Apex Hydraulics Forging Reputation for Excellence
Apex Hydraulics work with a wide range of sectors and industries worldwide. Over recent years, Apex have been developing a reputation for excellence within the steel forging industry.
Hydraulics within the steel forging industry have to be particularly robust due to the harsh working environment of excess heat, steam and airborne contamination. They are working in the vicinity of extreme heats of up to 900 degrees, steam and the huge forces used to power a forging press that may weigh 3000 tonnes. These issues make it a sector that requires bespoke hydraulics, with features that are largely unique to the industry. Water powered hydraulic cylinders require all parts to be made from stainless steel to avoid rusting.
Forging presses produce huge runs of steel products, producing innovative new forgings for some of the largest worldwide manufacturers. Work is planned years ahead of time, and therefore any downtime for maintenance has to be scheduled far in advance to avoid downtime interrupting scheduled work. New forging presses may be planned up to a decade in advance, and by the time they are built they may have several years-worth of work lined up.
The experienced team of bespoke hydraulic designers and engineers at Apex, along with their top spec factory and reputation for working to pressurised deadlines, makes Apex Hydraulics an ideal partner for the production of hydraulic cylinders within the forging press industry.
The First Repair
Several years ago, Apex were approached by a client to repair an existing machine. The machine was old, with antiquated manual controls causing difficulty in operating it. The equipment was sluggish, and the client wanted to revamp every part of it.
With a piece of equipment as heavy and complex as a forging press, a repair is almost always more efficient than a replacement. A new press may cost millions of pounds; not to mention the costs of dismantling and removing such a large piece of machinery.
Hauhinco Valve Agents
The client required a new valve manifold block to operate all the functions of the press. They settled upon premium valve manufacturer Hauhinco. As the official agents for Hauhinco valves in the UK, Apex was commissioned with the provision and installation of the block.
Apex provided the valve manifold, a new prefill valve, and a new touch screen control. This meant that rather than relying on a person to operate the press manually, the operators could control it remotely, via a touch screen; increasing safety and decreasing margin for human error.
The valve functions for the forging press were extremely specialised. The system was run on water, due to the flammable nature of oil and the close proximity of the high heats of the forging press. This meant that every part of the hydraulic system; including all valves and the valve manifold block, needed to be made from stainless steel so that the water would not cause it to rust.
This type of specialised valve manifold block was a complex design, and so the German based, specialist manufacturer Hauhinco was the ideal choice. Apex liaised between the client and Hauhinco to ensure the optimum design and delivered and installed it during the down time prescribed by the client.
The valves in the manifold block controlled every part of the operation of the press and all ancillary movements. This included the raising and lowering of the press and associated movement. Each valve (totalling 30 to 40) has a different function within the press and were all contained within one large manifold block.
Service & Maintenance
Apex is now responsible for servicing and maintaining the machine for the client, visiting every six months. Visits are highly organised, to ensure the minimum downtime for the client. The machine is left to cool on a Thursday, so that it can be serviced from Friday to Sunday. The forging valve and prefill valve is disconnected and lowered on to the ground to work on safely. The valves are stripped, cleaned and assessed individually, replacing worn parts such as seals. Each small pilot valve is inspected individually. The valves are reconstructed and reassembled and a functionality test is done. Engineers return on Monday to do a functionality test when the press has been recommissioned.
Working On The World’s Largest Forging Press
Impressed with the work on this forging press, the company asked Apex Hydraulics to produce a full range of hydraulic cylinders for a custom-built new forging press based in Sheffield. At the time, the press was designed to be the biggest in the world. Apex made the cylinders for the 19,000 tonne press. On this occasion, the cylinders were operated on a fire-retardant oil. Apex produced the hydraulic cylinders which serviced the press.
Apex has since been commissioned to manufacture cylinders for another new forging press; this time in China.
Diligence & Expertise
For both repair and manufacture, Apex have the diligence and expertise to excel in the steel forging press industry, with the ability to work on highly bespoke hydraulic cylinders to tight deadlines and with total precision.
The following products were utilised as part of this project. For more detailed information on these products, click on an image below…