Plate & Angle Rolls

Extreme makeover

By Lynn Stanley

Above: The iRoll eXtreme can run a fully automated cycle, or operate in manual assisted or manual mode.

New digitized control marries automation with smart technology to help manufacturers overcome skilled labor shortfall

September 2021 - When it comes to rolling plate for heavy duty environments, there are a lot of variables to consider, from a material’s chemical composition and thickness to the strains associated with plastic deformation. In June 2021, DAVI Inc. introduced the iRoll eXtreme, a new digitized control that marries automation with smart, intuitive technology.

“Rolling is still considered somewhat of a ‘black art,’” says DAVI Inc. President and CEO Alessandro Soffritti. “We wanted to improve the ability of a plate roll operator with limited experience to get up to speed and start making good parts quickly. Even complex parts. On top of the operation advantages, the iRoll eXtreme provides process and maintenance reports that managers can use to access real-time data. We also designed the control to solve a serious problem the industry is facing—loss of trained labor and work force reductions. We wanted to make it easier for companies to cultivate a suitable workforce even when skill sets are lacking.”

Headquartered in Emilia-Romagna, Italy, DAVI is the world’s largest manufacturer of plate and angle rolls, with branches in Dallas, Texas, and Shanghai, China. The iRoll eXtreme can run a fully automated cycle, or operate in manual assisted or manual mode. Engineered with features such as a high resolution, large industrial touch screen, intentional joystick, 3D real time simulation, single and multi-pass programming, the control gives users a smartphone-like experience.

“We designed the control system with the user in mind,” says Dario Mulazzani, project and proposal manager for DAVI. “We wanted to take the familiar experiences that people already have with their smart devices and translate that to the iRoll eXtreme. Because the control does most of the heavy lifting for operators, it allows more employees in a job shop to make good parts that are repeatable. We want manufacturers to be able to actively manage machine performance while minimizing downtime.”

FFJ 0921 plate image1

(Above) 3D simulation allows the operator to visualize the fabrication process. (Below) The apple icon automatically generates programs for repeatable, round shapes.

FFJ 0921 plate image2

Intuitive approach

Typically, DAVI plate rolls are used to form very large, thick plate, a process that traditionally has been performed manually by an experienced operator. The control’s assisted manual mode gives the skilled operator support that didn’t exist before. For applications that require rounded shapes, large plate often has to be re-rolled to improve its final shape. Once a cylinder is formed and its edges welded, the rolled piece is placed back in the machine which rotates it and exerts force to improve roundness. To properly execute the additional operation, the plate has to initially be rolled into an apple shape to maximize the effect of the re-rolling process.

In a conventional setup, a skilled operator would be required to calculate the right apple [ASME Tolerance Compliance System] shape and create a program for it. “Now operators can use the iRoll eXtreme to generate an apple shape automatically or semi-automatically to the tolerances specified by the customer,” says Mulazzani. “Once the operator pushes the apple icon, the control produces a program with the correct geometry for the part. It allows them to start the job with a shape that is repeatable. We are eliminating a lot of trial and error for manufacturers with this feature.”

Customer service is a core precept of DAVI’s design philosophy. The OEM is the only plate roll manufacturer with an in-house research and development team. The 55-year-old company has produced patented technology and industry firsts that include its friction and lubrication-free planetary guiding, the first unmanned robotic line for high-volume production, its variable axis 3-roll machines, and its work to transition equipment for analog to digital signals running through a single wire.

FFJ 0921 plate image3

The iRoll eXtreme supports Industry 4.0 practices while making it easy for less experienced operators to make good
parts quickly.

3D Simulation

The iRoll eXtreme control’s 3D template simulation, Talk & Watch with smart glasses and multi-pass programming are the newest developments to come from DAVI’s ongoing R&D efforts. 3D simulation allows a less experienced operator to visualize the fabrication process. “It’s helpful at the beginning of a batch, to see an accurate representation of what will happen,” says Mulazzani. “It gives the operator the chance to modify the program based on what he or she sees in the preview.”

The control’s flexibility allows it to support a broader range of market needs. The fully automatic cycle, for example, is suited to the automotive industry’s mass production requirements. Multi-pass programming suits companies working with very large, heavy duty, costly plate in small batches for oil and gas and wind energy projects.

For manufacturers who are continuing to adopt Industry 4.0 and Industrial Internet of Things practices, the iRoll eXtreme easily plugs into a plant’s Manufacturing Enterprise System or Enterprise Resource Planning network. In addition to collecting data, the control’s report mode can give the operator a snap shot in real time of the machine’s production status. It can also call up historical records. Talk & Watch with Smart Glasses makes troubleshooting and remote support easy.

By monitoring the pulse of its customers, DAVI has kept its eye on looking for ways to increase productivity with the lowest burden rate. “Our aim is to be one step ahead of the market by using a proactive versus a reactive approach that continues to push rolling into the future,” says Soffritti.  FFJ


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