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How hydraulics and controls retrofits and upgrades can breathe new life into aluminum extrusion press operations.

As aluminum parts manufacturers seek new ways to control costs and improve productivity, this informative Rexroth technical paper provides key considerations for assessing when, how and why to retrofit and upgrade press controls and hydraulics to extend the productive life of extrusion presses.

Today's aluminum parts producers are evaluating the performance and operational effectiveness of the extrusion presses, in the light of several industry drivers: customers such as vehicle component manufacturers seeking faster turnarounds and smaller order lot sizes; more complex profiles and lower-cost extrusions; and the impact of industry consolidations as parts producers seek to maximize press utilization, uptime and return on investment.

While some operators invest in brand-new extrusion presses, many are investigating the feasibility and technical issues associated with retrofitting and upgrading hydraulics and controls components on the press, to extend the life of the press and provide a more flexible, reliable, long-term manufacturing solution.

The technical paper, authored by Jeff Grube, Branch Manager-Presses for Bosch Rexroth, describes the benefits associated with extrusion press retrofits, and provides a detailed look at five key factors to consider when evaluating the ultimate scope and return of a press retrofit.

These factors include:

1.) Current level of extrusion control: Retrofits make sense if you need greater endpoint precision and reductions in scrap; state of the art PLCs and closed-loop pump controllers can supply the desired control.

2.) Hydraulics efficiency and effectiveness: Older presses with servo valves and inline are more complex and can require increased maintenance and fluid filtration; replacing these hydraulics with proportional control valves and manifolds simplifies hydraulic architecture while improving performance

3.) Energy efficiency: Electric motors drive the hydraulic pumps which drive extrusion presses; in older presses, these motors tend to be oversized, to compensate for inefficiencies downstream. Utilizing variable speed pumps that deliver energy on demand can allow motor "right-sizing" and save energy.

4.) Working environment: Safety for the machine operator and protecting the press from damage has become more significant in today's high-throughput production environment; retrofitting controls and hydraulics can enable automated safety features that enhance plant safety, reduce costs and lengthen press life

5.) Overall operating costs: Retrofits can deliver measurable returns faster through reducing maintenance costs, cleaning up factory floor conditions, saving on replacement of hydraulic fluid due to losses from leaks, and significantly increasing press uptime, changeover time and throughput.

Every aluminum extrusion press operation has its own operational and cost dynamics; operators need to consider which factors are most critical to improving their ability to stay competitive and deliver the highest quality parts to their customers.

This technical paper provides detailed insight about the potential risks associated with retaining legacy hydraulics and controls technologies, and provides a roadmap for assessing the potential return on retrofitting and/or upgrading some or all of the components controlling and driving high-capacity aluminum extrusion presses.

Download the complete case history from the Bosch Rexroth Case Studies & Technical Papers web page.

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The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services. According to preliminary figures, more than 300,000 associates generated sales of 51.4 billion euros ($71.5 billion) in the areas of automotive and industrial technology, consumer goods, and building technology in fiscal year 2011.

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