You don’t throw your media out with the waste water, so why would you purchase new mass finishing equipment or muddle through with an inefficient process when optimization can extend the life and enhance the effectiveness of your processing equipment?
Whether a result of increased production needs or in response to poor performance, optimizing your mass finishing process is a great way to reduce operational costs and lower your equipment’s total cost of ownership.
A Proactive Approach
Revising a process to meet increased production demand is a cost-effective way to not only improve your processing times and results, but also increase and prolong your equipment’s usefulness.
Let’s say production has been steadily building over time. How do you know if it’s time to evaluate the process?
Mass finishing experts suggest examining the final finish accomplished by the process and its media and compound usage. Processes in need of optimization will not achieve the desired finish in an acceptable timeframe and will use more media and compounds than necessary.
Increasing production demands without reconsidering the process can trigger finishing issues and lead to extra processing time and expense as well as rejected components. As more parts are processed at one time, the media to component ratio will decrease resulting in part-on-part impingement and increased cycle times due to burrs not being removed effectively.
In these cases, a more aggressive media with a higher cutting ability may solve the problem by producing the desired finish in a shorter cycle time. By lowering cycle times, the required media to component ratio can be achieved eliminating part-on-part contact and ineffective deburring.
A process-oriented, experienced manufacturer can help you evaluate your current media type, workpiece properties, process time, and results to suggest an alternative media for optimized performance.
Reactive Problem Solving
Not all finishing problems are a result of increased production. An increase in processing time and scrap parts, poor finish, using too much water, and creating too much foam can also signal processing issues brought on by other known or unknown causes.
If you’re not getting the desired finish on your components, reviewing the mechanics of the machine should be your first step.
Mass finishing experts suggest reviewing the machine to answer the following questions:
- Are the drains clogged?
- Has the movement of mass in the machine changed?
- Is the water/compound mix flowing properly?
- Are there bad valves or plugged compound valves?
- Is the liner intact or is a tear creating a dead spot where media is trapped?
If the machine itself and its mechanics check out, the process should be examined carefully to identify an area in need of optimization.
Process-related concerns include media that has glazed over, excess foam in the machine, and too much water trapped by clogged drains.
Evaluating mechanical and process efficiencies will not only help identify process problems, but also reduce processing costs. For example, maintaining the correct compound usage will reduce unnecessary consumption and ensure that components are processed more efficiently and with fewer rejects.
A Learning Experience
Mass finishing is an art and a science. No one knows that better than Rosler. When you lose track of that balance, mistakes are bound to happen. Consider the experience of a Rosler customer who ignored process issues for too long.
The customer was using two, 40-cubic-foot bowls for mass finishing. Over time, production had increased resulting in the need to run more parts in the machine. As a result, media began to exit with the parts into their collection bins, which then had to be removed by hand.
Due to the escaping media, the operator resorted to only using half the media capacity. This led to impingement of parts – especially on corners and tabs – and an increase in scrap from damaged components.
After meeting with Rosler, they switched to an automatic part loading system that dumped parts into a vibratory buffer, which would feed into two 16 cubic ft vibratory bowls, and used magnetic separation rather than screening. Rosler was also able to utilize their existing washing machine in the process by integrating before the parts loader, eliminating the need of an operator to transfer parts.
By optimizing the process, media consumption and cycle times were each reduced up to 50 percent. The changes also eliminated the need to manually sort components and media upon unload.
Our customer is now able to process more parts per hour and has improved their component quality.
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Post written by
Rosler Metal Finishing, USA
Sales Manager – Mass Finishing
Email Brett or call him at 269-441-3623