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issue: September 2005 APPLIANCE Magazine

Waste Disposers - Production
Doubling Up Productivity


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Food waste disposer manufacturer In-Sink-Erator found itself in a tight position when increased demand required the company to double part productivity.

In-Sink-Erator disposed of old rotor-casting machinery and replaced it with new, custom-made die-casting equipment from EPCO Machinery LLC that doubled the amount of motor rotors the manufacturer could produce for its line of food waste disposers.

With a die-casting machine wearing out and few options to replace it, In-Sink-Erator (Racine, WI, U.S.) had a grinding problem. The company had to acquire a new piece of equipment and find a way to increase part productivity for their waste disposer product line. In fact, to keep up with demand, the manufacturer needed to double its part productivity. The challenge was finding a supplier that would build a custom piece of machinery that fit In-Sink-Erators needs.

Demanding Changes

Bill Infusino, engineering manager, says that because of the high demand for waste disposers, the company needs all the productivity it can get from its equipment. Specifically, the manufacturer was trying to find a way to keep up with part production for its aluminum rotors, an integral part of the induction motors that run the food chopper/grinder in waste disposers. In production, rotors are placed in a die-casting machine where aluminum is injected around them. Later, a shaft is added and is integrated with other parts to produce an induction motor that runs the disposer.

Recently, a rotor-casting machine that produced two rotors per shot was ready to be replaced. But instead of simply replacing the current machine, Mr. Infusino wanted to gain more productivity. Working with Joel Kubicek, In-Sink-Erators manufacturing engineer, Mr. Infusino began the process of looking for a new piece of equipment that could double In-Sink-Erators production by producing four shots instead of two.

What the engineers found was there werent any standard rotor casting machines that could offer them the productivity they needed. Therefore, they decided that a specialty rotor-casting machine was required, and they began looking for a company to build it.

“We investigated what it would take to make a custom machine, because we were trying to get a better design concept for it,Mr. Infusino explains. We talked with several companies, but after 2 years of quoting and investigating, we finally decided the concept we had in the current machine worked best for us. Two companies were willing to give us a quote, and EPCO won the bid

Mr. Infusino says he was comfortable with EPCO Machinerys capabilities for building new and remanufacturing older equipment because the company had rebuilt some of their other manufacturing machines. The Fremont, OH, U.S.-based supplier also offered to custom build the add-on part loading and unloading equipment, as opposed to subcontracting it out, which is what the other bidding company wanted to do.

The new die-casting equipment is such a specialty machine that very few companies were capable of building it because it has a lot of add-on automation such as automatic part loading and unloading, Mr. Kubicek explains. If a company is into automation heavily, theyre typically not into rotor machines or die-cast machines and vice versa, whereas EPCO could do both.

Perfecting the Process

The casting machine In-Sink-Erator was replacing was designed in 1982. Since the initial design, there were a lot of changes in technology to be integrated into the new casting machine. So both companies worked together to design a new machine with several improvements. The end result was a 400-T Toggle Clamp Rotor Cold Chamber Die Casting Machine from EPCO.

To produce the induction motor rotor, 32 or 34 individual stamped steel plates are stacked together and pinned by a separate machine so they are held in place. The pinner machine transfers the parts to a conveyor, which is attached to the loader. The loader then places the rotors in a shuttle, which moves them to the casting machine, where they are loaded into the casting die.

Its a complicated process, notes Mr. Infusino. Its not just one machine, theres a lot more equipment involved in producing these rotors. Theres an auto ladle for the molten metal, and there are conveyors on both sides of the casting machine. A robotic, pneumatic pick-and-place-style machine is used as the part loader. The original loader was developed for the old casting machine, and EPCO built a new one for us based on the old design.

Next, four of the rotors are automatically loaded into the machine at one time using a dial indexer that is part of the casting machine. The aluminum is cast around the rotor, which is then rotated to another position so that the pin is pressed out of the stack. The rotor then exits the machine into a gravity conveyor for the next operation. Stack thickness of the stampings is checked periodically.

Compared to In-Sink-Erators old machine, Mr. Infusino says the company gained two extra parts and decreased cycle time from 28 sec to 24 sec, doubling part production. He also says that with the new casting machine, scrap is so minimal that there is really no need to have that extra quality check.

For software, EPCO put in a Visitrac shot monitor with a closed- or optional open-looped system running through a Parker Servo Valve. We also added an Allen Bradley panel view screen for operator control, Mr. Kubicek notes. Its an interface with the PLC program that gives us a nice I/O status, which is very good for troubleshooting. We dont have to go into the PLC to see whats on and off in the switch situation.

With the new equipment in place, In-Sink-Erator now produces 24,000 rotors a day during three 8-hour shifts, totaling 5.5 million per year. But even at these numbers, the company says they are constantly challenged in keeping up with production. But, Mr. Kubicek notes, the new machine helps us in this concern.

 

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