Rising to the Challenge
An important component of the pulley mechanism that drives the inclinator is the Auxiliary Carriage Shaft. The shaft is welded to a frame and holds a pulley of approximately 400mm in position. The pulley is lubricated internally via a grease fitting that directs grease to the middle of the shaft.
A problem developed whereby the pulley would seize onto the Auxiliary Carriage Shaft. As a result the inclinators needed more than acceptable levels of ongoing maintenance. The diagnosis was inadequate lubrication between the shaft and pulley. To overcome the problem, maintenance personnel at our company cut grooves around the circumference of the shaft by hand.
While this was a time consuming solution, it did allow for the grease to travel the full length of the shaft. This provided adequate lubrication to the pulley in the short term, it was not a sustainable solution.
We approached Challenge Engineering to determine whether their interim, labour intensive solution could be incorporated into the manufacturing process.
Using smart thinking, Challenge Engineering proposed that narrow grooves be cut into the shaft during the CNC machining process. This procedure would take place in a controlled environment where each part can be produced within very tight tolerances & measured in micrometres.
The pre-cut grooves produced as part of the CNC machining process delivered the prefect result. Grease found its way along the length of the shaft resulting in fewer seizures and less downtime, which meant maintenance time was considerably reduced for the client.
WHAT OUR CUSTOMER HAD TO SAY
“What we like about Challenge Engineering’s approach, is that they are prepared to work with us to find solutions no matter how small. They look at the bigger picture – and work with us in the long term regardless of the size of the job – and that’s why we continue to work with them. Other CNC machining companies we approached couldn’t be bothered. You get a real sense that James is 100% solutions focussed and committed to customer service.”
The Inclinator carriage runs on a track, similar to a monorail. Underneath the platform (or carriage) is a roller assembly that runs on a monorail. Within the roller assembly is a 20mm shaft, which initially had a slot in the end to hold in position whilst tightening the nut to the specified torque setting.
During maintenance it was difficult to change the bearings or install a new wheel because of limited access underneath the carriage. The slot was always difficult to hold with a screw driver in the confined space underneath the carriage adding a degree of difficulty and frustration to the maintenance routine. This meant that servicing took longer than it should, which was becoming expensive.
We had persevered with this situation for many years, and over that time tried to find a workable solution. They initially changed the slot to a square (as pictured below), which delivered a time saving, however it was still difficult to hold, and install. Andrew B, Project Manager, approached Challenge Engineering to see if James could come up with a better solution.
Challenge Engineering suggested that a hexagon impression be broached into the shaft, instead of the raised square, which would allow the use an Allen key. Working with an Allen key would be easier than two spanners in such a confined space. In addition to this, the process of broaching on a 3 axis CNC lathe is more efficient than milling a square into the end of the shaft.
Using an Allen key turned out to be a much easier alternative than working with slots or spanners, which meant the units could be assembled and serviced more efficiently – smart thinking!
As a result of this solution, the product is easier to assemble and saves maintenance personnel time on site when servicing the Inclinator, delivering cost savings in servicing and overall improvements in customer satisfaction.
WHAT OUR CUSTOMER HAD TO SAY
“CNC machining is James’ area of expertise and I’ve found him to be very prompt with deliveries and far more professional than many other suppliers out there. In addition to this, Challenge Engineering is extremely innovative. On this occasion, Challenge helped us solve a problem we had been persisting with for some time. They helped us find the right solution. I highly recommend Challenge Engineering. They are always looking for ways to help us streamline production and improve maintenance procedures.”