Engis Innovation Makes Cleaning Room Safer AND More Productive

Proving that increased safety and productivity really can go hand-in-hand, the change to Engis Corporation’s Dia-ForZ™ diamond abrasive grinding wheels in the Cleaning Room at Waupaca Foundry is providing real safety benefits to operators as well as boosting the plant’s competitiveness.

In these difficult economic days every company is searching for ways to improve productivity, but in a harsh manufacturing situation such as a large foundry Cleaning Room, maintaining operator safety is top priority. Everyone at Waupaca Foundry Marinette Plant is aware of the potential dangers of working in such a tough environment and daily meetings are held to ensure that safety issues are kept in the forefront of everyone’s mind.

One topic which had been raised was the potential for the bonded abrasive wheels used for 
hand-grinding parts in the Cleaning Room to break during operation, and the company was therefore actively looking for a way of removing this possible hazard.

Furthermore, with a team of 25 hand-grinding operators cleaning the huge volume of ductile iron castings produced by the plant every day, abrasive wheel performance has a major impact on productivity. So, when Engis’ Technical Representative, Joe Esch, proposed that a move to Engis diamond abrasive grinding wheels would not only remove the risk of grinding wheel breakage, but would also mean that each wheel lasted much longer than the standard bonded abrasive wheels, Waupaca Foundry staff were more than interested.

Marinette Cleaning Room Supervisor, Al Basak, takes up the story; “Naturally, before we made such a significant change to one of our key production operations, we needed to be convinced that the new wheels would live up to Engis’ predictions. 

“So, we started with a small-scale trial cleaning brake caliper castings. Right away we could see the benefits – the Engis diamond wheels ran much faster and did indeed last at least 15 times longer. That automatically saved us the two or three minutes of wheel-change time each hour, for each operator – when multiplied across the whole Cleaning Room that would provide us with an additional significant, productivity gain.

“Also, we received very positive operator feedback. Because the wheels run with less vibration, the work itself is resulting in greater operator comfort and reduced fatigue.” 

Having proved the benefits of the new wheels with the small scale test, the management and staff of the Marinette Plant Cleaning Room soon extended the use of the 3-4” diamond wheels to a six week trial on a wider range of production tasks, including removing burrs from both calipers and anchors for the automotive sector, including Class 8 trucks and farm implements. 

Operator buy-in was rapid, not only due to the wheels’ better ergonomic performance, but also because of the much reduced level of dust created during grinding, which, in a plant casting 1 million tons of metal components each day - each and every one of which needs to pass through the Cleaning Room - makes a substantial difference to working conditions, as well as the environmental impact of the process itself. 

Al Basak sums up; “The move to Engis Dia-ForZ™ wheels has been a win-win-win for us at the Marinette Plant, giving us increased safety, decreased environmental impact and higher productivity – and what’s more, we are saving money too.”