Automated testing line ensures safer and higher-quality testing for Sulzer

Sulzer is a global leader in fluid engineering, with two centuries of experience developing innovative products and services that drive sustainable progress – and help Sulzer’s customers build a better world. Sulzer’s customers benefit from the company’s commitment to innovation, performance, quality and from their responsive network of 180 world-class manufacturing facilities and service centers across the globe. Sulzer’s business is divided into three divisions: Flow Equipment, Services and Chemtech.

Sulzer, being one of the world’s leading pump manufacturers, provides a wide range of pump products used in various industries. The weight of the pumps varies between 40 kg and 1500 kg and each one of them is tested thoroughly before it leaves the factory in Kotka, Finland. Sulzer commissioned Etteplan to implement an automated testing line of pumps as part of a factory modernization project.

“We have been cooperating with Etteplan for a long time, and Etteplan was able to provide all the specialized expertise needed for the project.”

Tommi Ratia

Sulzer’s Product Development Manager

The objective of the project was to create a fully automated Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) station for Sulzer’s pump products and automate the delivery and dispatch of the pumps by automated guided vehicles (AGV).

”The old test station had become a bottleneck, which prevented the production volume from increasing. We wanted to build a completely new cell to replace the old one and get the degree of automation as high as possible since installing the pumps in the test bed with the old station was slow, physically heavy and burdensome,” Tommi describes.

Working in a virtual environment achieved cost savings

The project started by creating simulation models of the existing product line. Etteplan created the simulation models with Visual Components software. With the help of the simulations, it was possible to study the bottlenecks under various conditions and identify the changes needed for higher testing efficiency.

The next phase of the project included detailed mechanical engineering along with PLC and robot offline programming. Once the hardware was specified, the CAD models were imported into simulation model to create an accurate virtual representation of the proposed FAT station.

“As the project progressed, the simulation models were continuously updated, and virtual commissioning was performed at each step and design iteration. Virtual commissioning resulted in significant cost savings and time spent with physical site was minimized,” says Iiro Aalto, Etteplan’s Vice President in Engineering Solutions.

Increased productivity and safer performance

The automation of the testing processes will take Sulzer’s productivity to a new level, cutting the production throughput time by 93%. Read more.

“A significant change achieved through the project is that now, when testing is carried out by the robots, it’s much faster and easier. All in all, the automated testing line brings safety, ergonomics, quality and efficiency to testing,” Tommi concludes.

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Iiro Aalto

Vice President, Etteplan Production Solutions and Country Manager, the Netherlands

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