When a U.S.-based molder of composite friction materials used in aircraft braking systems recently upgraded its factory capabilities, the need was great. The company’s processes require tight control of key parameters in a number of sequences to produce high-quality parts, but the customer’s process engineer recalls, “Our older presses were experiencing frequent downtime, and their inconsistent operation was resulting in variations in [the] final product.” Determining that the most cost-effective route was to rebuild rather than replace its presses, the molder turned to family-owned French Oil Mill Machinery Co. (Piqua, Ohio). French offers hydraulic-press rebuilding services and agreed to rebuild 10 of the molder’s 400-ton presses, which were built by a competitor. The presses ranged from 15 to 30 years of age and varied in operating condition.
Drawing on 100 years of machine-building experience, French rebuilt the hydraulic column presses with electrical and mechanical improvements to give the customer controlled heating and pressing in its molding process. Internal configurations were rebuilt, as were part-eject systems, to improve press reliability. A new hydraulic system was designed with energy-efficient sealing technology to improve system response yet use less energy. French also installed new gate systems to reduce operator hazards and made other ergonomic improvements to assist the operator’s productivity and reduce strain.
After six months of running the rebuilt presses, the molder reports a 20 percent energy savings in its process. In addition, production has increased, and the presses turn out parts of better quality with less scrap. “The design and engineering was excellent,” testifies the brake products process engineer, “and we are thankful for the consistent operation of the rebuilt presses and significant reduction in energy costs.”