Superfast flipping of connecting rods and other new tricks

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.

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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.

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Posted in Automotive, Innovation, Manufacturing, peening, Shot peening, Technology, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fingers on the pulse: blast technology and the Internet of Things

By Bernd Busskamp
Sales Director, OEM Air Germany, Wheelabrator

Leithülse DetailThe 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.

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Evolution holds the key to reinventing the wheel

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’.

Impeller-test-blade-Jane's-editThe 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.

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Posted in Engineering, Equipment upgrade, Manufacturing, R&D, Technology, Uncategorized, Wheelblast | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Smart’ machines make Aerospace peening a precision art

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-Peened-Compressor-Blades-BlogShot 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.

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Posted in Aerospace, Airblast, Engineering, peening, Technology, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Sieving, screening, separating – the high-tech way

Ulrich Goos
EMP Manager at Wheelabrator Plus in Germany

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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.

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Posted in Automotive, Equipment upgrade, Manufacturing, peening, Service, Technology, Uncategorized, Wheelabrator Plus | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Investing wisely – how to choose the right machine every time

Jonathan Edwards 
Customer Application Lab Manager at Wheelabrator in LaGrange, US

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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.

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Posted in Engineering, Manufacturing, Technology, Uncategorized, Wheelblast | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Survivors: Spanish manufacturing emerges from long downturn – smarter and more strategic

Xavier Lecina
EMP Manager at Wheelabrator in Spain

It has been a long, long wait for the Spanish economy, in particular in manufacturing, but we’re finally emerging from more than seven lean years. My customers are looking ahead again: construction is picking up, car production is back, and those who survived the crisis have emerged stronger.

EMP_BlogYet, the recent past has left a legacy that is very much present in manufacturing today. People do things smarter, invest more strategically, plan well ahead. Service, maintenance and equipment modernisation play a key role in this.

The fighting spirit I’m sensing among manufacturers shows a willingness to make up for lost time – and work harder, better and more efficiently to make the most of improved operating conditions, while being cautious in terms of investment.

For us at Wheelabrator Plus here in Spain, this means we have to be even more conscious of the value we add and focus on making a genuine difference for customers’ operations. Here are my three rules for thriving in a survivor’s industry.

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Posted in Economics, Equipment upgrade, Manufacturing, Service | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment