VOL. 8 November ISSUE YEAR 2007
in Vol. 8 - November Issue - Year 2007
Wheelabrator Group Celebrates 100 Years Of Innovation In 2008!
The online Payback Calculator makes the
New Innovations at Wheelabrator Group
The CFX600 gear peening machine offers production flexibility
The MPR1800 reactor disc peening machine improves fatigue life
In 2008 Wheelabrator Group will be celebrating one hundred years of innovation. Achieving this milestone is the result of the company providing a clear and sustainable value proposition for their customers over the past century. Wheelabrator’s value proposition is simple - focus on increasing customer profitability and they will continue to return with their surface preparation requirements.
The foundation of success has been a continual emphasis on innovation at Wheelabrator Group. As their customers explore new design requirements with respect to their products (stronger, faster, more efficient), they repeatedly turn to the company to increase their productivity while driving their total product costs lower. As the industry’s market leader, the Wheelabrator team excels at this type of collaborative effort.
To highlight this point, Wheelabrator Group has provided some examples of how their teams are using innovation to improve their customers’ profits.
New equipment or refurbishment? Every customer faces this decision over the life of their equipment. “Should I upgrade my existing machines or should I buy new machines to meet my production requirements?” Making the right decision requires a detailed understanding of total throughput and total operating costs (including energy and consumable media). Frequently situations are seen where customers do not have a comprehensive view of their total cost equation. This can be due to internal organizational boundaries, sub-optimal performance metrics or other structural impediments. Realizing that the buy versus upgrade question can only be answered by identifying the customers’ total cost per part produced, the Wheelabrator team has created an easy to use, comprehensive cost model in the Payback Calculator for use in identifying improvement areas. The tool was initially introduced to the North American customer base this year and it will be rolled out to the rest of the world in the coming months. Customers can access this tool through the website (www.wheelabratorgroup.com) and can create operating scenarios that are specific to their location or company. The model asks the customer to provide some basic operating information and a profit impact assessment on certain improvement areas (reduced downtime, improved product quality, faster production cycle time, etc.). The resulting model then calculates the customer’s total operating costs and potential profit increase for achieving the targeted operating improvements. This model, then, becomes the baseline for assessing whether new equipment or a refurbishment is the most appropriate solution.
Once a common operating baseline is established, the focus is then turned to bringing innovations to the customer, that specifically address their improvement priorities. For example, the most requested improvement opportunity is to reduce total operating costs for an existing product line. This is normally achieved by reducing abrasive and energy consumption while extending the life of traditional wear part technology.
Accordingly, the Wheelabrator Group Technology Centers have devoted significant research to meet this challenge. These efforts have led to the introduction of two new wheel designs - one developed in North America (EZEFIT®), and one developed in Europe (TITAN®). In both cases the technology was developed to improve customers’ throughput while reducing overall cost per part produced (through increased wheel productivity, decreased downtime and improved part quality). And in both cases the technology can be delivered through either a new machine purchase or through an Equipment Modernization Program (EMP) of the customer’s existing machine (regardless of manufacturer). The market has been extremely receptive to these innovations and Wheelabrator reports to have successfully installed close to one thousand new wheels in the market since the introduction of both technologies. The benefits to customers of these new designs have been quite significant. Customers have documented throughput improvements ranging from 15% to 40% and corresponding reductions in per part production costs. The TITAN wheel has been awarded the Eurofinish 2007 Innovation logo by a panel of professional judges.
The third example of innovation brought to the market is the incorporation of state-of-the-art communication technology within Wheelabrator machines. Other surface preparation equipment suppliers have largely ignored the tremendous advances in information flow and machine control made in the past twenty years. In the past year Wheelabrator Group was the first in the industry to incorporate Bluetooth® wireless technology at shop floor level to lower cost and improve throughput of a typical customer’s part. By establishing the total cycle time through the work area (pre- and post-blast operation) significant throughput enhancement opportunities were identified at customers’ sites. In certain industries, historical control of the local blast operation required the use of a main power bus-bar (typically 480 volt, 3 phase) and the use of a second bus-bar for input/output (i/o) control mounted on and around the material handling equipment through expensive wiring harness configurations. These control systems are expensive to install, difficult to maintain and create the potential for costly power and data synchronization issues. By looking beyond the industry’s usual blast-machine-only orientation, and incorporating commercially available Bluetooth® wireless technology, Wheelabrator Group has been able to reduce the cost of the traditional hard-wired networks and improve the flow of information to the local supervisory control systems.
Robert E. Joyce Jnr, the Chief Executive Officer of Wheelabrator Group states, “In summary, Wheelabrator Group’s approach to innovation is simple: define the size of our customers’ improvement potential and then bring to them both hard (blast technology) and soft (communication flows, material handling) innovations for increasing their throughput while reducing their cost per part produced. Throughout the world we have 1,250 employees in seventeen different countries who dedicate every workday to providing such innovations. Our continuing application of this cooperative model for innovation will help us deliver benefits to our customers into our second century. Our customers expect nothing less.”
Focus on Wheelabrator Group Innovations in the Automotive Industry
Wheelabrator Group worked closely with project teams from major automotive manufacturers in order to develop further innovations in its CFX gear peening machine range. The partnership with OEMs has enabled Wheelabrator Group to better understand the pressures and production challenges facing the industry, and together they have created solutions for the following needs:
Need for lower cost machinery: As production moves east, the OEM’s have identified a need for lower cost, simplified peening machinery for these regions. Wheelabrator Group has created a good quality, durable and reliable standard range of equipment to suit the requirements of automotive manufacturers and suppliers. Some machines, for instance, will incorporate manual handling systems, rather than automated materials handling solutions.
Need for customized masking systems: Attention to detail is key when designing a surface preparation solution. Every application must be treated on an individual basis so that the right type of machine and technology is used to ensure that the customer achieves the surface finish he requires, this includes creating customized masks for the components.
Need for materials handling solutions: The automotive production line is probably the smoothest running in any industry. A blast machine provider must ensure that the machines can integrate into the production process, and include the complete materials handling solution. With this in mind, Wheelabrator Group has developed options including automatic loading and unloading manipulators with the “universal” gripper system or robots.
Need for the flexibility to treat components of different sizes within the same machine: The CFX 200 gear and ring gear peening machine has been developed to process any type of gear components up to 250mm diameter, with a production rate ranging from 200 to 600 pieces per hour. Further development of the CFX 600 gear shaft peener means that it can now achieve a production rate up to 200 pieces per hour for gear shafts varying from 120 to 600mm in length, with a maximum diameter of 120mm.
Need for automatic component identification: This is necessary in order to continue the smooth production process. Wheelabrator Group peening equipment is able to automatically identify the component and its size, and will subsequently select the correct peening program. Peening is controlled and monitored by either a programmable PLC or CNC controller with instantly selectable processing parameters, according to component type. Numerically controlled axis systems ensure the right movement and distances of the throwing nozzles for peening the gear teeth at strategic angles. Peening consistency is further controlled by the in-cycle shot recovery, classification and recycling system, this ensures that shot size and shape is closely governed. Rejected shot is automatically replaced with virgin media.
Need to reach increased residual stress levels: Wheelabrator Group has introduced duplex peening solutions in order to stay one step ahead of industry requirements.
The new peening lines can be operational over 3 shifts, 7 days a week with an up-time rate greater than 97%, combined with extremely low maintenance requirements. The high performance record and application flexibility are the key factors why many automotive OEMs are selecting solutions from Wheelabrator Group. Amongst satisfied customers, they can count: GM Powertrain, Volkswagen, SEAT, FIAT – FPT Powertrain, Renault – Nissan, Dacia, Tata and their subcontractors.
Focus on Wheelabrator Group Innovations in the Aerospace Industry
Wheelabrator Group launches a new generation of shot peening machines for the treatment of reactor discs.
The Wheelabrator Group Technology Centre in Charleville, France, specializes in the development and manufacture of shot-peening machines and air blast precision equipment dedicated to the aerospace industry. The range, principally CNC machines and robotic systems, offers successful and innovative solutions for the different surface treatments required in the manufacture and maintenance of aerospace components (engine parts, landing gear, structural elements and wing panels).
The new Sisson Lehmann MP 1800 peening machine, developed in close cooperation with aerospace OEMs, is dedicated to the shot-peening of jet engine reactor discs. The operation, which crucially guarantees part reliability, consists of introducing high compressive stresses into the component surface layer, by high energy shot blasting, in order to improve fatigue life resistance.
The simultaneous treatment of external and internal surfaces of jet engine rotors is enabled by nine accurate synchronized axes. The installation features a six axis poly articulated robot which handles four projection nozzles, and a two axis manipulator equipped with a bore peening lance and an accurate numerical turn table.
The media, continually calibrated in dimension and shape, is thrown by two automatic pressure generators. To guarantee the process, each nozzle feeding arrangement includes a set of high precision devices for shot flow regulation, air pressure regulation and air flow measurement. Besides these systems, an integrated control unit allows automatic flow calibration of each nozzle with continual precision.
The programming of the robot trajectories is achieved off-line using 3D component & robot CAD drawings. This method allows the optimization of machine immobilization times and guarantees precision.
The machine programming has been developed especially for the application and offers greater operation flexibility through specialized robotics. The whole system is monitored by a user-friendly PC supervision station, which ensures the piloting functions and maintenance assistance. The station also permanently audits the process: registration of events, procedural follow up, stability statistics, quality report, production follow up.
After 12 months of production, this machine has successfully passed the most demanding qualification program, and has been entitled to join Wheelabrator Group’s prestigious Sisson Lehmann MP series (Machine de Précontrainte).