Case 4: Automatic Dispense Saves Time, Reduces Maintenance & Production Costs
A Midwest equipment manufacturer needed to improve their engine fill process. They were using an off-the-shelf pre-set dispense valve which operators triggered and held until the dispense was complete. They needed a simpler, more accurate method to dispense oil and anti-freeze into engine cavities.
Because the hand held valves would wear (especially the anti-freeze dispenser), engine cavities were often under-filled or over-filled. Each engine was tested and the customer’s Quality Test Center frequently needed to either vacuum out excess oil or fill to proper capacity. In addition, valves typically needed service every two to four weeks, and repair costs were high. The customer needed to reduce repair bills and costs associated with overfills.
A Midway sales engineer brought Midway’s engineering group in for discussions with customer personnel, and a custom system was recommended, consisting of two automatic dispense stations, one for oil and one for anti-freeze. In Midway’s proposal, an operator would program an exact volume into each station for the respective fluid and engine model, insert a small valve into the engine cavity, press a button and perform other work while the exact amount of fluids was metered into the engine cavities. The recipe would be recorded for future repeatability.
The customer purchased the system and has been very satisfied with the results. Midway installed two programmable batch controllers, each having nine recipes for different specific volumes of fluid. The operator first attaches the oil non-drip valve to the engine by screwing into place a metal cap with the valve inserted through the cap. Since the oil is more viscous, it is dispensed first. He or she then pushes the oil dispense button and while the oil is dispensing, the same process is repeated with the anti-freeze dispenser. Each dispenser shuts off automatically once an exact volume is dispensed.
Because of the cap attachment the anti-freeze is now pressure fed as opposed to being gravity-fed. This has resulted in more accurate and thorough fills, eliminating trapped air that formerly contributed to inaccurate fluid volumes in the engine.
By all accounts, the system is a resounding success. It is easier and safer for operators, and has been consistently accurate. Maintenance and over/under fill costs have been significantly reduced.
“The new system is ergonomically more friendly,” states the Manufacturing Engineer who purchased the system. “The operators don’t have to hold the valve. Because the operator can be doing something else during the fill operation we are consistently saving two minutes per unit. Those minutes add up. We are very pleased with the system’s performance.”
The system has been presented to other engineers within the plant resulting in more ideas for similar process improvements. Midway’s engineering group welcomes any such metering and dispensing opportunities and challenges!