By Mark Lambrix
Director of North American Foundry Technology for Wheelabrator OEM
Until recently, the foundry industry had been in decline in North America. Cheap labor costs in countries like China saw companies looking overseas for foundry requirements. Demand dropped and many foundries in the US closed.
The tide, however, is beginning to turn. Overseas labor costs have risen and this, combined with the high costs of shipping heavy castings over long distances, means it’s becoming more cost effective to bring foundry work back home.
The last year or so has seen demand for US-made foundry products soar, but there are now fewer foundries to do the work. The result: the remaining foundries are ramping up their production and running longer hours than ever before.
Posted in Castings, Engineering, Forge & Foundry, Technology, Wheelblast
Tagged barrel blast, blast machines, cast cleaning, Castings, COMET HD wheel, foundry, Mark Lambrix, technology, Wheelabrator
By Trevor Burns
Applications Technology Manager at Wheelabrator
We have a saying in the Applications team at Wheelabrator – the customer doesn’t want the machine, they want the end result. It sounds obvious, but it actually has profound implications not just for how we identify the right equipment for a customer, but for development and innovation in our field.
Put simply, rather than trying to fit an existing machine to a customer’s requirements, we look at how we develop our machines to give the customer exactly what they need.
Of course, Wheelabrator’s standard machines are suitable for a wide variety of requirements already – they’ve been designed with industry needs in mind and proven in the field. But if there’s one thing our design and development teams love it’s a new challenge from a customer. Sometimes that involves teaching a machine impressive new tricks.
Posted in Automotive, Innovation, Manufacturing, peening, Shot peening, Technology, Uncategorized
Tagged automotive, Shot peening, shot peening innovations, technology, Trevor Burns, Wheelabrator
By Bernd Busskamp
Sales Director, OEM Air Germany, Wheelabrator
The revolution currently underway in manufacturing has many names. Here in Germany it’s often referred to as “Industry 4.0”, and globally we’re hearing a lot about the “Industrial Internet of Things”.
But whatever name we pick, the change rung in by this technology-driven new approach to manufacturing is rapid –and it’s everywhere. Blast equipment is no exception.
Whole armies of sensors, cameras and other measuring devices are conquering blast machines from airblast to wheelblast, from high-volume foundry machines to super-high-spec peening applications. All this data capturing and monitoring then helps control and adjust processes and workflows across the whole production.
Here’s a quick snapshot of what’s already possible today in terms of connected blast technology, and how this benefits production.
By Lawson Pryke
European Equipment Modernisation Director and COMET Engineering Team Leader at Wheelabrator
Two years ago I was charged with developing the best blast wheel ever made – we like to set the bar high at Wheelabrator! Now, as we launch the result of that project – COMET HD – I wanted to tell you a bit about how it was developed and why it really does live up to the accolade of ‘best blast wheel’.
The first temptation when faced with a challenge like this is to go back to the drawing board and look purely at the theory of how to develop the best wheel. What do the maths and physics tell us about what would make the wheel perfect?
In his 2011 book, Adapt: Why Success Always Starts With Failure, Financial Times journalist Tim Harford called this temptation ‘the God complex’. In this scenario you find the most brilliant minds in engineering, maths and physics to calculate what the best blast wheel should look like.
Posted in Engineering, Equipment upgrade, Manufacturing, R&D, Technology, Uncategorized, Wheelblast
Tagged blog, engineer, lawson-pryke, technology, Wheelabrator, wheelblast
By Ron Wright
Automated Airblast & Peening Manager at Wheelabrator
There’s a clear reason why Aerospace engineering is driving innovation and development in shot peening – put simply, if something goes wrong in Aerospace, people’s lives are on the line. A broken down car is annoying, but a broken down plane could fall from the sky. This means that quality and precision for Aerospace shot peening is paramount.
Shot peening is used in Aerospace to strengthen parts against fatigue. As engineers are striving to make aircrafts lighter and faster, a reduction in the weight of parts is an obvious result. This means shot peening has become an ever more important process to strengthen and protect these lighter parts.
Over the last 10 years, more people have become involved in the shot peening process for Aerospace. The big OEMs don’t always carry out peening themselves, instead using contracted companies who supply these services.
EMP Manager at Wheelabrator Plus in Germany
Anyone at Wheelabrator who’s involved in automotive applications will have been talking or thinking a lot about complexity and control recently.
More complex internal geometries of parts, more tightly integrated processes, fiendish peening specs, exact repeatability of results – the sector is certainly keeping us on our toes.
An example of how these trends affect every aspect of the blast machine and beyond, is the impact they are having on the humble process of sieving.
Sieving, screening and separating of abrasive in automotive applications has evolved into – you guessed it – a pretty complex affair.
Posted in Automotive, Equipment upgrade, Manufacturing, peening, Service, Technology, Uncategorized, Wheelabrator Plus
Tagged abrasive, automotive, engine, gearboxes, Shot peening, technology, ulrich-goos
Customer Application Lab Manager at Wheelabrator in LaGrange, US
When you invest in a new machine, you want to know it’s going to work. You want to know it’s going to deliver the finish that you need at a reasonable cost and with the cycle time that suits your surrounding processes. And you’re not the only one – all those factors matter to us too, because we want to get it right first time.
I work in Wheelabrator’s Customer Application Lab. It’s our job to figure out which machine is right for each customer, and having run over 5,000 trials at our headquarters in LaGrange Georgia, we’ve got a wealth of experience and data to back up our solutions.