BLOG 2: Keeping it simple – foundry equipment that hides its complexity

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.

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Posted in Engineering, Equipment Installation, International, Service, Service Technician, Wheelabrator Plus | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Made in the USA – the rebirth of the North American foundry industry

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.
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Posted in Castings, Engineering, Forge & Foundry, Technology, Wheelblast | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Connecting Rods Machine - White BackgroundPut 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 , , , , , | 1 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 , , , | 1 Comment

Sieving, screening, separating – the high-tech way

Ulrich Goos
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.

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