Tag Archives: Berco

Berco to shed light on Aftermarket undercarriage parts spinoff plans at Bauma 2022

Berco, a leading manufacturer and supplier of undercarriage parts, has chosen Bauma 2022, in Munich, Germany, to reveal to the world the company-wide transformation which it is undergoing.

The Italy-based company is setting its path to become a truly global service provider, reaching far beyond the delivery of components for the undercarriage, to satisfy a diversity of market segments, it says.

Proximity to both Original Equipment and Aftermarket customers is at the heart of this new strategy, with data management gathered through Berco’s latest digital applications playing a key role. This, ultimately, will further strengthen its technical expertise when creating tailored solutions for each customer around the world, it says.

Berco’s transformation is designed to satisfy the market demand to meet increasingly individual requirements. To this end, Berco has decided to increase its technical presence in the geographical areas closest to its customers.

The US, first, will receive additional focus, with the company strengthening its level of support on the ground. This approach will soon be replicated in other important markets such as Asia, where Berco will not only offer support to its important Asian customers, but equally to its American and European ones, whose presence in the continent is growing.

“In collaboration with our customers, our goal is to develop the best solution for each of their specific requirements and applications in any environment, wherever in the world,” Piero Bruno (pictured), CEO of Berco, said.

The key step forward involves the placing of the Aftermarket at the centre of the company’s development. This has resulted in the creation of a spin-off, solely dedicated to the Aftermarket, with all its operations bundled. The focus of this business entity will be a customer-specific service based on a new supplychain concept. This dedicated team is headed by Diego Buffoni and located in Bologna, Italy, Berco explained.

“The core impact of this transformation process, however, is the incorporation of 4.0 digitalisation standards,” the company said. “With over 100 years of expertise in both development and engineering, Berco is now benefitting even more due to its approach to data management. Data, which are generated in the field by Berco’s latest patented ‘Smart Undercarriage’ system, as well as by the revamped ‘Bopis Life’ application, are evaluated and processed through the company’s R&D department. The data archive will be the source for any future systems solutions for both Original Equipment and the Aftermarket.”

Berco’s solutions will be presented and on display at Bauma 2022, at the thyssenkrupp Group, during the event, which takes place on October 24-30.

Berco launches new version of Bopis Life cloud-based monitoring platform

Berco, a leader in the production and supply of undercarriage components for manufacturers of tracked earthmoving machinery, is launching new versions of its Bopis Life mobile and web applications.

Bopis Life is a cloud-based platform allowing customers to monitor the rate of wear of each undercarriage component and, thus, to know the parts’ remaining service life. As well as providing extremely important information for end users, the data collected in the field and archived by Bopis Life allows Berco to improve its own technology constantly, in terms of product development and production processes, the company says.

Luca Bellintani, Berco’s Field Engineer, explains: “The undercarriage is a source of high maintenance costs for owners of tracked machines. Berco is, therefore, continuing to develop more user-friendly, all-round digital solutions to monitor the wear of components. Bopis Life allows the customer to monitor the wear of components, and to optimise planning of warehouse provision and operational efficiency, leading to a significant reduction in TCO (total cost of ownership)”.

The updated version of the Bopis Life application, which can be installed on any PC, tablet or smartphone, allows dealers or field engineering technicians to upload the properties of the machine inspected, along with the location data. With a clear context for analysis, technicians can begin the inspection, and record on the Bopis Life app all the data gathered from measurements of the undercarriage parts. Assessments can be taken with manual tool kits, or with ultrasound devices connected via Bluetooth to the tablet or smartphone. Ultrasound devices give more accurate values and cut the time needed for measurement and data processing, Berco says.

The data gathered using the Bopis Life mobile app is uploaded to the cloud and compared with the wear limits shown in the Berco (Bopis) online product catalogue. This gives the rate of wear and the remaining service life of the component concerned. The undercarriage parts measured are the chains and their sub-components (links, bushing and shoes), carrier rollers, track rollers, idlers and sprockets.

On the Bopis Life web portal, the accredited user will find a dashboard showing the geographical details of the location of the machines and the list of individual inspections, with the details of who carried them out. A second display shows the condition of each component and any sub-components, identified with photos; position on left and right side of the machine; code; operating hours; and rate of wear and remaining lifespan, calculated at 100% and 120%. The latter limit is identified by Berco as that beyond which structural collapse may occur.

In the updated web version of Bopis Life, graphs are given showing hours of use for each component, and remaining service life expected for each sub-component (chains) and most worn part, with warnings appearing when the wear rate exceeds 100% and 120%. Further graphs are present, showing the wear rate of each component, measured on the right and left sides, so that any deformities are noted immediately. All the information is then available to the customer, together with suggestions for minimising the need for emergency intervention.

The Bopis Life platform is used throughout the world and can be widely accessed, according to the company. Berco also uses data relating to the numerous inspections carried out up to the present collected through Bopis Life for benchmarking, they confirm the performance levels of its products as similar to and in some cases even better than those of the leading manufacturers, it says. The Platinum Line for the Aftermarket within Berco, developed to operate in extreme conditions, of high impact and high abrasiveness, belong to the latter category: having exceptional results, with performances 25-60% better than on original installation, according to the company.

Berco’s mining undercarriage transition takes shape in Copparo

With the opening of Berco’s new R&D facility in Copparo, Italy, the manufacturer and supplier of undercarriage systems and components has cemented a growth plan that could see it gain further market share in both its OEM and aftermarket segments and expand its product range for mining applications.

Covering 2,000 sq.m, the new department is located beside the entrance of the company’s main plant, a building that captures 101 years of company history and is being updated with a new vision backed by parent company thyssenkrupp.

The new R&D hub is home to the T&I (technology and innovation) team, which will be divided into two subgroups: the metallurgical laboratory and product engineering.

Officially opened on November 17 – IM and other trade press members received a sneak peek a day earlier – the facility houses state-of-the-art machinery, specifically developed to advance the company’s strategic plans for the future.

These strategic plans date back to early 2018 when, as part of the Forged Technologies business unit, Berco developed a strategy that encompassed “lean manufacturing” and the company’s unique know-how, according to Berco CEO, Piero Bruno.

“We have a unique know-how of metallurgy within Berco,” he said during last week’s press event. “We, as part of Forged Technologies, represent a strategic pillar for thyssenkrupp. We are a core business within the group (thyssenkrupp Industrial Components).”

The latter is an important point considering the divestments thyssenkrupp has been making in recent years – which includes plans to offload its mining business to FLSmidth. Berco has been safeguarded from this corporate activity, evidenced by the recent investment in its facilities.

Berco is a rarity in the mining sector; a company able to deliver the full undercarriage (chains, rollers, drive sprockets, track adjusters, track chains or idlers) for large dozers and excavators, for both aftermarket applications and equipment manufacturers. Mining and construction represent more than 30% of its sales currently, with on-highway trucks and passenger vehicles taking up around 60% of the remaining share.

There are other undercarriage suppliers on the market, but few of them have 32,000 t and 16,000 t screw presses capable of forging the scale of products needed in heavy-duty mining applications. Even fewer have the expertise to take an industry-standard product and tailor it for longer life and increased uptime in such applications.

This puts Berco in an interesting position where, in some instances, it is producing components or complete systems that compete directly with the equipment manufacturers.

In the instance of the Cat 6020B hydraulic mining shovel, Berco has built a complete undercarriage system as an alternative to the OEM equivalent on the market.

Outside of dozers and excavators, the Berco name has also been seen on components fitted on apron feeders and bucketwheel excavators. It may also soon find its way into conveyors (on the aftermarket side) and drill rigs (for equipment manufacturers), in addition to new excavator and dozer models.

Going platinum

When it comes to mining equipment innovation from Berco, one only need look at the Platinum line of products, which are focused solely on performance in the field and operating costs.

The new Cat 6020B undercarriage (below, right) is the most recent addition to this line, also representing the first “non-captive” range available to purchase, according to the company.

With this product, Berco becomes the only company – aside from Cat – currently capable of providing what it says is a full and significantly more affordable variety of undercarriage replacement components for this particular machine.

Launched in 2014, the Cat 6020B is a 230 ton (224 t) excavator at the high end of the mining range. Depending on the abrasiveness of the soil, undercarriage components need to be replaced every four-to-five years, according to Berco, meaning there are significant numbers of this model currently due undercarriage maintenance.

For the Cat 6020B hydraulic mining shovel range, Berco used a “reverse engineering” process to deconstruct the original equipment components. Three-dimensional material scanning was carried out to gain a complete understanding of the initial design criteria, while laboratory analysis determined the materials used as well as the heat treatments and microstructures.

Berco-originated innovations that feature on this non-captive undercarriage system include the BPR2™ (Berco Positive Pin Retention2™ system) to improves the working lifetime of the components through mechanical locking of the link to the pin; a newly designed track link for the track chain with a 350 mm pitch produced using the “drop forged” process made from mild carbon steel with boron and chromium additives; and track bushings with 60 HRC hardness steel that have a high resistance to wear.

Additionally, the track roller can, because of its lubrication and seal features, adopt an “all-weather” configuration ranging from -40°C to 50°C.

The first of these new undercarriages is due to be dispatched from Copparo by the end of the year, destined for a customer in Africa.

This type of aftermarket strategy – where the company identifies a product area and develops an improved industry solution in line with expected maintenance intervals – could end up being used for future products if proven successful, Francesco Grenzi, Executive Director of R&D Department, told IM.

Grenzi and his new T&I team are integral to making this happen.

Having in the past four years added five new patents to the Berco offering, the R&D head is keen to develop products that outperform the industry standard and are tailored to the application at hand.

He can already point to several success stories in the dozer and excavator categories even before the first 6020B goes out the door.

For example, one of the company’s Platinum line undercarriage systems for dozers is outperforming the OEM equivalent by up to 25-35%. It performs in an extremely consistent manner for applications used in different conditions such as hard rock, coal or copper mines. Platinum line products are available along the complete mining dozer range, from 350 hp (261 kW) to 1,000 hp crawler dozers.

Other Platinum line products already on the market include high strength track link, ground engaging tools and its Robustus (ROtating BUShing Track Undercarriage System) solution.

Diego Buffoni, Head of Aftermarket, said these products represent a “niche” for the company when compared with the thousands of components and systems Berco produces on an annual basis, but their development also provides “an open door” for other sales.

“The Platinum line will contribute to growth, but it will not be the main driver,” he said. “It will help with our marketing presence, though…where we are able to show that Berco has a solution for every application worldwide.”

The development of such ‘best of breed’ solutions will have a knock-on impact on all the products that come out of Copparo, according to Bruno.

“If you look at F1, for example, you can see what manufacturers can produce for high-performance sports cars when budgets are not scrutinised or restricted to the same extent as they are in traditional markets,” he told IM.

“We see the Platinum line as potentially uplifting the wider Berco portfolio, which will also have a positive impact on the products going to our OEM customers.”

Automation and digitalisation

Observations like this are now being backed up by an increased focus on digitalisation and remote monitoring of Berco products.

This starts with digital records of tests in the new R&D facility – where there is a benchmark room, a metallurgical lab, a revamped roller test bench, updated rubber testing machines able to perform cryostatic tests for anticipated performance at very low temperatures and a new spectrometer machine, to name a few innovations – through to automated data analysis during the manufacturing process to ensure products are matched to their final applications, and finally 3D geometric scans for product benchmarking against the competition.

The company’s Bopis Life system has now moved onto generation two where undercarriage measurement and wear conditions are monitored remotely using ultrasonic probes. This enables predictive maintenance of critical parts, while supporting fleet management, the company said. Berco currently has 15 licences for this system, backed up by 22 ultrasonic probes that provide such feedback. This is some improvement on the ‘traditional’ monitoring of undercarriage components that normally takes place on mine sites with callipers and clipboards.

Berco is also looking to add in-built sensors to track links to provide real-time wear performance data that customers and company technicians can use to improve machine uptime. These are termed “smart undercarriages”.

The digitalisation and innovation do not end here.

What is perhaps most impressive about the 101-year-old company is its willingness to change with the times.

In 2018, it brought in Mario Andaloni as Chief Operating Officer to steer a €40 million ($44.9 million) project to refurbish and invest in the company’s facilities in Copparo.

This massive job has seen the company de-centralise its energy sources to a much more efficient and modern heating system that will achieve a 13% decrease in gas consumption in the first year alone; re-design the steel yard in line with a ‘lean manufacturing’ methodology; reorient its forging, heat treatment and shoes areas; and significantly reduce the company’s waste footprint. A more strategic and efficient use of robots in the manufacturing process is also coming to the fore.

The principles that Andaloni has instilled are set to pay off when it comes to the output of equipment.

When asked what impact the project was likely to have on product turnaround times when completed in 2023, he said the aim was for products that required no forging or component additions to take five days to manufacture. When forging and components were added on, the target was 10 days.

“Currently we are around 20 days duration for the complete process,” he told IM. “Before we started this new lean manufacturing strategy, we were around 35 days to make products; that was without forging included.”

These durations don’t include the raw material deliveries into Copparo and transport requirements from the facility, but they are a major signal of the company’s intent to make a real impact on the undercarriage supply chain.

The initiation of an e-commerce platform for Berco aftermarket dealers across the globe – due to launch in late January – will make the company “more agile, more flexible, more in line with the needs of today’s global market”, Bruno said. It will inevitably capitalise on the work Andaloni and his team have been doing on optimising the factory workflow, too, allowing customers to see product availability as well as potential lead times.

All these developments are setting Berco up to capitalise on increased demand from both the mining and construction sectors, with it anticipating future sales increases across both its aftermarket and OEM segments into the future.

On the latter, Buffoni said there was potential to address a market worth some €23 billion in the future with key production additions and developments backed up by an aftermarket organisation that is proactive and flexible. He currently saw Berco playing in a €2 billion market, divided 50:50 between mining and construction.

His counterpart on the OEM side, Fedele Salvatore (Head of Sales OEM), said there were many opportunities to grow its own 13% market share in the €2 billion undercarriage global original equipment market through a “funnel” approach that included more engagement with existing and new original equipment customers, entries into new regional markets in key areas such as Asia and further diversification of the product line.

A re-focus on providing complete undercarriage systems, as opposed to components, would also go some way to achieving growth aims.

What is clear is that the Berco name, 101 years after its birth, has a bright future in the mining segment. By the end of 2023, it will have the equipment and infrastructure to serve a market in need of robust solutions for today’s and tomorrow’s mines.

Berco bolsters Excavator Line with Cat 6020B undercarriage replacement range

Berco, a leader in the manufacturing and supply of undercarriages and components to OEMs and the aftermarket, has reached another milestone with the launch of its complete undercarriage replacement range for the Cat 6020B hydraulic mining shovel.

Developed specifically for the high-quality demand mining segment of the aftermarket, this is the first “non-captive” range available to purchase, according to the company. This means that aside from Cat, Berco is the only company currently capable of providing a full and significantly more affordable variety of undercarriage replacement components for this particular machine, Berco said.

Launched in 2014, the Cat 6020B is a 230 ton (224 t) excavator at the high end of the mining range. Depending on the abrasiveness of the soil, undercarriage components need to be replaced every four-to-five years, according to Berco, meaning there are significant numbers of this particular model currently due undercarriage maintenance. This number, moreover, is forecast to grow in the coming years.

To meet this demand, Berco is supplying a full range of undercarriage components including the chain, the bottom rollers, the top rollers, the drive sprocket and idlers with supports. Everything is set to be available from September onwards.

“These machines must be capable of working in harsh environments for 20-24 hours a day without stopping, because when the main excavator on a site is out of service, it has a direct knock-on effect on all of the secondary machines,” Diego Buffoni, Head of Aftermarket Berco, said. “We are particularly proud of this new range launch, which will offer a great business opportunity for our partner distributors worldwide. On top of Berco’s acclaimed high quality, which it provides, it also signifies the path we are on, which is to supply comprehensive and affordable solutions to all aftermarket customers.”

For the Cat 6020B hydraulic mining shovel range, Berco used a “reverse engineering” process to deconstruct the original equipment components. Three-dimensional material scanning was carried out to gain a complete understanding of the initial design criteria, while laboratory analysis determined the materials used as well as the heat treatments and microstructures.

“Having gained a full understanding of all of the components in question, company engineers then proceeded to develop their very own Berco-quality aftermarket undercarriage system, which is further boosted by the addition of another Berco innovation: BPR2™ (Berco Positive Pin Retention2™ system),” the company said. “This improves the working lifetime of the components by mechanically locking the link to the pin which results in the avoidance of ‘end-play generation’ and ‘pin walking’ in an undercarriage.”

For the track chain, a newly designed track link with a 350 mm pitch was produced using the “drop forged” process made from a mild carbon steel grade with boron. Unlike the original equipment product, however, the chemical composition of the Berco version is enriched with chromium to increase tensile resistance. In addition, the track bushing has a high resistance to wear. With 60 HRC hardness, it can contain pitch elongation, according to the company. The case depth has also been increased by 20-25% when compared with the original. The track pin, moreover, has deeper case depth and higher core hardiness, resulting in an improved bending load resistance, Berco said.

The track roller can, because of its lubrication and seal features, adopt an “all-weather” configuration, ranging from -40°C to 50°C. Additionally, three top rollers without a central flange support the heavy weight of the chain, and the oil filling hole has been moved to the outer collar to ensure full access to it.

With Berco’s Dozer Line already complete, the launch of its range for the Cat 6020B hydraulic mining shovel brings the company closer to finishing its Excavator Line too.

Accounting for a large portion of all aftermarket sales, Berco says the mining market segment is of particular importance to it. The company is now looking to further strengthen its position by extending its mining ranges and becoming the only high-quality alternative to OEM components.

Berco on the latest innovations in mining undercarriage solutions

Berco, part of the thyssenkrupp Forged Technologies Business Unit, is continuing to innovate within the undercarriage component market segment, with Francesco Grenzi, Executive Director of R&D, talking up some of the company’s most recent solutions for demanding applications like mining.

With over 100 years of experience and expertise in the industry, Berco says it manufactures and supplies undercarriage components to the world’s leading heavy machinery OEMs and to the aftermarket.

“Universally renowned for the very high quality of its products, Berco’s reputation is further bolstered by its dedication to providing tailor-made and innovative solutions for applications that operate in both unique and extreme conditions,” Grenzi says.

A recent challenge for Berco has been that of extending the number of hours of its mining excavator application.

“Because of the work efficiency of the most advanced mining excavators, as well as the extremely different working modes used in the open-pit mines, the goal of achieving 20,000 maintenance-free hours was indeed a difficult one,” Grenzi said.

The traveling rate of an undercarriage is also something that can significantly vary between applications. When blasting is being carried out, for example, the heavy machinery will naturally be evacuated from the area before detonation. In situations such as this, the use of carburised bushings is recommended to reduce the speed of wear.

For applications that do not travel frequently, however, undercarriage parts are still often subjected to wear. Continuous hammering of the front shovel, for example, may not lead to quick wear of the bushings, but can cause other side effects such as cracks on bushings.

Berco’s solution in this case was to use both quenched and tempered, and induction hardening and tempering bushings, as well as a quenched and tempered steel with boron to increase hardenability. These specially produced bushings deliver even more added value when fitted on reinforced chains, Grenzi said.

This solution, which is designed for heavy application such as for track chains used on 200-400 t machines, provides high resistance to wear as well as outstanding resistance to impact, according to Grenzi. Being capable of achieving up to 20,000 hours of use in the field, it ultimately reduces ownership and undercarriage costs. Since November 2020, they have been fitted as original equipment on two of the machines the manufacturer has built to perform in Russia’s most extreme environments.

While heavy machinery manufacturers look to Berco for tailor-made solutions, the company goes one step further by placing a large emphasis on R&D to anticipate solutions that are ever-more innovative, Grenzi says. An example of this is the use of ‘rotoforged’ steel in the production of rollers for very demanding mining applications.

This pioneering process will bring significant benefits to machines that have a huge load transfer in their working times, such as mining excavators that weigh above 200 t. For applications of this size and even heavier (350-400 t), the rollers are under pressure as they take all of the inertia of the vehicle. This means that the rollers need to be made of “perfect steel”, which is why the ‘rotoforging’ process is ideal, according to Grenzi.

Steel that has undergone this heat treatment process acquires a high microstructure and compactness, to such an extent it is able to achieve toughness values double those of conventional steel, he said. Continuous casting steel is usually rolled. Rolled steel that undergoes the new ‘rotoforging’ process has its microstructure transformed down to the core, resulting in a much stronger and tougher structure.

“For this reason, rollers made from ‘rotoforged’ steel are suitable for machines which must operate in the most demanding environments around the globe,” Grenzi said. “They offer a very high level of reliability of between 15,000-20,000 hours. This innovation is now ready to enter production.”