In the industrial space, new products typically help users overcome a challenge in their operations.
That was the driving force behind the development of the Hydracision multi-point lubricator, explains Kurt Rommelfaenger, marketing and sales manager for Manitowoc, Wis.-based Oil-Rite Corp.
"We invented and manufactured the PurgeX pump to dispense small amounts
of fluid with absolute precision and reliability," Rommelfaenger tells New Equipment Digest in a exclusive interview. " ... The next challenge was to take precise dispensing to an even larger scale — hundreds of lube points."
According to Oil-Rite, the Hydracision multi-point lubricator "distributes lubricant to many separate points — as few as 12 and as many as hundreds." With that kind of capability, Rommelfaenger believes that the new lubricator will appeal to manufacturers in a number of different industries.
NED: Why did Oil-Rite decide to market this product?
: We have been in the business of designing and manufacturing lubrication equipment for 80 years. We began with gravity lubricators, which are still preferred in many industries due to their simplicity, cost effectiveness and longevity.
In the 1980s, we saw the need for a more precise method of lubrication. Synthetic and specialty oils were gaining a foothold in the market at a significantly higher price. There were increasing financial and environmental incentives to optimizing the amount of oil that was used in lubrication.
We invented and manufactured the PurgeX pump to dispense small amounts of fluid with absolute precision and reliability. It quickly became our premier line of lubrication equipment. PurgeX is powered by compressed air and can be used for a single lube point or dozens of points.
The next challenge was to take precise dispensing to an even larger scale — hundreds of lube points.
NED: How is this lubricator different from similar products?
: The injectors use positive displacement to achieve accurate dispensing.
Similar multi-point lubricators on the market today are identified as progressive, dual-line or restricted-orifice. Most of these systems require special configuration, complex installations and extensive operating manuals.
Hydracision is a packaged system that requires no special lubrication knowledge to install or operate, but is precise, reliable, well-priced and adaptable to a wide range of industrial applications.
In a word, "simplicity" distinguishes Hydracision from similar products.
NED: What problems did you encounter during the development process?
: The success of PurgeX convinced us that we needed to apply what we knew about positive displacement on a much larger scale.
Oil and compressed air each follow dedicated paths within the PurgeX pump. When moving fluid over large distances to hundreds of points, hydraulic power becomes a more efficient method.
To eliminate the need for a separate path for compressed air, the pressure of the fluid itself needed to operate the injector mechanism. We used two different types of check valves to "lock" the fluid in a measured chamber while using the fluid pressure to drive the piston through that chamber.
The piston "displacing" the fluid in the chamber achieves position displacement and leads to precise, predictable output.
NED: How long did it take from conception to final production?
: The initial design was conceived and a prototype was built within a two-year span.
We tested the product to more than 10 million cycles while we determined how to contain costs and streamline the appearance and operation.
It took a total of eight years before the final components were on our shelf. The development process resulted in two patents.
NED: Did cost factors play a role in changing the final design of the product? And, if so, in what way?
KR: Cost was a major consideration behind developing Hydracision, since we already had equipment that could accomplish the same thing, albeit on a smaller scale.
Our PurgeX pump requires minimal peripheral equipment to operate. This is what makes it so affordable at just a single lubrication point.
Hydracision requires a more substantial central control, but utilizes fewer components within the injector. The cost increase with each additional lube point is minimal.
Another important design consideration was a single-line output — all injectors are supplied oil by the same line. This not only simplifies operation and maintenance, but also controls installation costs associated with tubing, connections and labor.
NED: Who do you consider your target audience to be and what benefits will they realize from using this product?
: Our target market for Hydracision spans many industries.
Machinery with large numbers of gears, bearings or pivot points typically requires a constant source of lubrication. Examples are printing presses, injection molding, packaging machinery, punch presses, assembly systems, canning operations, conveyors, automated manufacturing and machine tools.
OEMs can incorporate Hydracision into the design of machinery. An end-user can configure Hydracision around custom equipment or upgrade from less-reliable methods of lubrication.