WOB-Wessling Oberflächenveredelung (WOB) operates the largest special plant for contract coating in Europe. In a workshop of around 22,000 square meters, hanging cranes provide fully automatic transport for the parts weighing up to 9.5 tons. The gigantic plant includes several cable carriers from Tsubaki Kabelschlepp, which are inspected and serviced by the manufacturer as part of its exclusive maintenance service. This allows WOB to reduce risks and prevent downtimes.
“The cable carrier systems are a very essential part of the plant,” Sebastian Hüer, head of maintenance and Service at WOB, explains. Just how essential they are, becomes evident particularly in case of a defect: “Worst case, a defective cable carrier can cause a production standstill for several days.” The reason: WOB mainly takes on cathodic dip coating (CDC) for commercial vehicles and for large automotive components and machine components. This technology ensures high quality corrosion protection, a long service life and a visual upgrade for the finished product.
The coating process, however, is lengthy and comprises several stations: Pre-treatment and coating takes place in several enormous dip tanks for maximum component dimensions of up to 16 meters length, 2.60 metres width and 3.6 metres height, before the components are transported to the drying oven. If necessary, this is followed by a powder coating process which then requires another firing cycle. A hanging crane system equipped with six large cable carriers from Tsubaki Kabelschlepp transports the large, heavy components from station to station.
“Two cable carriers from our M Series are used in the two buffer transfer units and a cable carrier from the Master Series operates in the area of the dip tanks. Each is just under 32 meters long,” Patrick Kleusberg, service engineer at Tsubaki Kabelschlepp, explains. “The transfer bridge then features another three cable carriers from the Uniflex Advanced Series with a length of 23 metres.” The cable carriers used at WOB were selected especially for this application: the M Series, for example, is ideal for use in workshops with process cranes. The systems are accordingly robust and failsafe – but regular inspections are still advisable.
“The cable carriers from Tsubaki Kabelschlepp have a great quality. But even the best product is not immune to wear,” Sebastian Hüer points out. “To be on the safe side, we have now been using the MRO service from Tsubaki Kabelschlepp for some time.” Currently, the WOB plant is inspected annually. During this process, the engineers put all cable carriers through their paces – they move the drag chains along the entire length and examine the cables and wear parts. Any defects, risks or optimization potentials are identified and recorded for the customer in detail. In addition to this, the technical condition of all cable carriers is evaluated.
“This inspection focuses on determining the required repair and maintenance work, whereby we can also carry out smaller repairs directly, thanks to the spare parts carried by the engineers,” Patrick Kleusberg explains. “This allows us to minimize downtimes and prevent larger damage from arising in the first place.” On request, the work carried out is documented in maintenance reports which the customer can then use for their in-house quality management or for certification purposes.
The inspection is flexibly adapted to the customer’s schedules and requests: The engineers work at any time of day or night, including weekends and public holidays – ideally whenever the customer’s systems would be at a standstill anyway. So the downtimes can be easily planned in this case – a good compromise if this means that unplanned downtimes, including unforeseeable financial consequences, can be prevented.
Identifying damage before it occurs: that is precisely the objective of the MRO service from Tsubaki Kabelschlepp. Sebastian Hüer can name several examples where this form of predictive maintenance has literally ‘paid off’ for WOB: in one case, a cable carrier was grating against the permanently installed cables of a crane system unnoticed, so the cable insulation was already severely damaged in this area. Luckily, this damage was identified during the inspection. Otherwise, it could have had far-reaching consequences.
Generally, the head of maintenance and Service is very satisfied with the MRO service from Tsubaki Kabelschlepp: “We are very happy that the manufacturer offers all this from one source. Unfortunately, that is rare in our industry. With the annual inspections we can ensure that the system is always safe – that is not just a good feeling, but it also provides a financial advantage by preventing downtimes.”
Naturally, the MRO service from Tsubaki Kabelschlepp also offers support for urgent repairs – after all, not all problems can be prevented beforehand. In addition to all this, the competent engineers also provide fast and uncomplicated support if no regular inspections are carried out on the system. Of course it is helpful, however, if the service engineers already know the system and its cable carriers. This is why Tsubaki Kabelschlepp carries out an inventory of the systems if required:
“Many line builders use cable carriers from Tsubaki Kabelschlepp,” Patrick Kleusberg explains. “The end customers, however, may not be able to cope with the unfamiliar solutions. In this case, we determine and record the installed cable carriers, which allows us to react faster if problems arise and to get the customer systems running again.” The bottom line: Better safe than sorry – that definitely applies to cable carriers as well.