Steinemann Technology AG has two product lines for sanding, both of which comprise wide-belt sanders. They are Nova-H and Satos.
The former range come in widths of up to 1750mm for sanding boards up to 1680mm wide, while those in the Satos range go up to 3300mm maximum panel width.
The Nova-H is most often found in furniture and panel processing factories, as well as in primary panel manufacturers, notably plywood.
The Satos was first launched in 2001 and sanders in this range are all built on mineral cast frames produced from compact vibrated siliceous limestone and a small percentage of neutral epoxy binder. Steinemann says this form of construction is vibration-absorbing (in comparison to cast iron), temperature-stable, resistant against chemicals, has favourable noise transmission characteristics, gives a solid body, and is non-conductive and corrosion resistant.
The Satos is best-suited to the larger panel production lines and is capable of running at high speeds with the full range of panel types.
The company’s experience of the market in recent years, as related by vice president Hansjörg Fritsche, will be familiar to many.
“In 2007/8 the market was ‘crazy’ and we were working overtime Monday to Friday and every Saturday as well,said Mr Fritsche. “In 2009 we had to instigate short working hours. Now we are back to overtime Monday to Friday. It was really tough from about October 2009 to March 2010 but since then we have been back to the good times!
“Many projects were put on hold in 2009 until early this year when the brakes were removed. We have production booked through to the second half of 2011 now, mainly in China and South East Asia, but also some orders from South America,said the vice president when interviewed in early October.
“Turkey is also back on track with lots of projects under discussion,added Michael Schmid, sales manager with Steinemann. “We just completed a six-head Satos line for panel maker Masstas AS, close to Bolu in western Turkey; we installed a new eight-head Satos for Kastamonu Gebze’s new particleboard line in July; and we are extending a four-head line to 12 heads for MDF there, with start-up due in Spring 2011.
“Also, Starwood is extending from 10 to 12 heads on both its particleboard and MDF lines to start up in the first quarter of 2011,added Mr Schmid. “There are other projects in Turkey too, and we will probably sell three or four lines there in the next couple of years.”
Not that Steinemann was idle in 2009 in terms of development. The Ligna exhibition in Hanover, Germany, that year saw the official launch of the Satosplus concept.
“Many features make up the ‘plus’,said Mr Fritsche. “It is a much more rigid machine. It also has the Quick-Lock system, together with the ‘self track’ belt tracking control.”
Quick-lock involves a new rotating latch lock to give good accessibility to the abrasive belt for quick changing and reduced risk of damage to the belt, explained Mr Fritsche, while the ‘self track’ facility has synchronous belt tensioning to ensure smooth belt running. “Being self-adjusting, thus eliminating the need for manual adjustment of the abrasive belt, means higher machine availability.”
Other ‘plus’ features include a gear drive for the drum rather than being driven by v-belts and this is claimed to increase the lifetime of the bearings, because they are not under tension from the v-belts, and to lead to a reduced maintenance requirement.
“We have also improved the dust extraction with ‘Power Vac’ powerful extraction with an optimised nozzle design,explained Mr Fritsche. “And the ‘Easy Touch’ touch-screen panel with status display means easy operation.”
The ‘plus’ also includes integrated, hinged metal-mesh safety gates on the machine itself, thus eliminating the need for cumbersome ‘fencing’ around the whole machine.
Optional extras available on Satosplus include a hydrostatic bearing housing with integrated oil lubrication; ‘Servo Move’, a new raise-and-lower sanding platen system to prevent edge sanding; and integrated thickness gauge ‘Inline Set’, which permanently monitors the geometry of the panel as well as the stock removal behind every sanding head so that wear of the abrasive belt is automatically compensated.
However, the most basic difference between the Satos and Satosplus is in the frame.
The Satos had that mineral cast frame, but the ‘plus’ employs cast iron with the internal core sand left in. Steinemann says that due to this special casting technology it is possible to create a frame enclosed on all sides, with increased stiffness and the high damping properties necessary to meet the increased performance and quality requirements.
Advantages claimed are: high frame stiffness; high vibration absorption (equivalent to, or better than, mineral cast); and a solid, heavy body.
“There is a total of 3,500 new parts on the Satosplus,said Mr Fritsche. “We discussed with all our staff, including our engineers who travel the world visiting clients, what those clients would like to have in terms of improvements to the existing Satos machine and then we put in 35,000 engineering hours in developing Satosplus.”
The first Satosplus line – a 10-head machine – was commissioned in Egger’s Brilon plant in Germany in March this year.
The second will go to Nelson Pine’s MDF line in New Zealand and will start up in February 2011, while the third is destined for Berneck of Brazil’s MDF line in mid-2011.
The latest order is from an as-yet undisclosed customer in South East Asia.
“The Satos machines will continue to be built in the St Gallen factory for the next 10-15 years at least, especially for the extension of existing lines,said Mr Fritsche.
Steinemann does not just supply sanders, but says that it is a total solution supplier where the sanding process is concerned.
The company also supplies abrasive belts and has invested in a conversion plant in its factory in Jiading, Shanghai, China, which has been equipped with the latest technology. This factory mainly targets the Asia Pacific market – there is already plenty of competition in the European arena.
Nova-H machines are also assembled in the Jiading factory.
For the immediate future of sales, Steinemann expects some large investments in Russia, in plywood, particleboard, MDF and OSB, in addition to projects already well underway such as Rimbunan Hijau’s in the far east of the country, Tomsk and Ugraplit, all of which have Satos lines ordered.
Mr Schmid attended the Lesdrevmarsh show in Moscow in September where Steinemann took a booth and reported that investment in the forest products industry appears to be getting the ‘green light’ from government there. The company has a service office in Moscow and stocks ‘consumables’ such as abrasive belts and spring inserts for sanding platens at its partner company Euromash, also in Moscow.
Steinemann employs a total of 180 staff, 60 of whom are in the China operation. Around 24 apprentices are employed at any one time in St Gallen.
All critical parts, such as the balanced, grooved and Arctec-coated main drums are manufactured and balanced in the Swiss factory and all machines are assembled and tested on site before despatch. Those Arctec-coated contact drums have an increased lifetime of two to three years in comparison to common standard drums, says Steinemann.