There is hardly a product that does not require some type of connecting technology. This is how Hans Trilling, head of Mechanical Construction at IDEAL-Werk in Lippstadt, outlines the broad range of application of "his" machines. IDEAL has a large product portfolio of welding machines of many different sizes, for diverse applications. Since the requirements for components used in welding processes are high, IDEAL has relied for years on connecting technology from Eisele, which has developed and continuously expands special product lines for welding applications.
At the headquarters of the family-owned company IDEAL-Werk established in 1923 in Lippstadt, two factories with an area of more than 12,000 m2 produce welding machines for processing belts, sheet metal, pipes and wire. In addition to standard machines, the company also produces diverse special machines based on customer specifications, from the "CAD drawing board" through to commissioning. With more than 220 employees in Lippstadt, a subsidiary in South Africa and a sales and service office in the USA, IDEAL delivers highest-quality welding machines around the world. The common denominator "connecting technology" results in numerous end products; from automotive parts to wheel rims, metal grates and fence elements. In many projects, development takes place in close cooperation with the customers; the result can be anything from small table machines the size of a shoebox to complex systems for use on the other side of the world.
The typical welding environment is characterised by sparks, flames and generally high temperatures. Components intended for these applications have to fulfil the corresponding performance characteristics. Eisele's WeldingLine, for example, is especially easy to clean. The release ring used in conventional connections often becomes clogged by weld spatter. That is why the WeldingLine uses a sleeve that leaves no free space for the accumulation of impurities. Even after extended use, the connections can easily be opened. The fact that the connections are free of paint wetting impairment substances (PWIS) is another reason why Eisele connections have long been required for welding applications in the automotive industry. The hoses offered by Eisele under the company's own brand since 2009 are also ideal for this industry, since they are low-flammable yet installation friendly. Especially in the product origination phase one needs a contact partner "with whom it is possible to think creatively around corners, in order to find solutions." This, in addition to various product parameters, is especially important for Trilling.
Just as important as protection against sparks in welding is the issue of cooling. Developed especially for cooling water lines in stationary and mobile applications, Eisele offers the Liquid Line. The most outstanding features of this product line are high pressure stability and special protection against accidental loosening. This allows its use also directly in the control cabinet. The high flow rates and corrosion resistance of the LiquidLine guarantee optimal cooling.
Flexibility all the way to the Far East
If the customer-supplier relationship is stable and both parties can rely on a common basis, the results are sometimes spectacular: A major contract for a Chinese steel plant included several laser welding machines from IDEAL. After the first of these systems was shipped overseas, another needed to be put into operation earlier than planned. Partly due to the request to have the machine fully installed on an approaching Chinese holiday, it was necessary to change plans in order to organise a fast delivery. For 150 tons with a volume of 1,000 m2 the solution was called "Antonov AN-225". This impressive cargo aircraft - the largest in the world - landed in Hamburg for the first time in April 2010. Transports of this size simply cannot be delayed - no part can be missing on the deadline. In optimising one connection, IDEAL received fast help from Eisele. In response to the description of the requirement by phone, in which it became clear that the solution could not be achieved with standard components, Eisele developed a suitable part without hesitation - not quite overnight, but within a few days - and delivered it on schedule to Lippstadt, where it was sent on to China. The manufacturer of the components used in the past was not able to make the required modification with the necessary flexibility.
This project process not only demonstrates the advantages of "Made in Germany" - inventiveness on the basis of a large body of engineering know-how and nearness to the customer in every respect - but also confirms the philosophy of Eisele's customer orientation.
Welding in the future
Currently, connecting technology is undergoing developments that require new ways of thinking. Leaps in current from 100,000 to more than 600,000 A are one example of the challenges that have to be dealt with. In these dimensions, power is no longer supplied by cables, but instead by rails. This increase in the capacity of systems enables an entirely new dimension of productivity, with correspondingly high requirements for the peripheral equipment. For the media supply of this welding system, IDEAL uses MultiLine multiple connectors from Eisele, which were initially developed for this application and meanwhile are marketed as a separate product line. These products save assembly time and provide for optimal organisation, even in the case of many lines. In the new system, 60 connectors are installed in series - a configuration that only very few manufacturers can offer. Bundling of four, six, eight, ten or twelve hoses in one plug-in connection facilitates installation considerably. MultiLine was developed by Eisele for applications with a large number of plug-in connections. The product line consists of connectors for air ducts and for fluids and versions as multiple connectors that combine both types of lines in one connection. The multiple connector for air with a shut-off is designed so that it can be connected under pressure with little exertion of force. To guarantee a secure threaded connection, the connector was optimised to establish a leak-proof connection even before the union nut is tightened. The union nut has a unique end position that eliminates leaks due to incorrect installation.
The trends in welding technology are determined to a large extent by the development of new materials, which cannot be processed with existing connecting technologies; such materials include new steels developed for lightweight components. The creative development process at IDEAL will continue in the future to require partners with the same level of flexibility and innovation - for connecting technology, Eisele is the right partner.