Project Spotlight: Structural Steel Accumulator Tower


Swanton Welding Company Inc., located in Ohio, recently completed work on the construction of two structural steel accumulator towers for a customer in the greater Detroit area.  Accumulator towers like these are important tools used in the coating of sheet metal.

The Purpose of an Accumulator Tower

A patent, US 6004629 A, published by the U.S Patent and Trademark Office in 1999, described an improved process for the coating of sheet metal.  In short, the coating process requires that the oven needs to be maintained at a constant temperature, the sheet metal needs to be continuous, and it must progress through an oven at a constant velocity.  It is essential that a surplus length of sheet metal be supplied after the welder/joiner stage of the process.

This excess length is provided by a structure called the accumulator.  The accumulator is normally a tower in which the surplus sheet metal is looped back and forth on itself in a bending manner.  The ends of the loops are wrapped around moveable rollers. Without getting into too much detail, a second accumulator needs to be situated before the shear and recoil mechanisms of the process. This is because the sheet metal is constantly exiting the oven at a uniform rate of speed.  The second accumulator contains the sheet metal when it is being transferred from one of the recoil mechanisms to the other.

Construction of the Accumulator Towers

accumulator2.jpgSwanton Welding Company was able to finish construction on the two structural steel accumulator towers in just eight weeks.  The two towers are similar in design and pictures of them can be found on the Swanton Welding website.  The entry side of the tower is in the forefront of the picture and the exit side can be viewed in the distance.

The materials used in the construction were:

  • Structural Steel
  • Stairs
  • Rails
  • Special Guarding for a Conveyor Chain

The fabrication method that Swanton employed was Ficep Beam Line. Ficep Beam Line incorporates scribing information automatically which designates the layout locations for subsequent fitting. This information can be obtained as a single XML file with software that both produces the hole location data and the part size, and creates the CNC machine program to inscribe the necessary layout information on the main member and on the detail parts.

Following this, the towers were blast cleaned to SSPC standard SP 6 which is essentially commercial level blast cleaning. They were then painted.  The dimensions of the towers are as follows:

  • Entry side is 53 feet tall
  • Exit side is 40 feet tall
  • Both entry and exit tower = 180 tons (360,000 lbs) of structural steel, 850 feet of guardrail, and 140 stair risers equalling 12 sets of stairs

This recent customer of Swanton Welding made a special request that the project be finish-painted before it was provided to them. Due to the structural steel towers being assembled in the field, they necessitated very little need for touch up to the finish paint.

This was a massive project, but SWC gladly took it on and returned a product that matched the client’s needs in full, within their budget and their time frame. We can do the same for your company! If you have a fabrication project, large or small, contact us.

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