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Rebuilt Workholding Secures Cost-Effectiveness

High-quality workholding and specialized clamping solutions can both be difficult to repair and expensive to replace. However, preventive maintenance programs that include regular rebuilds give shops a viable alternative, one that saves both time and money in the long run.

"Most workholding OEMs now offer comprehensive turn-key maintenance and rebuild services, but for optimal cost-effectiveness, shops should select an OEM partner that can serve as a one-stop shop able to handle everything from standard-sized workholding to the massive chucks used in the aerospace and energy industries," said Adis Malkoc, Manager, RÖHM Products of America Service Center.

As workholding solutions grow increasingly sophisticated, a fully optimized process requires routine maintenance and periodic rebuilds. Many shops choose to replace gear chucks and other smaller pieces that fail, but for larger workholding and fixturing such as cylinders and power chucks, repairs tend to be more economical. Indeed, in industries ranging from medical to oil and gas, specialized workholding and fixturing may need to be rebuilt from scratch if components fail-an expensive and time-consuming task.

With an OEM partner capable of overseeing complete rebuilds and repairs, even shops without personnel able to perform these maintenance tasks can keep their workholding and fixtures performing far longer. A preventive maintenance program that includes periodic rebuilds by the OEM can identify worn parts long before they cause catastrophic failure-an effective and easy form of insurance that can keep machines running smoothly and downtimes to minimum. This kind of expertise is increasingly difficult for shops to maintain in-house, but workholding and fixturing OEMs naturally have the skills necessary to oversee precision rebuilding processes. This is especially critical when it comes to chucks.

The rebuilding process begins with an OEM's receipt of a chuck or other fixture. In some cases, cranes capable of handling chucks as large as 2 m in diameter may be necessary, but regardless of the chuck's size, a service technician will clean the unit and, using product specifications and parts lists, will formulate a rebuilding plan.

Shops that fail to keep up with preventive maintenance or push their chucks beyond factory-recommended parameters may receive a quote declaring the fixture beyond economical repair. This is often the case for chucks with such problems as a cracked main actuating unit or heavily worn pistons-issues that could have been prevented with timely maintenance.

If rebuilding and repairing the unit is less expensive than replacing it, however, the OEM can create a quote for the project that includes the labor and replacement parts costs, as well as an estimated procurement time. The turnaround time for the rebuilding process can be quick for standard parts, especially when working with OEMs that keep a large inventory of spare components. Obviously, custom parts or components that require off-site fabrication will add to the time required to complete a rebuild, though it will likely remain less time-consuming and expensive than building an entirely new fixture.

With a chuck completely disassembled, technicians clean, photograph and examine each individual component. Many parts of a chuck become worn over time, especially the clamping points and various internal moving parts, such as actuating pistons. Service centers will also take the opportunity to replace all seals and O-rings to maintain optimal performance, particularly for fixtures with features such as hydraulic components or air units. Before reconstructing the chuck, technicians will replace or repair all damaged or heavily worn parts.

Ideally, the technician can draw upon previous experience with a customer's chuck. At the RÖHM Service Center in Suwanee, GA, for example, the company optimized its rebuilding process by maintaining a database of customers' chucks. As the chuck OEM, RÖHM is able to track each chuck throughout its entire lifetime, including information about any previous rebuilds or repairs. Armed with this information, the company can easily anticipate problems and prepare solutions, especially when chucks come in for rebuilds as part of a routine maintenance schedule.

OEMs also have the ability to oversee chucks from the date of their fabrication and installation. They can be on site the first day to prove the process and runout while teaching operators about the use of a chuck or fixture. Many manufacturers will also choose to invite service technicians back for continuing education programs or to instruct new operators following a rehiring process. A skilled team of operators can keep chucks and other fixturing in working order between rebuilds, especially when equipped with OEM-recommended maintenance schedules.

With an OEM capable of providing comprehensive chuck repair and rebuild services, manufacturers can optimize uptime with preventative maintenance scheduling. A second chuck used in rotation with the first can also help eliminate any downtime that the rebuild requires. Many fixtures will perform non-stop machining for years without maintenance, but these units will eventually fail completely. Companies that stick to a maintenance schedule and send chucks in for periodic rebuilds will realize significant cost savings over the long term.

Authored by Adis Malkoc, Manager, RÖHM Products of America Service Center

For more information contact:

RÖHM Products of America

2500 Northlake Drive

Suwanee, GA 30024


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