Liebherr Rostock: Building blocks for automated future

Liebherr Rostock: Building blocks for automated future

Liebherr-MCCtec Rostock GmbH is one of the leading European manufacturers of maritime cargo handling equipment, gained clear results to their production efficiency by investing in modern PEMA Robotic welding station equipped with PEMA WeldControl 300 Scan software to improve production quality and global competitiveness.

"Our target was to minimize heavy physical work, heat input to humans by the means of robotized welding, increase the efficiency in steel construction and improve production quality."

Liebherr-MCCtec Rostock GmbH, founded in 2002, is a part of the multinational industry and technology corporation Liebherr Group. Famous for its heavy load cranes, such as ship, mobile harbor, and offshore cranes, the Liebherr Rostock locates in the North of Germany, in Rostock by the Baltic Sea, where the company has a direct link to the worldwide markets.

“We are one of the leading European manufacturers of ship cranes, mobile harbour cranes, and offshore cranes. Additionally, reachstackers and components for container cranes are covered in our product portfolio. The cranes we build have a lifting capacity up to 5,000 tons”, describes David Brusehafer, Foreman at Liebherr Rostock.

In a year , the volume of manufactured structures can exceed over 150 pieces, meaning that lots of steel run through the factory yearly. Additionally, Liebherr Rostock has most of its structure production in-house.

“We design, manufacture and assemble the structures at our factory, which is one of our key competencies. The Liebherr Maritime Cranes provide flexibility, efficiency, and thus more value for our customer”, says Rico Giebel, Liebherr Rostock’s Production Engineer.

Tackling the challenges of preheating

Resulting from the growing production and expansion in global markets, Liebherr Rostock started to search for a solution for more optimized manufacturing. The criteria were clear: the solution should improve working ergonomics and safety, but also provide better production quality. The company’s previous welding solution required a significant amount of manual work, which caused challenges in the preheating process and finally in the end-quality, too.

“The reason on why we started to consider modern production methods was the challenges with preheating, but also having a flexible solution to manufacture varied components”, Rico continues.

“For the crane production, the crane needs to be preheated or otherwise you destroy the material. Additionally, the process can be unsafe also for the worker as the temperatures can get as high as 150 celsius degrees. This was something that we wanted to change.”

Soon after, Liebherr Rostock crossed paths with Pemamek, and the collaboration on a modern PEMA robotic welding station was launched.

“We have had PEMA roller beds, so we were already familiar with the company and its products. Additionally, we got a good impression from the welding automation solution delivered to our branch company in Ireland. In the Liebherr Group, there is existing welding automation, which facilitated our decision to acquire robotized welding”, tells Giebel.

The winning card - PEMA WeldControl 300 Scan

Close collaboration as the foundation, Liebherr Rostock and Pemamek teamed up to develop a robotic welding station for Liebherr’s production needs. As a result, PEMA Robotic welding station was delivered. The station included PEMA robotic welding portal with one robot, a PEMA 1-axis turning table with 100-ton loading capacity working in synchrony with the robot, and PEMA WeldControl 300 Scan software.

“The structures we handle are large and complex. This set certain criteria also for the welding station and operation methods. Our target was to minimize heavy physical work, heat input to humans by the means of robotized welding, increase the efficiency in steel construction and improve production quality”, describes Brusehafer.

For Liebherr, one of the deciding factors was Pemamek’s in-house developed PEMA WeldControl 300 Scan . The software is designed for a convenient operation of the robot station, making processes, such as programming easy and fast. The system enables accurate welding of large size grooves with multi-layer welding. Additionally, the intelligent software adapts to welding parameters of each pass forming evenly filled weld grooves.

“The main reason for selecting Pemamek was the software. During the tender phase, it was something that differentiated PEMA solution from the rest”, Giebel continues.

“Thanks to the software, we could find an easy way for the operator to work, compensate tolerances, and improve welding seam preparation. It is difficult to find software that is well-developed, fast to learn, and easy to operate.”

"The main reason for selecting Pemamek was the software. During the tender phase, it was something that differentiated PEMA solution from the rest."

Ramp-up support and optimized production

According to its size, the robot welding station required the appropriate time to integrate it into Liebherr Rostock’s production. Giebel says thanks to the profound training and production support from Pemamek ‘s side that facilitated the start-up. “Like in all complex and large-scale projects, most likely some challenges always come along the way. What we have noticed with Pemamek is that even if there are some challenges, the company maintains its customer-oriented approach, is always on the customer’s side, and provides its true expertise solve issues”, tells Giebel.

The results from the start-up phase are starting to be visible and the company is now looking to reap the benefits. Brusehafer says, “At the moment we have clear results from the start-up phase, which have been very promising. We are very positive that our initial goals will be reached.”

When asking about the role of automation in the future, both gentlemen have a clear consensus. “When it comes to the future of automation, adopting modern digital solutions is one of the few ways to maintain global competitiveness”, summarizes Brusehafer and Giebel.

Story from Liebherr Rostock is originally published in PEMA News 2021.

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