Westeria : Behind the scenes of innovation: Till Schwering in a interview at Westeria

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Westeria shaped the development of its ground-breaking AirStar Evolution. Till Schwering provides insights into the process, difficulties, features and improvements.

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You presented a brand new machine on 31 January. It has significant features that we will talk about later. But first: How did you organise the development process?

Our development team, composed of experts from various departments such as engineering, design, manufacturing, sales, and management, has been meeting regularly twice a week for a long time, significantly promoting the overall progress of new product development. Additionally, both internal and external specialists are invited to contribute additional expertise to our innovations. This holistic approach allows us to effectively consolidateknowledge and ideas, deploying them purposefully in the development process. The collaborative teamwork, combined with frequent meetings, results in a high development paceand substantial progress. This methodical approach has proven successful at Westeria foryears and was consistently applied in the development of our AirStar Evolution. As a result, we successfully achieved our technical goals and met the set deadline for the Innovation Days with our global dealer network at the end of January, from the initial idea to the final testingphase. The involvement of the mentioned departments and experts ensures that productdevelopment is considered from various perspectives, ultimately making it a versatile allrounder with high market acceptance.

Till Schwering, westeria
© Till Schwering

What difficulties did you encounter during development?

During the development phase of the new product, insights from decades of windshifterexperience were incorporated, but as the saying goes, the devil is in the details. Even thesmallest adjustments during this latest Westeria development occasionally led to unintendedside effects, necessitating a reevaluation of components and their functions. The challenge in these cases was to swiftly identify and effectively address the root causes.

AirStar Windsifter, Westeria.

- © Westeria

What are the significant features of the Notus Air?

The completely new Notus Air air management system from Westeria represents the continuation and advancement of the sophisticated Westeria wind sifter technology, efficiently separating light and heavy materials through airflow. Various machine settings can be adjusted to achieve optimal separation results based on the machine's individual customer application and the associated heterogeneous material properties.

To maximize the machine's performance in the separation process while exploiting its energy-saving potentials, the entirely new air management concept, Notus Air, was developed. The circulation principle in the use of process air significantly reduces the customer's effort regarding the installation of peripheral devices such as extraction and filtration technology. The aerodynamic pre-separation solution above the lightweight material chamber of the new AirStar makes additional powered pre-separators before the integrated compact dust filter unnecessary. Maintenance and cleaning efforts are thereby significantly reduced, disturbances minimized, and the machine's availability substantially increased.

Our customers have the opportunity to test their individual materials in our technical center and separate them with the same machine type they intend to purchase. A precise documentation of the trial results with a summary video is provided by us. A customized recipe is saved according to the material and task, allowing for globally consistent separation results with the same settings. All parameters of the AirStar Evolution are adjustable via the user interface display and are automatically retrieved. This plug-and-play machine with reproducible separation results enables users without in-depth technical knowledge to achieve optimal outcomes.

Another element of the Notus Air air management system is the air guidance directly at the separation point. A new nozzle geometry and the mobile arrangement of the material acceleration belt and classifier drum offer significantly improved possibilities to precisely configure the machine for each individual task. The AirStar Evolution sets new standards in this machine class.

What improvements have been made to the maintenance-friendly Airstar Evolution?

The design not only features optimal maintenance accessibility, minimal material contact areas, and an easy-to-clean layout, as described earlier, but also incorporates components enabling the machine's self-cleaning. Additionally, the proven automatic belt misalignment control has been elevated to a new level. This function detects conveyor belt misalignment and corrects it automatically and intelligently, eliminating lateral running and associated damage to the conveyor belt.

Accessibility, what changes have there been?

In the previous model, a closed box was designed to house the functional components, negatively impacting accessibility. In contrast, the AirStar Evolution was developed based on a skeletal structure, where all components were attached to the base construction. As a result, the accesses are dimensioned so generously that the machine is entirely walkable. Despite this, it has not sacrificed compactness. Additionally, crucial components such as engines have been relocated from the interior position behind the doors, allowing work "at the open heart" once the large maintenance doors are opened.

What has changed in terms of user-friendliness? Operation as intuitive as an iPhone?

The conventional controls of machines are often confusing, and even with the accompanying manual, they can be hard to comprehend. Hence, it was evident that improvements were necessary. Initial considerations regarding user requirements aimed to make the user interface as simple as possible for easy global operation. Complex processes and settings that run automatically in the background or are irrelevant to the operator were hidden. The interface was streamlined to the essentials, drawing inspiration from straightforward smartphone apps. The touch display was equipped with a few easily understandable symbols. The result is so simple and impressive that this concept was extended to other products of the Westeria company.