Extreme forces act on a helicopter's rotor blades as they whip through the air at hundreds of rpm at dizzying heights. Whether in storm, rain, hail or desert sand – the influences prevailing during flight strike the coating with an enormous impact. Perfectly coordinated protection is of the essence to achieve the longest possible service life despite these conditions.
While the unprotected rotor blade would be worn out after around 350 flying hours, with the right erosion protection it outlasts this by around ten times. Expensive replacement is therefore required far less often.
As a longstanding partner of the industry, Fichtner & Schicht GmbH has established itself as one of the worldwide leading manufacturers of erosion protection profiles on the market. Today, many internationally renowned rotor blade and propeller manufacturers rely on their expertise and the experience of the specialists certified in accordance with the EN 9100 quality standard for the aerospace industry.
The same is true in the automobile sector, Fichtner & Schicht's second field of business. Distinguished manufacturers like Volkswagen or Audi turn to tools from the experts for electroplating for the production of many of their interior car parts.
To be well placed to fully concentrate on its core competencies in the automobile and aeronautics sectors, Fichtner & Schicht puts its trust in its partners' expertise – as was the case recently when it came to the decentralised layout of its production facilities. “Hitherto we focused exclusively on centralised automation solutions with the large superstructures and the distribution systems that go with them. The switch to decentralised structures has long been an issue, but we were lacking a suitable I/O solution for realisation – until Weidmüller presented us with u-remote" reports Kurt Stricker, CEO of Fichtner & Schicht.
Besides the most compact structure possible, what especially counts for the electroplating specialist is easy and fast installation, configuration and commissioning, because the systems have to be shut down for conversion work. Long downtimes most certainly have to be avoided here to keep loss of production as low as possible.
Against this backdrop, u-remote managed to score big points with aspects such as extremely simple configuration of the RTD modules. Another factor was the convenience of integrating the remote I/O system in the PROFINET environment at Fichtner & Schicht via the associated PROFINET-IRT standard field-bus coupler. Mirko Göbel, who is responsible for the entire electrical installation at Fichtner & Schicht, was convinced within a very short time.
“The fact that u-remote can perform was something I had already seen in the first design-in station I received from Weidmüller for testing. That's why I wanted to also directly experience the module live and I put it into operation in our system in next to no time,” Göbel enthusiastically recalls his first practical experience with u-remote. “Without looking at the manual even once, integration was finished in just under an hour.
The reasons for this, among others, were ease of interfacing, intuitive parameterisation and particularly convenient connection.”
Fichtner & Schicht sees the clear advantage of the new decentralised system design in its simplified fault localisation – an important contribution to process reliability, but also a significant reduction in workload in view of the 25 electroplating baths within the company. In light of this, the more compact structure wins out with control cabinets only half the size of those in the previous central structures.
The short cable routes in the decentralised solution ensure clean transmission of measurement and control signals and therefore precise currents in electroplating. This uncompromising accuracy
is particularly stipulated in aeronautics with its stringent weight requirements. This is just as important in the automobile industry, Fichtner & Schicht's second target sector.
“Based on our initial positive experiences, little by little over the course of further optimisation steps, we will expand the decentralised system structure to encompass the entire company,” Göbel reports. Always on the job: u-remote. The I/O solution from Weidmüller will even be used in lighting control for the Fichtner & Schicht production facility.
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Published in May 2014Pictures: Fichtner & Schicht
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