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Iron Castings - Jun 2, 2021

Waupaca Foundry Replaces Wheels on Stand Grinders

Hanna Henrich-Waller | Waupaca Foundry

Diamond Wheels Replace Bonded Abrasive Wheels in Risk Reduction Project

Improving Workers Safety in the Mill Room

Diamond Grinding Wheel
The health and safety management system at Waupaca Foundry relies in part on risk reduction featuring continual improvement initiatives designed to progress manufacturing processes and improve safety. In this same spirit, Waupaca Foundry’s Plant 6 ductile iron plant located in Etowah Tennessee, saw an opportunity to reduce risk in its mill room. Stand grinding equipment in the mill room is used to grind, clean, and finish ductile iron castings. The wheels on the stand grinding equipment posed risk, however. The plant aimed to replace the traditional bonded abrasive wheels with diamond-plated wheels on its large 20 HP stand grinders to improve operator safety, improve maintenance.

An abrasive bonded wheel is essentially small pieces of stone that are glued together by fiber glass. 
Bonded abrasive wheels have a high risk of failing because of the stones disintegrative nature. When the wheels disintegrate the debris that it ejects causes trauma. While an abrasive wheel has not failed at Waupaca Foundry, the process engineering team desired to be proactive and find a safer wheel solution for grinding ductile iron castings.

As opposed to the bonded wheel, a diamond wheel is constructed of a solid piece of stone.
Jon Loken, the Director of Health and Safety at Waupaca Foundry explained, “Although there are many controls in place at Waupaca to mitigate that risk, the risk is always there.” The diamond wheel completely eliminates any risk posed with an abrasive wheel. A diamond plated wheel will never fracture in the way an abrasive wheel would.
An Abrasive wheel also produces excess amounts of dust, requires multiple adjustments and periodic wheel dressings to maintain performance, making production less efficient. While the diamond wheel reduces the dust production, eliminates any adjustments, and requires no wheel dressings.
A maintenance benefit is apparent with the diamond wheel too. Its life span is 25 times of an abrasive wheel. With a ratio of 25 to one, this means that a traditional abrasive wheel would have been replaced 25 times in the time that one diamond wheel is fully worn.

Replacing the abrasive wheel requires a higher RPM to operate the stand grinders with the diamond wheel. It was necessary to refurbish the stand grinder machines to make the switch. The machines were fully refurbished and operational by early 2021, and are preforming exceptionally well. Moving forward, refurbishng is planned to be done on site while it is implemented throughout the rest of the company.

This project demonstrates the Waupaca Foundry’s commitment to safety. This and all risk reduction projects aim to prevent injuries and equipment failures—making better working conditions. Safety is at the forefront of all operations in the iron casting supplier’s foundries and machining plants.

 
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