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Jun 11, 2019

From hydraulic to electric anode casting

When we started building anode casting shops back in 1973 we had already been manufacturing casting and weighing units for a few years. In those days hydraulics was the only powerful and reliable choice for movement. When electric drives started to be developed, we first implemented them for wheel rotation. We found that the combination of an electric motor and a planetary gearbox enabled powerful, accurate, and reliable operation, so we started to implement it in other casting-shop movement applications. The change to electricity also meant increased safety since hydraulic oil and molten metal have been known to cause fires in casting shops.
Fully electric anode casting machine
Figure 1. Fully electric casting machine.

As we entered the new millennium we decided to put more effort into gradually implementing electric drives for all casting-shop movement, beginning with the most complex system, the anode collecting and handling system. Once the system had been up and running in several locations for a few years, we decided to implement electric drives in the rest of the machines – completely eliminating the need for hydraulics. To speed up the change we decided to run it as a product development project, which finished in 2015; the first hydraulic-free casting shop was commissioned in 2016. The selected components have proven to be reliable, and the feedback from our clients has been very positive.

At the same time we have also developed digital products to support production monitoring and quality functions. For example, we can now supply a Casting Information Management System (CIMS) that is compatible with the Outotec Tankhouse Information Management System (TIMS); both systems are based on the Outotec ACT platform.

Outotec CIMS Casting Information Management System
Figure 2. Screenshots from the Outotec CIMS Casting Information Management System.

We have also developed Outotec Mold Sense®, an online measurement system for mold condition and level. The system checks for things like warping, cracks, foreign objects, broken-in lugs, missing or too-high push pins, and worn push-pin holes. If a problem is detected the system can generate an alarm and connect to functions in the main control system. The system has performed very well in terms of reducing the number of rejected anodes due to incorrect alignment or worn, warped molds. It also increases safety since it prevents casting into molds where defects have been detected.

Outotec Mold Sense system
Figure 3. A screenshot from the Outotec Mold Sense system.

To date we have delivered close to 100 complete casting shops, and our dedicated team has used customer feedback to continuously improve our offering. We can proudly say that we can deliver safe, high-quality casting solutions to meet the needs of our customers, as well as support, service, and spare parts for the lifetime of the solution.


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