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Changing Wheels = Cleaner, Safer Rooms

Dec. 10, 2009
TK-Waupaca adopts diamond abrasive grinding products, which are more rugged and longer-lasting for its hand-grinding processes.

Operators at ThyssenKrupp’s Waupaca Plant in Marinette, WI, found a way to boost plant productivity and provide a safer and cleaner atmosphere for workers by switching to a new abrasive wheel for hand grinding.

With a team of 25 hand-grinding operators to clean a huge volume of ductile iron castings daily, the wheels’ performance impacts productivity in significant way. In addition, the manufacturing conditions present potential dangers, including breaking wheels.

After a meeting with Engis Corp. technical representative Joe Esch, a small-scale trial was started. “Naturally before we make such a significant change to one of our key production operations, we needed to be convinced that the new wheels would live up to Engis’ predictions,” said cleaning room supervisor Al Basak.

Esch suggested that ThyssenKrupp Waupaca move to the Engis diamond abrasive grinding wheels, which he predicted would remove the risk of grinding wheel breakage and also last much longer than the standard bonded abrasive wheels.

“So we started with a small-scale trial cleaning brake-caliper castings,” said Basak. “Right away we could see the benefits: the Engis diamond wheels ran much faster and lasted at least 15 times longer. That automatically saved us two or three minutes of wheel-change time per hour, per operator.” He also added that the operator feedback was positive. “Because the wheels run with less vibration, the work itself is resulting in greater operator comfort and reduced fatigue.”

The initial trial was then expanded to a six-week trial on a wider range of production tasks, including burrs from both calipers and anchors for the automotive sector, such as Class 8 trucks and farm implements.

In addition to better operator comfort, the reduced levels of dust made a substantial difference in working conditions, as well as on the process’s overall environmental impact.