Our distributor from South Africa contacted me recently with a problem that one of his customers were having with their roll forming process. Their business is making metal studs used for erecting walls and covering with drywall. The metal studs start out as a 200 mm wide x 0.5 mm thick roll of sheet metal. The customer feeds the sheet metal through a series of rolling dies that gradually impart the final shape of a metal stud to the material. During this process, a lubricant is applied through a couple of metal pipes with drilled holes in them to disperse the lubricant onto the metal sheet.
The problem with the application is that it makes a total mess because there aren’t any controls on the fluid flow to keep the application rate where it needs to be. All they need is a light coating of the lubricant. What they’re getting now is a constant drizzle from multiple holes. Not only is this wasteful for the use of the lubricant, it causes a huge mess in the form of puddled lubricant on the floor. This problem also presents a slip and fall hazard to the operators as well. See the photo below.
In an effort to help them, my friend Wayne contacted me about the situation and presented a couple of scenarios he had in mind. One was to keep the existing system in place and use a couple of Super Air Knives to blow off the excess lubricant into a catch basin. The other was to apply a couple of our Internal Mix, Wide, Flat Atomizing nozzles into the application to provide a fine spray of the lubricant on both sides of the sheet metal.
After asking a few questions about whether the liquid was under any sort of pressure, its viscosity and the desired application rate I suggested to Wayne that the customer go with (2) pieces of model AF1010SS Internal Mix, Flat Fan Atomizing Nozzle. This Atomizing nozzle is more than adequate to provide the customer with the precise amount of the lubricant onto the sheet metal just prior to forming. The point in recommending the atomizing nozzles is to conserve the customer’s lubricant when it is applied in the first place so that they don’t have the huge mess that ends up developing during continuous operation. In this way, they are not treating a symptom of the problem by blowing the excess lubricant with a Super Air Knife, but rather tackling the problem right at its source by choking back on the application of the fluid in the first place.
After the customer installed their nozzles and made a production run, they were able to dial the application rate in to exactly what they needed. The mess and safety hazard went away and the customer was able to cut their lubricant use by half so far. They say they will continue to try and optimize its use as saving the lubricant used represented a nice cost savings to the customer that they had not thought about prior to engaging our distributor to help them take away this headache. They were simply concerned about the mess in the beginning.
It’s always nice to have such positive knock-on effect when you make process improvements like this.