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20th October 2016, Prilep

Magna’s new technology for CNG tanks

The multi-axis winding machine is equipped with two winding carriages which both work with the cut and restart system. © MikrosamMikrosam, based in Prilep, Macedona, has delivered a fully automated filament winding line for Type IV premium quality CNG tanks to leading global automotive supplier Magna.

Installed at Magna’s plant in Austria, the production cell was designed to make a cost-effective lightweight CNG tank module that is 50% lighter than an equivalent steel cylinder with 40% lower energy consumption in its manufacture.

It consists of multi-spindle filament winding machines with Mikrosam’s patented solution for automated cut and restart of the fibres tape during the winding process, a robotic handling system for loading and unloading of the liners, wound tanks and cured tanks between equipment units and a high-tech curing oven suitable for a range of different resin systems.

The multi-axis winding machine is equipped with two winding carriages which both work with the cut and restart system – a primary carriage for winding of the main composite layer and a secondary one for winding the outer protective layer, so that full continuous production of CNG tanks is realised on the same machine in a single winding cycle.

In total there are 24 servomotor controlled axes integrated in the filament winding machine itself, which makes it one of the most advanced in the world built so far.

What makes the line unique line is the flexibility to change production cycles from one tank size to another. When this is required, all programmes, mechanical and electrical parts are automatically adjusted to the different size to be produced. This makes changes of each single equipment station very fast and increases the productivity of the overall line.

Control and monitoring of the work cell and the entire manufacturing process is carried out from one place, the TCON top level automation control system. It manages all modules in the line from one location while recording all important parameters, such as raw material consumption, complete production, product tracking at every station and data for the multiple quality check points.

Mikrosam has developed control software and a data acquisition system that enables users to see the line in operation, investigate it and discuss any issues before accepting. After the production cell is installed in the customer facility, continued support via remote maintenance system is guaranteed. Software is updated for the lifetime of the automated production line.

Europe is the largest growing market for natural gas vehicles NGVs, and demand from elsewhere in the world is growing fast. In response, Mikrosam has developed and enhanced the world’s most advanced fully automated high-volume production lines for filament-wound CNG, LPG, hydrogen tanks and water vessels. The company now has customers in over 40 countries.


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