Industrial Engineer Engineering and Management Solutions at Work

October 2014    |    Volume: 46    |    Number: 10

The member magazine of the Institute of Industrial Engineers

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Emerging Technologies

Innovative tools of the trade

Keep the lines moving

Industrial engineers’ continuous drive to keep manufacturing lines flowing smoothly has been helped immensely by modern technology.

Nowhere is this more evident than in metal processing. Large teams of workers no longer have to spend inordinate amounts of time splicing metals and alloys together to be further processed into manufactured goods. Strip processing lines use fewer workers and less time to galvanize, tin, pickle and shape steel and other materials.

The Infinite Web 355 is another advance in this process. The latest innovation by Joining Technologies Inc., which makes industrial laser applications, is a laser cutting and welding system for splicing iron and nickel-based strip alloys. The unique, all-in-one design incorporates laser welding and cutting with a single head.

“It’s a quantum leap from the splicing equipment currently seen in the metal converting plants,” said Dave Hudson, president of Joining Technologies.

The system offers a streamlined design with optimal safety features. As implied by its name, the Infinite Web joins leading and trailing edges of metal coils in strip processing lines to create a continuous feed with no downtime for rethreading and realignment.

With the ability to service multiple converting lines, the Infinite Web 355 is a mobile, standalone system requiring only one electrical input and minimal operator involvement. The industrial PC-based control system features a touch-screen interface, canned programs for selected alloys and proprietary selfdiagnostics to ensure optimal uptime.

The system can handle a large range of material thicknesses and widths. It uses coaxial optics to verify proper positioning and provide precise and accurate splices.

Slowing down the production line to inspect composite sheets and panels is another time-waster from previous years. Today’s vacuum lifters, including Anver Corp.’s Upender 180° Flipper, allow one worker to do tasks that used to occupy teams of employees.

This new, fully powered C-frame style vacuum flipper lets one person lift sheets and panels, invert them, inspect the other side, and then place them in jigs for assembly or secondary operations. The Upender 180° Flipper features eight double spring-loaded vacuum suction pads to assure even loading and stressfree handling, and it uses clean electric worm gear drive actuators.

The machine is capable of handling 4-by-8-foot, 5-by-10-foot and 6-by-12-foot plastic and composite sheets and panels. It is ideal for finishing operations because it is hydraulic-free. Suction pads made from various rubber elastomers are offered in many sizes. Standard features include a pendant control and a VLS-08 Vacuum Leakage Sensor to provide leak detection safety.

Michael Hughes is the managing editor of Industrial Engineer.