Making plans for the future at the Homburg site
Over 15 meters tall. 1,700 tons in weight. A pressing force of 16,000 tons. That's the gigantic press of the world's most modern forging line. It has its home at thyssenkrupp Forged Technologies in Homburg, Germany, where an idea turned into reality. Within the first year of production, the colleagues forged thousands of forged parts for trucks. Now it's time to take a look at the results.
All beginnings are difficult
Let us start in September 2021. The new forging line (PL20) in Homburg started production. The first step was to produce sample parts and deliver them to customers. On board right from the start? Christopher Chaßeur as Head of the PL20 forge. "It takes a while to move from sample to series production for chassis components. That's because chassis components are safety components," he explains and continues: "They have to be extensively tested beforehand. However, we have delivered all the samples for various components to our customers on time and have so far received very positive feedback on the bench tests." Yet, things are moving faster with crankshafts for engines. These are also produced on the new forging line. The customers have already approved the samples, so the series production started in May.
An important step
The PL20 is already making a significant contribution to the growth and diversification of thyssenkrupp Forged Technologies' product portfolio. "Thanks to the investment in the new forging line we can now produce chassis components for trucks for the first time. This is a milestone because they work independently of the combustion engine," says Christopher Chaßeur. The production of drivetrain-independent chassis components is a new component of thyssenkrupp Forged Technologies' corporate strategy. It will allow them to open up new markets and product segments in view of future developments in electromobility.
What makes the forging line so special
The PL20 is considered the most advanced forging line in the world. Christopher Chaßeur knows why: "Thanks to its complete automation, the line has extremely short cycle times for producing the parts, which weigh up to 240 kilograms and are 2 meters long. In addition, it can be changed over very quickly from one product to another." Consequently, the forging line can produce more in less time. Calculated over a year, up to 360,000 forged parts are possible. Beside the latest technologies, the PL20 impresses with its increased efficiency and productivity compared to other production lines.
Another advantage? The entire forging process on the PL20 is fully automated. And even after that, the process continues in a highly automated manner – namely during finishing. This is downstream of the forging line. Here, all forged components are checked for quality. In the heat treatment facility of the finishing line, the chassis components are heat treated and then machined using state-of-the-art CNC milling machines.
"Within the last few years, we have been able to reduce energy consumption at the Homburg site by 37 percent through targeted efficiency improvements," reports Christopher Chaßeur proudly. And proud he can be. After all, that's an energy saving of over a third compared to the previous figure. The PL20 has been making a decisive contribution to this since last year. "An important component of energy efficiency at the PL20 are our blank holding ovens. This saves us around 950 megawatt hours of electricity and thus up to 512 tons of CO2 per year," explains the Head of forge PL20.
A high investment that pays off
This development was made possible by thyssenkrupp Forged Technologies' investment of 80 million euros in the new forging line. In the view of Christopher Chaßeur, a worthwhile step to expand the product portfolio. Likewise, the PL20 represents a back-up to other large presses such as the PL10 (12,000 tons) for the existing truck crankshaft business. This shows that even if a breakdown threatens, the international customers of the Homburg plant can rely on thyssenkrupp Forged Technologies as a supplier for chassis components and crankshafts.