Feuerwehrauto

The pump is the heart

The ultimate vehicle: 4,500 litres of fire-extinguishing water, 400 litres of foam, nine crew members on board, plus all the tools and hydraulic rescue equipment necessary to provide help as quickly as possible in the event of an accident on the motorway. Wilfried Thelen, head of the volunteer fire service in Aldenhoven near Aachen, and the members of his unit have high expectations of a fire-fighting vehicle. "Putting out fires, rescuing accident victims and clearing the road for traffic again: we have to do all that under intense stress while maintaining the utmost concentration," says Thelen.

"For that we need a real all-rounder that will operate fully automatic extinguishing and pump systems, transport as much extinguishing agent (water, foam) and as many crew members as possible and, at the same time, still have enough space for technical equipment. Rosenbauer offers us exactly the all-round performer we need." The AT (AT stands for "Aluminium Technology") is a "classic" among municipal emergency vehicles. "It is our first fire-fighting vehicle from this manufacturer," says Thelen. And it was a good investment. "Whereas previously we had to take two vehicles out, now one is enough."

The firefighters from Aldenhoven are particularly impressed by the fully automatic extinguishing and pump technology. "When I clap my hands, it has to work," says Thelen, summing up with a grin the demands on the technology. Even though it is not quite as simple as that, despite being so high-tech, it is important to keep the set-up and operating times as short as possible when deploying the fire-fighting equipment at the site of a fire or accident. "At the push of a button, the pump goes into automatic mode and no longer has to be monitored by our people during operation," says Thelen. "Anything that runs automatically is a help to our emergency service personnel. It means that we can concentrate all our efforts on firefighting and rescue."

High tech for the heart

Retracing the Aldenhoven fire service's search for this solution leads us to Leonding near Linz, in Upper Austria, where Rosenbauer, one of the world's leading manufacturers of fire-fighting equipment, has its production facility. "The extinguishing water pump is the beating heart of any fire-fighting vehicle," says Michael Schöftner, head of mechanical production of fire-extinguishing systems at Rosenbauer, as we make our way to the "pump line" in Plant I. Michael Wizany is at the set-up station there, in the process of aligning a cast aluminium part for a pump distributor for further processing in the milling machine. It is no conventional computer-controlled CNC milling machine that the 28-year-old is operating. His workstation is conspicuously different and is recognisable from some distance away. It is a four-metre-tall, light-grey round tower, with Liebherr RLS 800 written on it in large letters. "The rotary loading system is located upstream of our milling and drill-machining centre," says Schöftner. Small windows in the tower afford a clear view of 21 pallet spaces in which Michael Wizany can place up to 63 different water pump components ready for fully automatic precision machining. "In this way, we can very precisely fit the order-specific production of pump elements into the cutting, turning and milling process," explains Wizany.


Liebherr_RLS800

The Liebherr RLS 800 rotary loading system

The rotary loading system from Liebherr is an automation solution which is connected upstream of the machining of parts as an intelligent transport and storage system. The aim: to lower production costs and enable rapid and flexible responses to demand changes in the market, while simultaneously providing maximum user-friendliness, quality and reliability. The machine can independently process 21 pallets containing up to 63 components with up to four hours follow-on production time. During this time, there doesn't have to be an operator standing at the machine.

The RLS 800 is the most productive machine we have. The time saving in production alone is in the order of 30 to 50 per cent.

Michael Schöftner

More productive than ever

"Automation with the aid of the rotary loading system is another milestone for us, enabling us to further customise the manufacture of our pumps and to be very flexible, producing exactly to customer requirements," says Michael Schöftner. "This allows us to work with smaller batch sizes and even, if required, to run a just-in-time production system." The entire system also takes individual delivery dates into account and can be adjusted dynamically according to what the priorities are. And this can be achieved with consistently high efficiency. "Here, we produce an average of 2,000 to 2,500 parts a month, at peak times even 4,000, and this with an error rate of no more than 0.4 per cent," says Michael Wizany. "The RLS 800 is the most productive machine we have," adds Schöftner, the head of production. The time saving in production alone is in the order of 30 to 50 per cent.

Automation will not make people superfluous. On the contrary, the expertise of operators is indispensable in production and will remain so.

Michael Schöftner

Automation: there is still a need for professionals

"We work a two-shift cycle on the Liebherr machine, but thanks to automation, we can continue production for up to four hours after the end of the shift. The next morning, the employee coming on shift simply takes off the parts that have been machined overnight and can set up new workpieces," explains production manager Michael Schöftner. There is no reason to fear that people will become superfluous. "Trained operators will always be needed. Their expertise in materials science and in assessing the status of the machine, the loading system and the components is essential." Michael Wizany, who has two-and-a-half years' experience in this field, realised a long time ago that "Automated systems will always need professionals to operate them. You always have to be on the ball. For me, that is what makes working with the latest technology so exciting."

RLS 800: Next level efficiency

  • Spacesaver
    The RLS 800 combines low spatial requirements with a high storage density. Access to the processing centres is from the front.

    Spacesaver

    The RLS 800 combines low spatial requirements with a high storage density. Access to the processing centres is from the front.

  • Smart control
    Modern cell control allows for a wide range of industrial 4.0 functions. The RLS is therefore programmed for the future.

    Smart control

    Modern cell control allows for a wide range of industrial 4.0 functions. The RLS is therefore programmed for the future.

  • Modularly expandable
    The RLS 800 can be combined with two processing centres and set-up stations. If the number of pallet storage spaces is the same, there is the option for two rotary storage towers. As is already done for unmanned operation.

    Modularly expandable

    The RLS 800 can be combined with two processing centres and set-up stations. If the number of pallet storage spaces is the same, there is the option for two rotary storage towers. As is already done for unmanned operation.

  • Bespoke production
    The combination of the RLS and two processing centres allows for highly individual, order-based production. In modern supply chains, this is in demand as never before.

    Bespoke production

    The combination of the RLS and two processing centres allows for highly individual, order-based production. In modern supply chains, this is in demand as never before.

  • Fired up about rescue work

    Michael Wizany's fascination with technology is fuelled by his fascination with the fire service. "Many of my colleagues are themselves volunteer firefighters. They are really passionate about it." This means that when it comes to innovations in designing and equipping the vehicles, there is always plenty of practical experience to draw on. Right at the top of Rosenbauer's agenda is the need to reduce the weight of vehicles and to ensure that operating them is as easy and intuitive as possible. "Nowadays, because there are more and more women and older firefighters on active service, it is important for people with less physical strength to be able to do the work," says Michael Schöftner. "That's why our technology is aimed at making it possible for on-duty firefighters to work more efficiently, safely, ergonomically and in a more environmentally friendly way."

    
Feuerwehrauto

    Fire engines for the whole world

    Rosenbauer obviously has its finger firmly on the pulse of the industry here. Rosenbauer produces approximately 2,500 vehicles worldwide, which are deployed around the globe - in Europe and the USA, in Asia, in the Arab states and in South America. This means constantly having to meet different sets of requirements and standards. They manufacture around 2,000 versions of the pump alone – without automation, this wouldn't really be economically viable nowadays. Fitted with the appropriately configured peripherals and equipped with suction device, venting device, pump pressure regulator, foam premixing system, pipework and controls, the pump is then installed in the vehicle as a ready-to-install component.

    
Illustration Panther

    Maximum power for the airport:

    The Panther is one of Rosenbauer's flagship products. It is a firefighting colossus that was specially designed for use at airports and can transport up to 19,000 litres of water in its tank. The technology, the chassis and the customised design are all produced by Rosenbauer. Depending on the engine type, the Panther can accelerate from 0 to 80 kilometres per hour in 25 seconds or less. With the Panther, the hoses can be charged even at full speed. The roof and bumper turrets are designed for an output of 10,000 litres per minute and a throw range of up to 90 metres.

    The Panther

  • Red giant
    The Rosenbauer panther is one of the most popular vehicles for airport fire brigades. From Leonding they are sent out all over the world.

    Red giant

    The Rosenbauer panther is one of the most popular vehicles for airport fire brigades. From Leonding they are sent out all over the world.

  • Smooth operation
    There is nothing like reliability: at the test site in Leonding, every vehicle has to show what it can do.

    Smooth operation

    There is nothing like reliability: at the test site in Leonding, every vehicle has to show what it can do.

  • Connectable
    The pump and control systems are high-tech, and can be operated very intuitively.

    Connectable

    The pump and control systems are high-tech, and can be operated very intuitively.

  • Powerful
    The water cannons can shoot over a distance of 40 metres on the test site. Airport fire brigades have to be able to fight fires efficiently at a distance in the shortest possible time.

    Powerful

    The water cannons can shoot over a distance of 40 metres on the test site. Airport fire brigades have to be able to fight fires efficiently at a distance in the shortest possible time.

  • 
Illustration Feuerwehrauto

    For town and country:

    Municipal vehicles, such as those in the AT range, account for more than half of Rosenbauer's annual production. AT stands for “Aluminium Technology”, since the frame (also developed by Rosenbauer), which is later wedded to the chassis, is made of aluminium. The water tanks for these vehicles hold up to 4,500 litres of extinguishing water. They are used as fire-fighting and rescue vehicles by countless fire services.

    
Illustration Pumpe

    The "miracle" pump

    Rosenbauer's mechanical pump production facility manufactures firefighting pumps for all manner of applications. Besides special truck-mounted pumps, which are installed in the firefighting vehicles, the product range of the established plant in Leonding also includes submersible pumps and stationary motor-driven pumps, which are used in particular for protecting industrial premises and for flood protection.

    Combined truck-mounted pumps can pump out extinguishing water either at normal pressure or at high pressure. At high pressure, a pump can deliver up to 250 litres a minute at 40 bar. It can be turned on or off during operation simply by opening up or shutting off the water intake.

    On the way to the pump

  • Well equipped
    Michael Wizany at the RLS 800 set-up station, assembling the distributor part for further processing in the milling station.

    Well equipped

    Michael Wizany at the RLS 800 set-up station, assembling the distributor part for further processing in the milling station.

  • Tidied up
    Workpieces are "parked" in the storage rack based on a "chaotic" storage system. These can then be taken automatically from the lift module for order-based processing.

    Tidied up

    Workpieces are "parked" in the storage rack based on a "chaotic" storage system. These can then be taken automatically from the lift module for order-based processing.

  • Assembled
    After milling, drilling and anodisation, components are brought together in the pump assembly. One hundred percent accuracy is a must, so that the pump can withstand high water pressure.

    Assembled

    After milling, drilling and anodisation, components are brought together in the pump assembly. One hundred percent accuracy is a must, so that the pump can withstand high water pressure.

  • Custom built
    Part of the daily output in Leonding stands ready for shipment or final assembly. Truck-mounted pumps for airfield, industrial or municipal fire-fighting vehicles are just as integral as fire-extinguishing pumps for stationary applications.

    Custom built

    Part of the daily output in Leonding stands ready for shipment or final assembly. Truck-mounted pumps for airfield, industrial or municipal fire-fighting vehicles are just as integral as fire-extinguishing pumps for stationary applications.

  • 
Illustration Pinsel

    Water colours: fire services worldwide and their signal colours

    Not everything that puts out fires is red. While in continental Europe most vehicles deployed by fire services are bright red, in certain areas of Switzerland (mainly in Zurich canton) they draw attention to themselves through their gaudy lemon-yellow colour. In Swaziland and the United Arab Emirates, too, yellow is the colour that signals alarm.

    In the USA, the individual counties of a state decide the colours of their vehicles for themselves. Depending on preference and tradition, the vehicles may be painted red, yellow, yellow/green, white or blue, for example.

    
Feuerwehrauto

    Extinguishing fires with a lantern

    For installation in municipal or airport fire engines, the pump will have been shuttled to the nearby Factory II. Prior to this, it will have undergone various machining, finishing and inspection stages. The main focus here is on the pump drive. The so-called "lantern" will later establish the connection with the engine and is often supplemented with a gearbox for optimal synchronisation of the pump speed and the engine speed. During discussions about the design of their new vehicle, the Aldenhoven firefighters were particularly keen for it to have simple, fully automatic and safe user guidance and control technology.

    A fire engine as a composition

    The firefighters had already discussed beforehand all the details and special requirements in terms of vehicle and extinguishing technology with the experts at Rosenbauer. On the AT assembly line, everything they discussed goes straight into the "composition" of the Aldenhoven fire engine. At the various stations, 14 in all, the vehicle "grows" step by step. This process means that not all but very many vehicles are as unique as their customers.

    
Feuerwehrmannschaft

    Made to match

    Prior to the fitting-out of the vehicle, the Aldenhoven firefighters had discussed their operational needs right down to the last detail. One month sooner than expected, six men from the Aldenhoven volunteer fire service were finally able to turn out and collect their new vehicle from Rosenbauer's German branch plant in Luckenwalde. "Right from the beginning, our new, custom-built vehicle has been a perfect match for us," says Thelen happily. "It was clear from the very first callouts: This is exciting technology. We have already thought about what the next vehicle will be like."

    Rotary loading systems
    Rotary loading systems

    Rotary loading systems from Liebherr are distinguished by their high storage depth in relation to its footprint.

    Rotary loading systems from Liebherr
    Gear technology and automation systems
    Gear technology and automation systems

    Liebherr offers a wide selection of high quality gear cutting machines and is one of the leading specialist for automation solutions.

    Verzahntechnik und Automationssysteme
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