“No member of a crew is praised for the rugged individuality of his rowing.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
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For accurate forecasting and planning, it helps to understand
the movement of key industry indices. The graphs below were compiled by Air Products
economists to illustrate three-year trends for utility and metals pricing as well as industrial
production. We'll continue to keep you updated once a quarter.
Adapted from an article first published in the October 2002 issue of Industrial Heating magazine.
A new vacuum carburizing technology (U.S. patent #699,687) known commercially as
VringCARB® has been introduced by Surface Combustion, Inc. to yield repeatable,
high-quality results over a wide range of process variables. The process is performed at
low pressure in a vacuum furnace using high-purity cyclohexane as the carburizing compound.
For the high-pressure gas quench step of this process, Air Products and Surface Combustion
have developed storage and distribution systems for gases such as nitrogen, argon and helium,
as well as methods to help maximize product quality and safety.
Like many successful businesses, Hamilton Precision Metals had developed systems and
processes based on operating experiences and internal know-how. Their system worked;
the reroller of specialty metals recently celebrated its 25th year in business, boasting 85
employees and 90,000 square feet under one roof.
Last year, under the direction of company president Barry Brandt, Hamilton began a
continuous improvement program to address constraints in its annealing area. Management
determined that a more methodical approach was warranted to help identify and remedy
the plant's production issues. "We didn't know what we didn't know," says Jim Eichelberger,
Senior Project Manager at Hamilton.
Air Products has been a long-term industrial gas supplier for Hamilton and has always
provided technical support when appropriate. Don Bowe and Rob Edwards from
Air Products went to Hamilton where they discussed the process constraints and
offered to provide assistance. After some follow-up meetings, they recommended a
productivity assessment that has been recently implemented at numerous Air Products
operating facilities. This process has recently been approved as an official continuous
improvement tool at Air Products.
"The assessment identifies the things you're doing right, and it maps the manufacturing
processes to show where you can make improvements," says Edwards.
The comprehensive assessment looked at everything from purge times and process controls
to alternative cleaning operations. "We presented a number of options—high impact, low impact,
high resource, low resource—almost a shopping list, so Hamilton could decide what would be
most useful," Edwards says.
One recommendation related to determining optimal purge time is expected to save
50% in purge gas volumes for the hydrogen atmospheres alone. Other specific
recommendations geared to increasing capacity and reducing operating costs are in
the process of execution.
Open, honest communication was the key to the project's ultimate success, says
Eichelberger. "The whole assessment was handled with a professional approach from
Air Products," he says. "They added great value toward making our processes better."
For more information on how Air Products can help you improve your operation,
call 800-654-4567, code 422, to schedule your productivity assessment.
New Technology Agreement Improves Roll Properties
Air Products has signed a joint cooperation agreement with C.D. Wälzholz
and SMS Demag that enables us to share and develop our combined experience of
rolling gap technology using a combination of lubricants and Air Products' cool rolling
technology. This technology utilizes liquid nitrogen to cool and inert the sheet and rolls at the roll bite.
Now, our cool rolling technology can be retrofitted or used in conjunction with SMS Demag's
Least Quantity Lubrication system. Combining both technologies enables users to roll harder
materials as well as to produce a higher end reduction, while also substantially cutting
Call us at 800-654-4567, code 422, to learn more about replacing conventional
water-based cooling fluids in wet rolling.
What do crossword puzzles have in common with designing atmosphere
systems for metals processing operations?
For principal industry engineer John Dwyer, it's the fulfillment found when tapping your
cranial mass to overcome mental challenges.
"I usually visit customers if they have a problem with their metals processing applications,"
says Dwyer, an aficionado of everything from sudoku to the daily crossword. "There's a lot
of satisfaction when you leave the customer after having solved the problem for them."
In addition to troubleshooting, Dwyer uses his 25-plus years of metals industry experience to
help new and existing customers design atmosphere systems, optimize processes and
institute safety training programs. He has special empathy for his customers, as he worked
for six years in a steel company's heat treating and wire mill department before migrating to
the gas supply side of the business.
"I spent years doing heat treating and getting product out the door. There's great value to
that knowledge and understanding," he says. "Now as a consultant, I still do lots of hands-on
work and help customers improve their productivity."
So if you ever see "1-down. Five-letters. Clue: Problem solver," in a puzzle, chances are
that "DWYER" will fit quite nicely.