The Timken Co. is a steelmakerand produces engineered bearing systems and power-transmission products. It's also, as one metalcaster has discovered over the past year or so, a supplier of specialized devices and services to keep a range of other manufacturers performing profitably. Timken's StatusCheck wireless condition-monitoring system has made it possible for ACP Manufacturing Co. L.L.C. to realize a savings of more than $1 million by avoiding unscheduled downtime in the first 10 months of using the system.
ACP Manufacturing, Blossburg, PA, is a ductile-iron foundry producing steering knuckles, spindles, control arms, trailing arms, suspension parts, and engine-related bracketry. These are supplied to customers as-cast, or machined and assembled. ACP is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi Metals America Ltd., and it adopted Timken’s wireless monitoring system to avert unplanned shutdowns at the 10-year-old plant.
According to Timken, the StatusCheck system is designed to detect and monitor excessive levels of vibration and temperature in bearings, gearboxes, electric motors, and other industrial machines. It monitors equipment and transmits electronic warnings of maintenance issues that may cause machinery to malfunction.
"StatusCheck has helped us significantly improve our operating efficiency, and the impact on our profitability is clear," confirms Robert Harter, ACP's v.p. of manufacturing for ACP.
ACP installed StatusCheck in July 2006 to monitor pollution-control equipment in the plant's baghouse area, where furnace fumes and effluent dust are captured. The equipment is critical to maintaining compliance with environmental regulations.
Rodney Reed, ACP's plant maintenance manager, explained earlier this year: "We have been able to identify nine 'saves' of a plant shutdown and two of a manufacturing line in the first 10 months of our use of StatusCheck." ACP defines "saves" as incidents when a problem was averted before it could cause unscheduled downtime. The StatusCheck alerts made it possible for ACP to schedule maintenance at a time when it was not disruptive to the manufacturing cycle.
And, ACP has been using Timken's hand-held bearing testers to verify proper installation and lubrication of bearings on individual machines. That equipment has saved ACP approximately 700 hours and counting," Reed said. "We're letting the technology guide us to what we need to do to maintain our equipment and prevent downtime."
“For several years now, ACP has been working with Kaman Industrial Technologies to help identify ways to improve production and reduce costs,” explains Bob Tuton, Kaman professional account manager. Kaman works in the aerospace and industrial distribution markets, providing products and high value-added technical services from nearly 200 locations. It offers more than 1 million individual items in seven product categories: bearings, power transmission, electrical/electronic drive, fluid power, material handling, linear motion and accessory items.
“When they asked for Kaman's assistance, we helped Timken introduce them to StatusCheck as a resource that could aid them in reaching their goal. Today, ACP's success is a tremendous example of two companies working together for the benefit of the customer.”
Timken product manager Daniel Szoch says helping customers to maximize equipment uptime is the strategy behind its new-product development. "Wireless monitoring is relatively new and part of our growing product offering aimed at improving customer performance. Clearly, this investment paid off for ACP, and when our customers benefit, so do we," he says.
ACP's vice president Robert Harter confirms it: "We are so pleased with the results of using StatusCheck that our owner, Hitachi Metals America, is considering installing it in its other plants in the United States."
Hitachi Metals America produces castings, steel-related products, magnetic products, and electronic materials in the United States for the automotive, steel, telecommunications, computer, and consumer products industries.