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Revamping circuit breakers at AGC

Major turnaround and expansion at glass manufacturer

For a glass manufacturer, their furnace is the beating heart of their factory. After years of dedicated service, that very heart was in need of restoration. That is why as part of a major turnaround, AGC Glass Europe decided to refurbish their production line.

The glass of your smartphone. That of the touchscreen in your car. And that of the solar panels on ArcelorMittal’s site. Chances are that the glass of at least one of these three was made here in Belgium. More specifically at AGC Glass Europe in Mol. The glass manufacturer’s plant focuses on thin glass for more complex applications.

And that represents a change of focus. Accordingly, their processes had to be adjusted to accommodate that increasing complexity. The company is therefore investing 75 million euros in an upgrade of its existing production line, in addition to an expansion.

“New installations automatically mean new electrical control panels”, says service manager Stijn Cuppens. “But two scenarios apply to upgrades of existing production lines. That was also the open question that AGC asked us: Are we going for new control panels or can we upgrade our existing ones? In the latter case, we’ll keep what’s good and replace what’s well past its prime.”

Revamp circuit breakers

“Then it’s up to us to give AGC everything it needs to make the right choice for themselves.”

“We always do this in the same systematic way. First of all, we map out the objectives to be achieved. What will the new production process look like? What role will the electrical control panels play in this? Then we scrutinise the status of the existing control panels. What part of those will work in the new scenario? What is hopelessly outdated?”

“We then work out both scenarios based on the answers to these questions. From costs to timing, to pros and cons. This is our strength as an all- round control panel specialist: we can accurately estimate both scenarios. Thus AGC was provided with all the facts and figures based on which they would be able to take a decision.”

“In this instance, they opted for a revamp. The control panels themselves were more than thirty years old, but over the years some components had already been replaced. And they were still in good shape – in which case it’s a shame to let these investments go waste.”

Exact price setting, clear timing

“The next step is to refine the chosen scenario. We go into all the details for this. We scrutinise each control panel separately, and examine each installation location. In this way, we map out an action plan for each control cabinet. We then translate this into a plan of action for the entire project: with an exact price setting and clear timing. This ensured that both AGC and we had a clear overview of the scope, timing and budget. We refer to this guideline in every discussion. This ensures that AGC is aware of where exactly in the project trajectory we are, at all times during work execution. I think it’s important that we can offer them that structure.”

Energy monitoring

“Another important aspect: energy monitoring. This is an aspect that is becoming increasingly more important in an ever increasing number of manufacturing companies. It is perfectly possible to map out how much energy it takes to make a particular product. Per metre, cubic metre, kilogram, etc.”, concludes Stijn. “There is a solution for every budget. From basic to advanced. By making the right choices during construction or overhaul, we can facilitate the retrofitting of certain components.”

De revamp van de schakelaars gebeurde in verschillende fases.

About the revamp and expansion

Revamping of 141 circuit breakers, ranging from 63A to 4000A.

  • Copper processing
  • Rebuilding electrical control panels with self-made panels

Engineering and Caneco studies

Construction of seven distribution boards