Automatic crane transport – the superlative solution

Gutmann AG

As part of a comprehensive modernisation programme, in collaboration with H+H Herrmann + Hieber the Hermann Gutmann works in Weißenburg, Bavaria, has modernised section transport in the extrusion plant with the help of a highly dynamic automatic crane (process crane).  As a result the plant’s productivity has been substantially boosted.


The Gutmann extrusion plant in Weißenburg was modernised and extended at considerably investment cost. For the new planning, Gutmann collaborated closely with H+H Herrmann + Hieber, a co-operation that goes back to 1994.

In this modernisation project two presses, with the associated heat treatment, storage and packing facilities, were combined in a closed, automated transport system. In that system, starting at the section stackers, the material is transported automatically through the plant.

At the planning stage it was decided to position the crane track of the new automatic crane transversely to the press direction. With this layout the crane can perform additional distribution functions since the section racks can be taken directly to the storage areas, the ageing furnaces and the packing workstations.

The automatic crane (process crane) installed in this case can carry out the material transport for two extrusion presses, the section store, all the ageing furnaces, the packing system and in addition the scrap transport.  That amounts to a new dimension with a dynamic never before achieved.

Owing to structural constraints the overall width of the three-axis automatic crane could not exceed 13 metres. Nevertheless, this special crane can deal with two rack stacks, each eight metres long, positioned one behind the other. The carriage, with an integrated gripper, can move the racks through under the crane track. That principle is also used when serving the ageing furnaces. Thanks to this measure the number of ageing furnaces needed and the store capacity required for the packing area could be made available.

The arrangement of the automatic crane entailed solving a series of detail problems, among them:

  • Since the racks project on both sides beyond the crane track, it had to be ensured that the crane track supports in the store area would not collide with the racks being transported.
  • Another important aspect was the exposure of the crane to high temperatures while serving the top-loaded ageing furnaces. When the furnace is open, the crane and its track are exposed almost to the furnace temperature.