Hertwich Engineering, a company of the SMS group, is active worldwide with design, supply, construction and commissioning of machinery and equipment for the aluminium industry, foremost aluminium casthouses.

Hertwich sets the trend for combined operation of continuous and batch homogenising furnaces

Hammerer Aluminium Industries Santana S. R. L., based in Santana, Romania  has ordered a second homogenising plant consisting of two batch furnaces, a cooling station and handling equipment from Hertwich Engineering, a subsidiary of the SMS group. Commissioning is scheduled for February 2018.

In 2009, the Austrian company Hammerer Aluminium Industries (HAI) built a casthouse for aluminium extrusion billets in Santana, Romania. A modern Hertwich continuous homogenising furnace with ultrasonic testing, saw and packing unit was put into operation for the homogenisation of the extruded aluminium billets. At that time, the plant's annual production was 80,000 tonnes.

The batch homogenising furnaces currently on order complement the existing continuous homogenising furnace in several respects. Initially the new plant will increase the capacity by around 50 percent. In addition, production becomes more flexible because continuous homogenising is less suitable for more frequent changes of homogenizing parameters or for alloys with very long holding times. In such cases, the batch homogenising furnace shows off its advantages. In the case of Hammerer Aluminium in Santana, there is also the option of using batch homogenising furnaces for the heat treatment of the rolling slabs newly added to the production programme.

This is the reason more and more foundries have recently started to combine continuous and batch homogenising furnaces. Meanwhile the combination of continuous and batch homogenising furnaces may even be considered as state of the art in modern casthouses. As described above, this combination offers full automation, so that the ancillary equipment for sawing, ultrasonic testing, stacking, strapping, etc. can be used by both plants. In the case of Hammerer Aluminium in Romania, additional handling equipment will be installed alongside the extension of the existing ultrasonic testing.

The trend towards the combined operation of continuous and batch homogenising furnaces was initiated when Hertwich took a critical look at the conventional batch furnace design a few years ago and came up with some technical innovations. The newly developed batch furnaces are not only similar to the continuous furnaces in terms of temperature distribution, but their operation is also highly automated with the help of suitable equipment. The market's attitude to the new generation of batch furnaces was quite critical for some time, but now the industry is fully convinced of its benefits.

Existing Continuous Homogenizing Plant at Hammerer Aluminium in Romania