Rösler company, headquartered in Germany, is a global market leader in the field of surface treatment. The company offers a broad range of mass finishing and shot blasting equipment, including preservation lines, industrial washing machines and a huge assortment of mass finishing media and compounds. Recently Rösler has also become a leading supplier of post-processing solutions for 3D-printed metal and plastic components including de-powdering, support structure removal and surface refinement.
Through its “TuneUp” division, the company is also active in the field of re-building and modernizing shot blasting equipment, be it for machinery made by Rösler or a third-party manufacturer. MFN had the pleasure to sit down with Mr. Michael Motschenbacher, team leader of the company’s Retrofit program, and discuss with him in some detail, what goals the company pursues with the “TuneUp” division and its Retrofit activities.
(?) MFN: Mr. Motschenbacher, it is a pleasure meeting you and giving us the opportunity to discuss what motivated your company to establish its “TuneUp” division. We are very curious to learn why Rösler has entered the field of spare parts for third-party shot blasting machines. Do you really want to be another spare parts “pirate” for equipment built by other manufacturers?
(!) M. M.: Who gave you the idea that we are a “pirate”? Why would we want to sell low-quality, generic spare parts for third-party shot-blasting machines? Absolutely not! We are in the business of providing our customers with solutions for improving their product quality, increase their shot-blasting productivity and, along the way, help them save a ton of money. And we found that the modernization of existing machinery can do exactly that. And it does not matter, whether a machine was built by Rösler or another company.
(?) MFN: So, what exactly is your “TuneUp” division doing?
(!) M. M.: Our company has some great technologies that are highly beneficial to our customers. Of course, we are implementing these technologies in every piece of new equipment Rösler is selling. But we found that they can be equally effective in existing equipment irrespective of who the original manufacturer was. With our Retrofit program we are determining (1) if the modernization of such equipment is technically feasible and (2) if it provides an operational and economic benefit to the customer.
(?) MFN: You just mentioned that your company has some great technologies. Can you give us an example?
(!) M. M.: With pleasure: At the center of our Retrofit marketing strategy are our innovative blasting turbines. As you may remember, a few years ago, Rösler purchased the turbine business from Rutten company that included brilliant technical designs that were years ahead of any conventional turbines available in the market. Since then, we have made further improvements that are reflected in our Gamma and other turbine types. No other turbine manufacturer comes even close to the performance and energy efficiency of the turbines offered by Rösler. The family of Rösler turbines like the Gamma series is definitely an essential part of our overall equipment modernization concept.
(?) MFN: Is it not a bit risky to center your Retrofit strategy around just one product; namely, blasting turbines?
(!) M. M.: Not if you have such a superior product as Rösler does. Don’t forget that the turbines are a key factor for the results produced by a turbine shot-blasting machine. And our turbines are so far ahead of any other turbines available in the market that they will drastically improve the performance of any shot-blasting machine whoever the original manufacturer was.
(?) MFN: What is so special about your blasting turbines, for example, the Gamma series?
(!) M. M.: Where do I start? Let me first explain some of the design features: Gamma turbines have two-sided, curved throwing blades. This curvature means that they are throwing the media at the work pieces at a much higher speed and an up to 70% higher impact energy compared to straight-bladed turbines. The curved blade design also minimizes media turbulences on the throwing blades, resulting in a much more precise and stable blasting pattern. This means that the media hits precisely the areas it is supposed to hit; namely, the work pieces.
The two-sided, symmetrical blade design also allows using both sides, which literally doubles the usable life of the blades. If a blade change becomes necessary, it can be completed in less than 10 minutes.
Gamma turbines are also extremely energy-efficient. Compared to conventional turbines available in the market, they use about 20 to 25% less energy.
Finally, the critical parts like impeller, control cage and throwing blades are made from highly wear-resistant materials like tool steel or, optionally, carbide steel.
(?) MFN: You told us about the design features of your Gamma turbines. But how do these translate into advantages for the customers?
(!) M. M.: I am glad you are asking this. Because customers want to know “what’s in it for me?”. Let me go down the list point by point: The higher media throwing speed improves the blasting performance by up to 45%! We find again and again that our Gamma turbines significantly improve the shot-blasting results and, at the same time, help reduce the cycle times. This substantially improves the blasting quality, and the reduced cycle times increase the capacity of an existing shot-blasting machine. Frequently, the higher blasting performance allows decreasing the power of the blasting turbines, for example, from 15 to 11 kW resulting in a substantial reduction of energy consumption and blasting media usage.
The fact that both blade sides can be utilized, practically cuts the costs for throwing blades in half. And the use of highly wear-resistant materials like tool steel or carbide steel for the critical turbine components drastically increases their life expectation. In some cases, they may be running up to 40,000 operating hours before they must be replaced. Of course, this also helps to significantly reduce the costs for maintenance.
So, let me summarize: The customers benefit from an improved shot-blasting quality, reduced cycle times with a resulting capacity increase, lower energy costs, lower costs for maintenance, increased equipment uptimes, and lower expenses for blasting media and spare parts.
(?) MFN: But all this comes at a price….?
(!) M. M.: Of course, the modernization costs money. But we have found that the installation of high-performance turbines into an existing shot-blasting machine usually results in a payback period of about 12 – 15 months. Considering that the costs for the turbine exchange are a mere fraction of the price for a new shot-blasting machine, the benefits of a modernization project are quite obvious.
(?) MFN: Besides high-performance turbines, what other Retrofit solutions do you offer?
(!) M. M.: While the turbines, like the Gamma series, play a central role in our Retrofit strategy, we offer our customers a lot more. This depends entirely on the results of our analysis of the customer’s shot-blasting machine. Sometimes, the blasting results can be significantly improved by installing a media replenishment system that ensures a constant supply of media to the blasting turbines. A small investment like this can result in a dramatic improvement of the shot-blasting operation.
Foundries utilizing a sand-casting process frequently find that their blasting media is contaminated with large amounts of core and molding sand. This abrasive mix quickly wears down the turbines and the machine, resulting in exorbitant maintenance costs and frequent downtimes. The installation of a Rösler magnetic separator reduces the sand content in the media to less than 0.01% and will, therefore, significantly extend the service life of turbine and machine components dramatically. This saves not only a lot of money but also increases the machine availability!
Another example are wet dust collectors. For example, in Germany, these must be regularly tested for legionella contamination. An alternative to these time-consuming and costly tests is the installation of a Rösler automatic dosing system injecting a specially formulated additive into the wet dust collector. This Retrofit solution maintains a constant high alkaline pH value and reliably prevents the formation of legionella, while of course eliminating the need for the legionella tests. This also represents a considerable contribution towards sustainable work place safety, and let’s not forget that the safe operation of equipment is an important duty of the equipment owner.
Naturally, our Retrofit services also extend to streamlining the material handling and work piece transportation in and around a shot-blasting machine.
Often, we assist our customers in renewing or obtaining a certification according to DIN EN ISO 50001 for realized energy savings or adapting their shot-blasting machine to the latest legal standards. We even help them in obtaining grants from one of the energy efficiency aid programs.
(?) MFN: How do you approach your Retrofit projects?
(!) M. M.: We always start out with an extensive analysis of the customer’s shot-blasting machine and his requirements. Does he want to improve his shot-blasting quality? Does he need additional capacity? Must the shot-blasting process be modified because of a changing product mix? Are the maintenance costs too high? Are the energy costs too high? etc.
Based on this analysis, our engineers work out a retrofit proposal that takes into account all the customer needs. Together with this technical and commercial proposal, we prepare a detailed return-on-investment calculation for the modernization project that also specifies a definite pay-back period.
(?) MFN: This sounds pretty good. But what guarantees do the customers have about the actual financial outcome of a modernization project they purchase from you?
(!) M. M.: That is a legitimate question, which, by the way, our customers are asking all the time. And for this reason, our ROI calculation is binding. We will only present a modernization proposal, if we are certain that it pays off. This proves to our customers that they can be absolutely sure of the promised financial benefits; in other words, it practically eliminates the risk for the customer. As a matter of fact, we are so confident in the effectiveness of the Gamma turbines that we install them in a customer machine for a certain trial period at minimal costs to the customer.
(?) MFN: So far this sounds pretty impressive – theoretically! But can you give us some actual customer examples of successful Retrofit projects?
(!) M. M.: With pleasure. But before I do, let me point out again that if we have any doubt about the financial outcome of a modernization project, we will not submit a quote.
Now to your question: Instead of purchasing a new shot-blasting machine, a leading company for drive train technology took advantage of the Rösler Retrofit program and equipped a shot-blasting machine in its foundry division with Gamma 400G high-performance turbines - with outstanding results! The expenses for maintenance could be cut by 67%, the blasting performance was increased by 45%, and the energy consumption was drastically reduced. All this resulted in a decrease of the overall operating costs by 34% and an amortization time of a little over one year.
Another example: A renowned, large die-casting company recently replaced the conventional blasting turbines on its shot-blasting machine with Gamma turbines. Since this customer is utilizing relatively light-weight aluminium cut wire media, the old turbines had to always run at maximum load and required extremely long cycle times to achieve the required blasting cleaning results. The media was also frequently “plugging up” the turbines. causing expensive downtimes. The Gamma turbines with their faster throwing speed and 25% higher blasting performance helped eliminate all these problems. The customer now achieves excellent shot-blasting results with shorter cycle times, reduced energy consumption, lower maintenance costs and drastically reduced equipment downtimes. This project yielded an amortization period of well below 2 years.
Another customer using a steel tumble-belted blasting machine had problems with the work pieces getting pinched between the steel bars. This caused a significant amount of scrap. We solved the problem by completely redesigning the belt, and even in this case, we conducted a test under actual operating conditions to prove to the customer beforehand that our design worked.
I could give you a lot more projects. But these few examples clearly show that the modernization of an existing shot blasting machine is frequently a much more cost-effective alternative to the purchase of a new machine. This is especially true in the current difficult economic situation caused by the Corona pandemic.
(?) MFN: Is it really worthwhile to assign expensive personnel and other resources to such Retrofit activities?
(!) M. M.: Retrofit is an essential part of the overall Rösler customer service philosophy. This includes well-trained and experienced service engineers, test centers for equipment and process development, maintenance agreements, timely supply of spare parts and, with the Rösler Academy, special training courses for equipment operation and maintenance. Retrofit is rounding off our service package and, as such, it provides crucial added value to our customers.
MFN would like to thank Michael Motschenbacher for this interview!
Rösler Oberflächentechnik GmbH
Vorstadt 1, 96190 Untermerzbach, Germany
Mr. Daniel Hund