Case Studies - From Stainless Steel Heat Exchangers to Primer Curing Ovens and Water Recirculation Systems
1. SCENARIO: Customer manufactures concrete reinforcing bars. Their Finishing Mill would break down causing six to eight red hot bars (approximately 60 feet long) from the Primary Mill to cool and become scrap while waiting for the Finishing Mill to be back in production. Customer needed a custom designed system to retrieve the hot bars, hold them at 1800oF and deliver the bars one at a time to the Finishing Mill once it became operational.
SOLUTION: WCE designed a mechanism to pick up the individual bars and deliver them to the inside of a walking beam furnace. This furnace was approx 3 feet high by 3 feet deep by 70 feet wide to accommodate the 60 foot length bars. The door of the furnace was 3 feet high by 70 feet wide and was opened by using pneumatic cylinders. When the Finishing Mill was placed back in operation, the furnace was designed to “walk” the individual bar onto a mechanism which set the bar on the Finishing Mill conveyor. The entire furnace operation was designed to use remote control (requiring no direct human touch) from the mill operating tower.
2. SCENARIO: Customer required an operating system for their hydroclave, which is used for curing carbon composites with water, and includes a controlled ramp heating system, a controlled ramp cooling system and a water pressurization system. The clave and system specifications were water at 350F and 1000 psi with +/- 5° temperature uniformity.
SOLUTION: WCE designed a water recirculation system rated at 500 gallons/minute under 1000 psi system pressure. An automatic water diverter system was designed to direct the water to the heater and cooling heat exchanger as required by the process. High-pressure, piston-style pumps were used to automatically control the pressure in the system. WCE also installed a vacuum system with feed-through on the hydroclave wall for evacuating the nozzle bagging system. A multi-thermocouple system to monitor and record part temperature was installed on the inside of the vessel with feed-through wiring to the recorder.
3. SCENARIO: Customer produces ramen noodles using an under the oil fryer pan firing method which caused inherent problems and slowed down daily production. They desired a system that would heat the oil more uniformly without over-heating or burning the oil (which caused bad flavor in product) and deterioration of the frying pan.
SOLUTION: WCE designed a direct fired heat exchanger and pumping system to deliver the oil at a controlled temperature and required BTU’s. The heat exchanger used recirculation hot air to heat the oil without burning. Similar systems were designed by WCE, manufactured and shipped to Mainland China and, after more than fifteen (15) years, are still in operation today.
4. SCENARIO: Customer was using hand torches to flow the solder in alternator diode assemblies. They wanted an oven to provide better controlled temperature and automated method of soldering the diodes.
SOLUTION: WCE designed and manufactured an oven that operates at 480°F and uses a turntable as a continuous method of soldering the diodes. The diode assembly is placed on the turntable, which rotates through the oven heating zone, and exits to a cooling zone to automatically and continuously solder the diode assemblies. The time in the oven is approximately 30 seconds and produces a diode assembly every five (5) seconds.
5. SCENARIO: Steel forging company desired to add aluminum forging to their capabilities. Asked us to design and manufacture a combination steel and aluminum forge furnace which could be used to forge steel or aluminum thereby increasing their steel forging volume as well as adding the function of aluminum forging by purchasing a single piece of equipment.
SOLUTION: WCE designed a dual chamber furnace to forge either aluminum at 850°F or steel at 2350°F. Each chamber had an independent combustion and control system and could be used for either low or high temperature heating. Customer was able to produce forgings at whatever temperature they needed based on production needs.
6. SCENARIO: Customer requested an oven which used indirect heated, gas-fired, and designed at 1100°F +/- 10° degrees.
SOLUTION: WCE designed a 321 stainless steel heat exchanger with a combustion system which conveyed hot gases through the inside of the heat exchanger. A fan was installed to remove the heat from the outside of the heat exchanger for heating the oven.
7. SCENARIO: Customer requested two continuous ovens for curing liquid paint on sheet steel coils moving at 180 feet/minute. One oven was to cure the primer coating and the second oven was used to cure the finish coating.
SOLUTION: WCE manufactured a primer curing oven 50 feet long to cure a 36 inch- wide sheet. We also produced a finish oven which was 80 feet long. The primer oven had two zones of temperature, and the finish oven was designed with three zones of temperature control. High volume exhaust fans were used to keep the solvent levels in the ovens below the LEL (Lower Explosion Limit).