Building a future-proof solution

Roth has over 550 filament winding machines in use around the world
Roth has over 550 filament winding machines in use around the world

Roth Composite Machinery has grown to become a leading light in specialised filament winding machinery construction. Managing director, Dr Andreas Reimann explains why customers can rely on the company’s knowledge and experience.

With over 550 filament winding machines in use around the world, Roth Composite Machinery can look back on almost 60 years of experience in the development of filament winding machines. Such equipment manufactures filament winding products of up to 125 tons in weight and 30m component length are worldwide trusted upon in serial operation. The company’s product portfolio comprises winding machines with up to twelve CNC axes.

Roth Composite Machinery has almost three decades of experience in the manufacture of fully-automated production lines - including pressure tanks for water, LPG, CNG and hydrogen - and components for the space and aerospace industries.

Q) Firstly, please bring me up to speed with your latest company news?

We have rented some additional mounting areas that enable us to process our orders in a logistically effective manner and better serve our customers promptly. We have also invested in a new crane system for our assembly line and expanded our warehousing to meet current supply chain challenges.

Roth Composite Machinery managing director, Dr Andreas Reimann
Roth Composite Machinery managing director, Dr Andreas Reimann

Our new FWA 1 Duplex filament winding machine concept for the large-scale production of pressure vessels - particularly for the automotive industry - is a great success. It achieves twice the productivity of our current market-leading standard. Our research into the production potential of a five-spindle Roth Duplex machine have shown that it’s possible to wind five 300-litre composite pressure tanks in 1 hour 9 minutes using the wet process, and in just 36 minutes using towpreg.

This means that a net cycle time of 7.2 minutes (13.8 minutes in the wet winding process) for one tank is achievable with a five-spindle Roth FWA 1 Duplex machine. This concept has successfully launched into the market. We are preparing contracts with OEM customers and are in the project planning stage of the application and customer-specific functional scopes. Automotive Tier One suppliers are very interested in our new machine concept. Overall, we see an increasing demand for machines to produce tanks especially for compressed hydrogen.

This October, Roth Composite Machinery will be exhibiting at CAMX in Anaheim, as well as the Hydrogen Technology Expo in Bremen.

Q) What kinds of performance demands are placed on your company by today’s customers?

Roth Composite Machinery is known as a reliable partner supplying high quality production lines that meet the performance demands regarding full automation, increasing processes’ productivity, low maintenance, longevity and durability. Customers require innovative machine concepts that are tailor-made to their production requirements.

The technology involved also requires a high level of customer service, including consultation, planning, advise in machine operation and for example the kinds of filaments that are needed to achieve the requested product properties and the respective quality. Finally, as a machine builder we need to react very flexibly with regard to customer requirements.

Q) What are the current types of solutions you are being asked to build for your customers?

The aerospace and automotive industries, plus those industries involved in new sustainable mobility concepts are increasingly benefiting from our products. Among them are manufacturers of high-pressure tanks for compressed hydrogen, natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas vessels.

Roth’s filament winding machines are used to manufacture hydrogen tanks
Roth’s filament winding machines are used to manufacture hydrogen tanks

Essentially, our customers benefit from receiving application-specific machines that are tailor-made for their needs. Our machines are a higher-quality and therefore provide a longer-lasting solution, with the corresponding robustness against process disturbances or failure safety. Customers who focus on overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) tend to choose Roth Composite Machinery.

Q) What application areas currently offer Roth the most potential?

New power train technologies based on hydrogen or natural gas, for example, are gaining more and more importance for resource-saving mobility solutions. These applications hold a great potential for composites technology and are therefore very interesting for our sector. For the economic storage of these types of fuel in vehicles, pressure vessels of type IV are suitable. They are based on a thermoplastic inner tank - also called a liner - reaching the necessary pressure stability by fibre reinforcement using the filament winding process.

Type IV pressure vessels are characterised by their tremendous lightness and safety and are therefore interesting for numerous applications in the mobility sector. We have the expertise and experience in the development and building of machines for the manufacture of such vessels. Currently, we have several large orders from customers that will massively expand the production of large commercial vehicle tanks. The focus here is on special developments in process and material efficiency, as well as automation of parts handling.

Q) How much consideration are you giving to the use of automation?

The automotive sector’s serial production requires high levels of process repeatability and production accuracy. This can only be done with high quality standard machinery and high levels of automation. With more than 30 years of experience in the development of fully-automated machine concepts for Filament Winding plants we can satisfy the increasing demand for these kinds of requests. 

Q) What are the main focus areas of your current R&D efforts?

Further to the development of machines for the mass production of hydrogen tanks with the filament winding process in connection with future mobility concepts, we are researching to improve process efficiency, set-up time reduction, material efficiency and machine robustness - despite the addition of more complex functions - and also perform R&D concerning improvements of performance and automation. To drive research forward, we’re also partner of scientific working groups in universities and participating in other industry partnerships too.

Q) Do your partnerships offer lasting benefits, particularly as trusted relationships can lead to a better way forward for all?

Our long-term and partnership-based connections on both the purchasing and customer sides are now paying off. The current challenges are affecting the whole industry and many other industries at the same time - it is an international crisis. Many raw materials are in short supply, so we are struggling every day to maintain production availability.

Roth develops tailor-made plants for individual customer requirements
Roth develops tailor-made plants for individual customer requirements

In addition, there are rising energy prices and, due to long delivery times, we already have to buy raw materials at top prices, some of which we will not need until next year. Customers and suppliers are currently going through the ups and downs of market development with us. This only works in trusting partnerships.

Q) Finally, what do you feel are the most important assets of a company?

It’s a combination of a number of things. We have created a framework with our newly-developed Code of Conduct. Roth Composite Machinery is a company of Roth Industries, a value-based family driven company. Familiar, dynamic and responsible action are the three pillars of the corporate principles of the Roth family business. With our Code of Conduct, we expressly acknowledge our social responsibility in the context of our entrepreneurial activities and create secure guidelines for our actions. It defines and regulates the responsibility of our company and our employees in their dealings with business partners, society and each other.

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