By David Pless
Director, Supply Chain and Lean Champion for North America, Wheelabrator Group
The concepts of lean and continuous improvement are not new. Indeed, the implementation of efficient processes with minimal waste was a major driver in Japan’s rise to become a world force in manufacturing in the 1980s.
Today, manufacturing companies all over the world – including most of our customers – follow a lean methodology to optimize their processes and production capabilities. For many organizations, it’s become second nature to think lean.
We continue on our own lean journey, as it is becoming more and more engrained into the way we operate. We aim to provide our products at the best speed, quality and cost possible by constantly improving material handling, inventory, quality, scheduling, personnel – all of which contribute to a better value for our customers.
By Doug Kim
Aftermarket Engineering Mechanical Designer, Wheelabrator
Following Bernd’s excellent blog about the complexities of blasting 3D printed parts, I wanted to share a glimpse into how we use 3D printing here in LaGrange for our R&D.
For the past couple of years, we have used a MakerBot Replicator 2X Experimental 3D printer to help us design and develop prototype components. This helps to ensure we find a solution that is both fast and best for our customers’ manufacturing needs.
Testing complex designs
Wheelabrator is always looking at new ways to develop and test parts that we put into our machines. After all, there’s little point producing something that won’t deliver the optimum performance in real world conditions.
By Bernd Busskamp
Sales Director, OEM Air Germany, Wheelabrator
Surfaces are getting more complex. At least that’s what I’ve been seeing in recent years. We’ve adapted to that, developing blast and peening technology that can cope with internal surfaces and organic external topographies. But things are about to get more fiendish still.
At first, it was lightweight design that turned engine blocks into something akin to Swiss cheese – with bores, channels, nooks and crannies. Now it’s the rise of additive manufacturing (AM), the printing of (among other materials) metal parts, that is posing new challenges, adding new complexities and requiring new blast processes.
Why blast 3D-printed parts?
The additive manufacturing process itself creates its own new cleaning tasks and blast requirements. Powder residue, half sintered-on during the build process, may need removing. Additive manufacturing of metal parts can also result in a relatively rougher surface which then needs polishing.
By Peter Longstaff
Former National Sales Manager at Wheelabrator Plus UK
Selecting the correct abrasive medium for cleaning and peening surfaces is crucial to achieve the desired surface finish, but the process can, to the uninitiated, be both complex and confusing.
During my career I gained a wide knowledge of surface finishing and the use of wet and dry blast equipment, wheelblast and vibratory finishing, and, in particular, the selection and use of abrasives.
The list of blast media options can be quickly narrowed down by recognising the equipment available for the process. For example, glass beads would not work in a wheelblast machine as they would shatter immediately.
By Birgit Bernhard
Service Technician, Wheelabrator Plus
If I’ve learned one thing during my travels around the foundries of this world, it’s that in heavy-duty environments simplicity is king.
Simplicity means being able to exchange a part easily, it means a machine that is fit-for-purpose – without frills that can become sources of error.
Posted in Engineering, Equipment Installation, International, Service, Service Technician, Wheelabrator Plus
Tagged birgit bernhard, engineer, forge, foundry, industry, international, service technician, Wheelabrator Plus
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