Designing an appropriate process heat system requires knowledge and experience. Unfortunately, this fact does not always receive the appreciation it deserves, which can lead to systems that are not well thought-out (often falling into one of the several most common pitfalls). At STANMECH, we’ve seen the consequences of poorly designed systems that have proceeded forward to implementation. The shortcomings of the system are not discovered until it has been built and is in the testing and validation phase. At this stage potential solutions are limited by both design and financial constraints, as the solution must fit into a box that has already been built and the budget has already been allotted and spent.
While STANMECH is happy to consult and recommend equipment to help solve these cases, we would much prefer to be involved in the project during the design phase to help avoid these headaches altogether!
Below you’ll find 3 examples of how easily problems could have been avoided by bringing in the right people at the right time. Cases have been generalized to protect the innocent.
Example 1 – A deflashing system built for a third party
Background: An automation group was contracted to build equipment for deflashing plastic automotive parts. The entire machine, including the process heat component, was designed in-house by the automation group. The equipment was assembled and during the testing/validation phase it was discovered that it wasn’t capable of deflashing the parts satisfactorily. In an attempt to improve performance more heating equipment was purchased installed, however the outcome was not improved.
At this point STANMECH was able to consult on the application. It did not take long to discover that there were multiple issues with the design of the equipment: the type of air heater being used was incorrect for deflashing, the system did not have the appropriate power or air velocity for deflashing, and the part was not positioned correctly relative to the air flow.
The root problem was a basic misunderstanding of the mechanics of deflashing and the fundamentals of heat and air flow. The design focus was on the air temperature alone and no consideration was given to the critical issues highlighted above. This resulted in not only the initial installation of the incorrect equipment for a deflashing application, but also the purchasing and installation of additional incorrect equipment in a misguided attempt to fix the problem.
Result: By the time STANMECH was brought in to help, the financial and engineering constraints were too extreme for a rework of the existing deflashing system – a new deflashing system had to be commissioned. Had STANMECH been consulted at the beginning of the project this scenario could have been avoided and an effective system would have been installed the first time.
Example 2 – A part drying system built for an automotive production line
Background: An automotive parts manufacturer required a part to be dried after quenching, before it could proceed to the next process stage. The company designed and built an entire drying system themselves, including the tooling, fixtures, and automation, before realizing that their design was unable to dry the parts to the required standard. The entire budget was already spent and the project was behind schedule before STANMECH was contacted.
Upon review, STANMECH found that the application of the air to the part was haphazard and inefficient. Instead of using the air strategically to sweep the fluid off the part, air was being applied from many different directions without a collective strategy. Additionally, large quantities of compressed air were consumed by the process which would lead to high long-term operating costs.
Result: The final system was less efficient and more expensive than it should have been. Due to time and the existing design constraints, the only available solution was to add more equipment until a satisfactory result was achieved. Had STANMECH been engaged at the beginning of the process the system would have been much more effective/efficient and both operating and installation costs would have been lower.
Example 3 – Bottle drying system built for beer bottling line
Background: A small bottler came to STANMECH looking for a bottle drying system. We recommended a standard, off-the-shelf air knife system, sized to their needs, that is typical for this type of application.
Against our advice, the bottler decided they could save money by designing and sourcing their own blow-off system. Their designer had no knowledge of the control and movement of air or the mechanics of stripping water from a surface. They made several fundamental mistakes including using compressed air components in a blower-based system and restricting the air flow too much by using small diameter pipes.
Result: The bottler wasted money and time trying to improve on the effective, industry standard solution without any expertise in the area. Their system was unable to dry the bottles on their line at any production speed.
These are only three of the many examples we’ve seen of wasted time and money, that could have been avoided by bringing in the right expertise at the start of the project.
At STANMECH we can help you by offering everything from a short technical consultation to get you on the right track to a complete system design and build. We’ve even written a whitepaper that discusses the design steps necessary to produce an effective hot air system, read Steps in Designing a Hot Air System.
Contact your Technical Sales Representative today to discuss your application problem.