Machine Overhaul Eliminates Manual Blasting

Machine Overhaul Eliminates Manual Blasting

Weldbend, Argo, IL, cleans precision plumbing fittings and flanges in a Wheelabrator Tumblast machine.


Argo, IL-based Weldbend Corp. manufactures thousands of steel-pipe fittings and flanges every year, from 2-in. elbow fittings to 48-in. flanges, to strict quality standards and industry guidelines supported by an ISO 9001:2000-certified Quality Management System. In the process, each piece is cleaned by Wheelabrator (www.wheelabratorgroup.com) blast equipment before it is sold to customers.

Previously, Weldbend was operating a 20-year-old, 22-ft3 Tumblast machine for its blasting needs, so to increase production volumes at Argo it acquired three 34-ft3 Tumblast machines dating from the 1970s. One machine was used for spare parts, while the other two were disassembled down to their machine shells, and completely rebuilt.

Weldbend's supervisory engineer Austin Lent led the overhaul effort, which helped to reduce maintenance costs, increase process quality, and improve safety in its high-production facility. "Taking advantage of the Wheelabrator Group Equipment Modernization Program, we upgraded the two Tumblasts with two dual EzeFit wheels and new barrel heads, replaced the rotary screen, and upgraded the roof," Lent states.

The Wheelabrator Plus parts, equipment modernization, and service division offers a range of equipment modernization programs (EMPs) and support services, including: on-site training, maintenance, repair, and service programs.

Wheelabrator's EzeFit wheels offer advanced wheel design, reducing maintenance cost and improving productivity. One advantage of using bi-directional (clockwise or counter-clockwise) wheels is that they lower parts inventory costs. Wheelabrator capitalizes on this advantage with a direct-drive design that offers standard or custom base mounting for increased versatility. EzeFit wheels are available in 3.5- or 2.5-in. blade widths. In order to meet any application, a variety of wheel diameters from 13 to 27 in. are offered, with RPM versions ranging from 3,600 to 1,800.

At Weldbend, additional upgrades were made to the Tumblast machines, to aid the company's maintenance staff. Now, the two "new" machines are housed in a new, separate extension to the Argo plant, and with the two new Wheelabrator machines in production since January the older Tumblast machine is receiving a thorough mechanical and electrical upgrade.

"We used our own employees' maintenance expertise to totally overhaul these older Tumblast machines while consulting with Wheelabrator expert," explains Lent.

After a complete renovation of the two Tumblasts, and once the 22-ft3 Tumblast machine rebuild is completed, Weldbend will have a state-of-the-art facility with three Wheelabrator new machines side-by-side. "We have been thrilled with the outcome of all the hard work," says Lent. "We received superior service and product knowledge from Wheelabrator engineers and representatives throughout the entire process. This machine overhaul wouldn't have been possible without the expertise and help from Wheelabrator."

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