Ficep: a single partner for all production technologies in Area 1. The mission is to enhance the productivity of wind tower and foundation fabricators

The article is written by FICEP Group.

Wind energy is certainly one of the key drivers for reducing CO2 emissions by 2050. To move towards this horizon, many nations are investing significant capital in the construction of onshore and offshore wind farms: the developers of these farms rely on companies capable of providing technological, quality, reliable, cost-effective and time-effective solutions for the success of their projects. The main focus guiding the production management of these fabricators is production efficiency: it is therefore essential to be able to produce, while maintaining high and constant levels of product quality, always guaranteeing compliance with very tight tolerances, within certain timescales and realising the margins necessary for the success of the company.

With FICEP, fabricators now have a technological partner at their disposal that is able to support them in all the machining processes pertaining to Area 1: all those processes, from the plate metal storage warehouse to the stages preceding rolling. In fact, FICEP provides its own integrated technological solutions for the processes of shotblasting, cutting and beveling by milling.

The technological challenge facing fabricators around the world is to support the construction trend dictated mainly by the offshore market: building ever taller towers, with ever greater power generation capacities per single turbine.  The production of 15.0 MW per tower is the new benchmark in the sector and passes through rotors with diameters of more than 230 m (but we are likely to see 20 MW wind turbines and rotor diameters of more than 250 m). This requires the construction of increasingly massive and solid supporting structures (foundations: Monopile, Jacket, TP, Floating), capable of withstanding the enormous forces and tensions generated by the rotating moments of the blades. Base diameters can reach or exceeding 9 metres for towers, while 12 m monopiles are a reality and there is already talk of 14/15 m and thicknesses of up to 160 mm and more.  FICEP, with its technological offer, which covers the stages of shotblasting, cutting, and beveling, supports fabricators in facing this complex technological challenge.

The RB shotblasting machines, the Kronos machines for thermal cutting – plasma and oxyfuel – and the Energy machines for beveling (edge preparation by milling) are high-performance, reliable production tools supported by excellent service, capable of providing wind tower fabricators with a real competitive advantage throughout Area 1.

The other, equally important, challenge is the optimised management of production in terms of cost/benefit: in this regard, the performance and integration of FICEP’s machineries guarantees greater productivity. Producing efficiently today is an essential step for the success of the company: it is necessary to produce, guaranteeing the optimisation of costs, times and materials. In this regard, FICEP plays the card of integrating its technologies. The integration of the machines generates a significant advantage in terms of production efficiency: having a single technological interlocutor for all the processes in Area 1 means, in fact, dialoguing with a single interlocutor, which greatly simplifies communication. It is equally important in terms of production efficiency that machines can interface, be in communication with each other, and constantly provide a complete picture of production data for tracking and necessary adjustments.

FICEP offers a wide range of shotblasting machines with different characteristics and working speeds, intended for the surface treatment of plates. The machines can be supplied as single units, or integrated into highly complex systems. The RB range guarantees very high performance for the blasting of plates, being equipped with the latest version of ETA-patented turbines that offer excellent performance and unbeatable durability thanks to the special hardened steel blasting components.

In view of the increased demand for plates thicknesses up to 250 millimetres, FICEP is the optimal solution both in terms of thermal cutting with the Kronos range, and for beveling by milling with the Energy range. These are modular systems: once the working width is established, bench and rails lengths of up to 60 m and more can be achieved.

The Kronos range, dedicated to the wind energy sector, covers a variety of plate widths from three to four and a half metres in standard configuration or more on customized solutions. The Kronos can be equipped with four high-performance oxy-fuel torches, triple oxy-fuel torches, one or two high-definition plasma torches, for straight or bevel cuts, with the latest Hypertherm or Kjellberg power sources. It can be equipped with independent motors and allows the cutting of sheet metal into rectangular, trapezoidal or curved shapes (banana) for subsequent rolling, as well as the creation of the welding preparation bevel already, thanks to the 3D bevel plasma head, the 3D bevel oxyfuel torch or the triple torch oxy-fuel head with manual, semi-automatic or automatic configuration. The cutting bench consists of a robust grid that guarantees the stability of the plate during processing.

Energy is the new CNC working center, designed and manufactured for beveling through milling, drilling and marking of plates, intended for the construction of wind towers and foundations (Monopile, Jacket, Pin pile, Suction bucket, TP, Floating). Energy is an innovative and powerful technological solution, designed to guarantee high productivity, machining versatility and performance. Energy is characterized by high machining speed; precision and high chip removal capacity thanks to the power generated by the 70 kW or 123 kW spindles; high productivity and the ability to handle 24-hour work cycles; very high precision thanks to the touch probe that allows the control of machining dimensions for absolute precision. Energy has two special milling heads suitable also for drilling and marking operations. The machine can perform all typical bevels required in preparation before rolling, such as Y, K, X, V or J (or any other type). Programming can take advantage of DXF import via the PLM to interface with a pre-loaded tool magazine and create the machining program. The same PLM can also be used for the cutting machine (plasma or oxy-fuel) to generate the correct program in order to obtain the exact dimensions (extra material) for the next milling phase. Programming on board the machine without necessarily having to go through the technical department is also available.

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Wind tower fabrication system with dual spindles for high performances

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