Clutch Brake Conversion Fountain of Youth for Industrial Machine Tools

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Yesterday’s metalforming equipment was built to last but when a clutch/brake goes bad on an older machine it can be tough to find a replacement.

When a clutch brake outlives its usefulness due to wear and tear, productivity suffers. Repair can be a problem because many presses in operation in job shops are decades old, and the components designed for them are often hard to find or unavailable.

JLO, a Chicago-based aluminum impact extruder for the automotive, electronic, lighting and ordinance industries, was doing a job for an automotive client when the clutch on its 40-year machine suddenly gave up the ghost. All work stopped, and the company was looking at an eight-week delivery window via OEM clutch replacement.

There are costs to downtime beyond dollars and cents. Reputation is at stake. Many industrials impose ironclad deadlines on their suppliers, which they miss at their own risk. Once negative scuttlebutt hits the street it is difficult, if not impossible, for a company to live it down.

“You have to deliver on time when working with an automotive customer,” explains Jay Oberrieder Operations Vice President of JLO Metal Products Inc. “Failure can get you blackballed. Best case, you get stuck with a bad reputation, which in that industry can sink you all by itself.”

“We were making air conditioning parts for General Motors, and were looking at tens of thousands of dollars in airfreight to meet our customer’s delivery deadlines. United Machine Corp.’s machine diagnostic and clutch brake conversion got us up and running in less than five weeks.”

United Machine Corporation of Valparaiso, IN, provides stamp press machinery fabricating as well as other complete metalmaking and metalforming equipment building, rebuilding and upgrading for the metalforming and metalmaking industries. Machine clutch/brake conversions coupled with general diagnosis are one of the company’s areas of specialty.

A machine diagnostic is not different from a very thorough medical examination in that it forecasts troubles likely to surface down the road based on the condition of the machine overall. Many issues remain invisible until they significantly impact the health of a machine. While a press operator may notice problems that typically arise in the course of operation, he or she probably won’t be in a position to ascribe them to underlying mechanical defects.

The various tests of which a diagnostic is made not only pinpoint such ailments they also proscribe the cure. Ram-to-bed parallelism and gib-clearance readings, for example, are used to access the accuracy of press components, and their findings can be instrumental in making adjustments necessary for insuring proper ram functioning.

Another test, “total lost motion analysis,” gauges surface damage throughout a machine by checking the clearances between moving parts. Such analyses provide a plan to bring a sick machine back to health, and promote maximum efficiency functioning.

“Our total penalty-cost exposure was in the neighborhood of $80,000 but with the diagnostic, and the clutch brake conversion we avoided that nightmare. The conversion also cost us 20% less than we would have spent on alternative clutch from an OEM,” says Oberrieder.

In such situations, a clutch brake conversion, the process by which a currently-installed clutch brake apparatus is swapped-out for a new one, from United Machine Corp. can save the day.

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Bob Kotynski
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