer Electric

Modern placing booms have a reach of almost 65 meters. With highly efficient twin cylinder piston pumps and a pressure of up to 85 bar, they pump concrete at up to 164 m3 per hour. This obviously causes vibrations in the boom. In order to be able to offer end users improved operator comfort at the end hose, Schwing has developed an innovative vibration damping concept which has included a complete revision of the hydraulic elements. A precision transducer was required which could pick up the elongations from the signal boom caused by movement of the whole placing boom, and which would then transmit the command variables for the vibration damping. A force sensor would have to be mechanically built into the direct flow of forces from the arm and then exactly matched to the machine geometry. It was possible to significantly reduce the development effort by absorbing the movement over the elongation. The effect of a force always produces elongations in a mechanical structure. These elongations depend on the geometry of the structure to be measured and the modulus of elasticity.

Customer-specific solution

“We developed a customer-specific, innovative strain sensor in close collaboration with Baumer Electric AG which comfortably overcomes all the challenges,” explains Reiner Vierkotten, Senior Engineer Control Systems at SCHWING GmbH. “The new high-strength steels we have used allow the mechanical stresses and elongations to take place in higher areas than in previously used materials. Conventional strain sensors cannot operate in these areas.”
A completely new set of sensor mechanics was developed using FEM simulations with a measuring range of ±2000 µm/m. The easy-to-mount sensor with long-term seal functions perfectly in multi-shift operation in spite of the tough conditions on building sites. It is calibrated at the factory which speeds up installation and any possible replacement work. The new sensor, with its on-board electronics, supplies a high-resolution digital CANopen signal directly to the truck-mounted concrete pump’s control system.

Compared to force sensors, which have to be precisely adjusted to the machine geometry, the strain sensor can be easily mounted at the optimum position with just two bolts. This does not affect the structure of the machine, save times in development and makes mounting easy. The robust design of the sensor makes it impervious to shocks, impacts, and other mechanical influences and is therefore ideal for use in the construction environment. At the same time, it is very gentle, reacts quickly, and can accurately detect even the slightest elongation or compression. It is resistant to wind and weather due to its a corrosion-resistant housing. With a certificated protection class of IP69K, its seal is absolutely guaranteed and can be cleaned with high-pressure or steam cleaning systems.

“We are very pleased with our collaboration,” confirms Vierkotten. “The innovative damping system is also available for the latest S 65 SXF truck-mounted concrete pump from SCHWING which was launched at the beginning of 2018 at the World of Concrete trade fair in Las Vegas. Following comprehensive prototype testing and optimization during the development phases, the new DST55R strain sensor was successfully put into volume production by Baumer. We can imagine using Baumer sensors for future projects on our truck-mounted concrete pumps.”

Construction & Commissioning Food & Beverage

Krones in 2017
Growth with stable profitability

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Picture: Krones

Krones, manufacturer of filling and packaging technology, continued its stable growth in 2017. Revenue increased 8.8% year-on-year from €3,391 million to €3,691 million. Adjusted for acquisitions, revenue was up 7.2% year-on-year. The main reason was that the company was able to invoice more projects than expected in the fourth quarter. Order intake was up 10.0% year-on-year to €3,787 million in 2017. Adjusted for acquisitions, the increase was 7.1%. At the end of 2017, the company had orders on hand totalling €1,240 million, which is 8.3% more than the previous year.

The company broad international diversification and comprehensive portfolio of products and services also served the company well in 2017.

The EBT margin was stable at 7.0%

Krones further increased earnings before taxes (EBT) as forecast in 2017. EBT improved 8.9% year-on-year to €259 million. The EBT margin remained stable at 7.0%, as in the year-earlier period. Thus, the company met its EBT margin target for 2017. As expected, market prices provided no support. The firm was able to offset increased costs with increased efficiency. Expanding our global footprint and general cost-cutting measures helped here.

Robust financial and capital structure

The ratio of average working capital for the past four quarters to revenue was up from 26.7% in the previous year to 27.3% in 2017. The target for 2017 was 27%. The company is not satisfied with the development of free cash flow, which decreased to –€151 million (2016: +€49 million). As a result, net cash and cash equivalents (that is, cash and cash equivalents less liabilities to banks) decreased to €157 million (previous year: €369 million). The company’s equity ratio improved to 43.8% (previous year: 39.9%). Overall, Krones continues to possess a very robust financial and capital structure.

All figures stated here are provisional and may change following completion of the audit.

Outlook

Based on the current macroeconomic prospects and developments in the markets relevant to Krones, the company expects consolidated revenue to grow by 6% in 2018. Profitability is expected to remain stable despite investment in digitalisation and start-up costs associated with expanding the company’s global footprint, in particular for the new site in Hungary. The firm expects to post an EBT margin of  7.0% in 2018. The company’s third financial performance target, working capital to revenue, is expected to improve to 26%.

Krones will publish its annual report for 2017 on 15 March 2018.

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Construction & Commissioning Mechanical & Thermal Processes Plant Construction, Engineering & Components

Healthy Energy Mix
University’s energy supply concept modernized

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The basic supply of electricity and gas to the economy is one of the pillars of the Energy Industry Act. However, the safe and reliable supply of energy is even more essential in the medical sector. Both electricity and heat can save lives here. In order to ensure this security of supply in the future, the University of Göttingen (UMG) and the University of Göttingen have jointly initiated an innovative energy supply concept. The central component is a 4.5 megawatt CHP unit from ETW Energietechnik in Moers.

A modern, decentralised energy and heat supply will bring production closer to consumers in the future. For this purpose, three large cogeneration units were implemented: one at the university hospital and two at the university.

50 percent of the electricity requirement

At the end of September 2017, the „heart“ of the new combined heat and power plant of UMG, a gas engine with generator, was delivered. A heavy-duty crane lifted the 53- ton unit into the new building. The engine and generator alone account for around one million euros. Since the end of 2017, the first of the three power plants has now been supplying about half of the electricity required and the basic heat requirement of the university hospital. The 4.5 megawatt cogeneration plant was developed and supplied by ETW Energietechnik, the Moers-based specialist for power plants. It contributes around 50 percent to the electricity requirements of the University Hospital Göttingen. The total efficiency of the energy utilisation, electricity and heat output, amounts to about 90 percent.

Contribution to climate protection

The state of Lower Saxony will bear the costs of around 4.7 million euros from the August 2014 „Rehabilitation Programme for University Medicine of Lower Saxony“, but the investment will not only save energy costs; security of supply and the saving of 6,500 tons of carbon dioxide per year will also make an important contribution to climate protection.

Security of supply elementary core component

Security of supply in particular is a key element of the new energy concept. The University Medical School Göttingen (UMG) as a clinic of maximum care has an annual heat energy requirement of more than 33,000 private households. For this purpose, the waste heat from the engine and the hot exhaust gases are decoupled and used for their own use. UMG relies on a cogeneration plant for the generation of heat and electricity, which generates energy particularly efficiently with continuous heat output. It has a heat output of 4.75 megawatts and has a 33-meter-high chimney stack.

Base load of heat supply

Delivery of the 53 tonne MWM engine for ETW Energietechnik‘s cogeneration
plant. With an electrical output of 4.5 megawatts, about half of the total power required by the university hospital is generated. (Source: ETW Energietechnik)

Since January 2018, around half of the electricity required in the university hospital has been produced, thus covering the basic load of heat supply for the hospital. The heat is mainly used to heat the drinking water and for the room heating of the central hospital building. The energy-efficient plant technology of the CHP reduces the consumption of resources and reduces environmental pollution and emissions. „The new combined heat and power plant is thus an important contribution and a good example of the integration of biogas into sustainable and modern energy supply concepts“, summarizes Dr. Oliver Jende from the sales department of ETW Energietechnik.

Power generation close to main consumers

The two subfoundations University Medicine Göttingen (UMG) and the University of Göttingen coordinate their joint „energy policy“ and founded the Universitätsenergie Göttingen in 2009. Their goal: Both partners want to use the energy required for the foundation university efficiently, in an environmentally friendly and cost-effective manner. The core of the energy supply concept is to bring power generation close to the main consumers in order to minimise transmission losses.

The UMG has an annual electricity requirement of about 57,000 MW-hours of electricity and about 100,000 MW-hours of heat, the university of 50,000 MW-hours of electricity and 67,000 MW-hours of heat. In the UMG, electricity and heat are also used for central cooling production.

Head image: ETW Energietechnik installs the unit in a building of the University Hospital. The hospital‘s annual heat energy requirement corresponds to that of 33,000 private households. The base load is now supplied by 4.75 megawatts of thermal energy from the environmentally friendly combined heat and power plant. (Source: ETW Energietechnik)

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