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Tube Forgings of America Expands Blast Cleaning

June 17, 2009
A replacement system fills a need for availability, ease-of-maintenance, and rugged construction.

Tube Forgings of America Inc. (TFA) has been manufacturing forged butt-welded fittings since 1955 for customers in numerous industries, where a supplier’s success is determined by high product quality and reliability — petroleum, gas transmission, power generation, nuclear, construction, and shipbuilding, to be specific.

In early 2008, operators at TFA’s manufacturing plant in Portland, OR, decided they needed additional cleaning capacity. They contacted a local Wheelabrator distributor to evaluate the plant’s outdated, inneed- of-replacement tumble blast machine (a machine built by a manufacturer other than Wheelabrator.)

Following a review of the old machine’s status with TFA maintenance manager Kim Rowley, the company made the decision to order new blast-cleaning equipment. The distributor called in the regional Wheelabrator manager, Kevin Poling, who worked with Rowley and the TFA operators to discuss a replacement machine.

This new Wheelabrator Tumblast machine joins one already installed for TFA in Portland. Designed for forgers, foundries, and other plants that have heavy-duty requirements, the Wheelabrator system is equipped with two 26 in.-diameter. EzeFit blast wheels for faster cleaning cycles and increased durability. TFA purchased this system for removing scale and other contaminants from the whole range of their forged pipe fittings. With two EzeFit wheels, the average cleaning cycle for a batch of fittings has improved significantly, and abrasive consumption has been reduced.

“We are pleased with the performance of our new Wheelabrator 76 ft.3 Tumblast machine. The new installation has doubled our blasting capabilities and has reduced a bottleneck in our production flow,” Rowley now explans.

“It also provides us with a back-up machine in the event one is down. The ease of operation, and the machine being so maintenance-friendly is bonus for our operators and maintenance staff,” the maintenance manager added.

The ease of operation and maintenance were not the only factors guiding TFA’s choice of the new Wheelabrator system: quality craftsmanship and dependability of their existing machine were important, too.

TFA’s two-shift operation creates an increased demand for a system engineered to perform reliably under extreme conditions. This capability is evident in the 76 ft.3 Super III Tumblast, partly because the 1-in. thick manganese barrel head liners and 0.5-in. thick Long-Lyfe cast-alloy liners protecting the roof.

A heavy-duty manganese-lined work door is provided with a shaft-mounted brake motor chain, sprocket drive, and safety lock. The 96-in. wide mill conveyor uses manganese steel flights, heat-treated cast chain links, and hardened steel link pins for maximum wear and less maintenance. Cast manganese housings are provided with Long-Lyfe end liners to protect the in-line housing walls from wear. Start-up, training and warranty service were provided on-site by Wheelabrator’s authorized distributor.

Wheelabrator’s Tumblast systems are designed to service heavy manufacturing operations, like forgers. The rugged build is enhanced with two 26-inch diameter blast wheels for fast cleaning and durability.