All over the world, a piece of history continues as it has for hundreds of years. Not long after man discovered iron, he created ways to work with it and make it useful. The metal casting industry began thousands of years ago and continues as a vital part of industry.
The missing piece before FlexArm entered the picture? Ergonomics.
The foundation of the metal working industry is the foundry. A foundry is a factory that produces metal castings. Casting is one of the oldest manufacturing methods. Metals are cast into shapes by melting them into a liquid, pouring the metal in a mold that matches the final dimensions of the finished product, and removing the mold material (casting) after the metal cools and becomes solid.
While all metals can be cast, iron, aluminum, steel and copper-base alloys are the most used. Castings can weigh less than an ounce up to several hundred tons for a single part.
Casting was among the earliest of American industries. It came to the New Land with settlers in the 1600s and grew with the industrial revolution. Foundries developed near growing settlements and became established in cities nationwide. As settlers cried headed westward to farm the American prairie, stronger metals were required to cut through the turf, shoe horses, build buggies and lay the rail tracks that led west.
The need continues today for cast iron in machinery, vehicles, and in almost all durable goods. Just like decades ago, we live and travel on cast iron.
Hand grinders and sanders are used in the final phase of the casting process. Completing the finished product with hand tools provides needed control in the finishing phase.
The Challenge: Grinding is a tough job.
Most grinding processes require the power and surface area of a large grinder. These grinders can weigh upwards of 15 pounds – and more with attachments. A worker can use a diamond wheel to grind on iron and get 25-30 times the life out of that wheel compared to a regular stone. However, the surface speed of the tool must be increased and, the more speed, the more weight.
No worker, no matter how big or strong, can support that much weight for very long without getting tired. Workers often need to take quick breaks just to get through their work shift. They sometimes rest their grinders on their hips or thighs, which can lead to back issues.
No surprise: Injury rates for grinding operations are extremely high. Needed breaks cut down on an operator’s productive time, slowing down operations. Turnover rates for grinding operators are quite high, and trained employees often leave their position due to injury, or because they simply burn out.
When a Midwest distributor of products to the metal casting industry came to FlexArm for help, FlexArm rallied their team to the cause.
The distributor works with a variety of customers who use hand grinders in the casting process. These grinders are heavy-duty, and so is their weight. Use of these hand grinders results in shoulder injuries, carpal tunnel issues, and other negative consequences for workers.
Ergonomics is a primary concern. It is a challenge to get quality people for job openings. The need was for an assembly arm to take the weight and torque of the tool, and they were looking for a rotational mount for their grinder to use in the finishing process.
The Solution: FlexArm takes ergonomics to the next level.
FlexArm modified its Gimbal attachment to work effectively with these hand grinders. When a grinding tool is mounted into a Gimbal on a FlexArm heavy duty assembly arm, the combination provides smooth and almost effortless grinding.
FlexArm’s assembly arms are manufactured to counterbalance torque and tool weight. That’s not all. We offer a variety of mounts and enjoy working with customers to provide the best arm and solution for each unique need and application.
The FlexArm Gimbal provides 4 additional rotation points to an existing assembly arm while counterbalancing tool weight. By using the Gimbal attachment, companies can improve ergonomics, increase productivity and maintain consistency and accuracy with operations. It provides counterbalance for large tools with unrestricted freedom of movement. Applications include nut running, screw driving and assembly.
Bottom line: Ergonomics matters. Your workforce is important. And the FlexArm team cares about your employees.
FlexArm is a family-owned business, manufacturing and selling FlexArm Tapping Machines and Assembly Arms since 1984. Since introducing their first Tapping Arm, they have added a number of ergonomically-friendly solutions to their product line including Assembly Arms, Drilling Arms, Grinding Arms and Part Manipulation Arms.