Thursday, January 17, 2013

#CoffeeChat: Stainless Steel Linear Slides with Brian Burke

SLIDING INTO PLACE The HepcoMotion® SL2 Stainless Steel Based Slide System is an adaptable addition to our range of linear rails, and offers the user with basic interchangeability with our line of GV3 linear guidance components such as stainless steel bearing assemblies, flat slides, spacer slides, etc. The SL2's complete corrosion resistance protects its linear motion bearings and ground stainless steel slides, which also comes with special surface treatment to beef up that corrosion resistance to meet U.S. Department of Agriculture standards for food processing applications.

We wanted to hear more about the SL2's capabilities, so we caught up with our [ Project Manager Brian Burke ] to pick his brain about this prominent part of our collection of guided motion technologies.

Q: How are SL2 rails similar or different from our GV3 product?
Brian Burke: The SL2 product line is a simplified subset offering of GV3 product made from stainless steel. The GV3 product line of linear guidance components is a diverse offering and includes a variety of linear guides with 70-degree vee edges, flat tracks, gear rack and pinions, carriage assemblies, guide wheels, cap wipers, accessories and components.

The GV3 linear guides are made of hardened 52100 carbon steel and are available in three grades of precision with bearings and track rollers also made from 52100 carbon steel. In the SL2 product line the most popular sizes and profiles from GV3 are available in 420C and 440C stainless steels and an additional offering is provided for assembled systems of carriage assemblies and tracks. At the core, SL2 is based upon flat tracks and double edge spacer slides made from 420C stainless steel with in the P1 precision grade with ground surfaces.

The SL2 product line does not include flat tracks or gear racks, but does offer carriage assemblies with stainless steel guide wheels and accessories such as aluminum flange clamps.

Question: How does the SL2 stand up in a wet, washdown environment? What about other types of harsh environments?
BB: SL2 can withstand moist environments much better than GV3 products because of the use of 420C and 440C stainless steel compared to the 52100 carbon steel. The 400 series of stainless steel is considered corrosion resistance steel, but can still oxidize and create rust. To improve corrosion resistance of 400 series steel, the spacer slides and flat tracks are fully ground to improve the surface finish. A ground surface has smaller bumps and cracks and much less surface area for the formation of oxidization. Therefore, the SL2 stainless steel tracks can withstand washdown environments better than GV3 products. Additionally, and screws, washers and fasteners are made from 300 series stainless steel.

Question: What materials are SL2 carriages comprised of? What's the benefit of each alloy?
BB: The carriage plates themselves are made from high strength aluminum and are surface treated for additional environmental compatibility. The guide wheels are made from 440C stainless steel with 300 series mounting studs and contain lithium based NLGI2 grease. These materials are more corrosion resistant that carbon steel alternatives found in GV3 products.

Question: Can SL2 rails be configured with any of our other product offerings? Which ones and in what scenario would you do that?
BB: SL2 is compatible with other GV3 products and can be combined or substituted if desired.  However, to maintain corrosion resistance of the entire assembly it would be best to stick to all SL2 products. Because the components are identical in form, and fit, alternates from GV3 can be utilized as is the case with cap wipers, track lubricators, and other accessories.

Question: What industries is the SL2 ideal for? What about food processing applications – what advantages does the rail bring to that industry specifically?
BB: SL2 can be utilized by any industry for applications where corrosion resistance is a concern. For the most part, SL2 is used in food production and packaging environments and clean room or low contamination environments. The corrosion resistance materials and surface preparations of SL2 make the product line well suited to applications in these industries.

Question: What's one of the most interesting SL2 application examples that comes to mind? Why did it work so well in that case?
BB: An interesting application for SL2 is pharmaceutical packaging operations where products are assembled into packaging and sealed for future use all inside a clean room environment.

[ To download a FREE catalog and CAD drawings, visit the SL2 product page ]

Monday, January 7, 2013

"Manufacturing Grows Our Economy" #MotionMonday

MANUFACTURING GROWTH — Since the early 2000s, California has seen a steady decline in manufacturing jobs — a loss of 79,000 between 2003 and 2007 alone, according to the California Manufacturing and Technology Association. Could heavy regulations be to blame? A report paid for by CMTA and released by the Milken Institute concludes exactly that, saying California's stringent rules force manufacturers to set up shop elsewhere.

Click here for the full image
During that same 2003-2007 time span when California shed massive amounts of manufacturing jobs, seven comparable states added some 62,000, the report continues. So how can California make itself more supportive of the industry that pays its workers an average annual salary of $66,000?

Part of what makes manufacturing in this state difficult is the quick changeover of labor laws, which makes it tough for companies to plan, the report says. Also, the fact that companies need approval from a complicated web of jurisdictions, which slows progress and could make a plan OK'd on the state level canceled by regional rules. Tax increases, investment losses and diminished credits and incentives add to the damage, the institute maintains.

If California had kept as many manufacturing jobs as it had in 2000, it would have seen 1.6 million more jobs and experienced $101 billion more in output by 2007, according to the report. That would translate into $75 billion more in wages than experienced in '07 and $5 billion more in income tax revenue. Obviously, the jobs exodus is nothing to sneeze at, and so the question remains: How to stop it?

STOPPING THE JOB DRAIN — Thankfully for the industry all about making things, some federal initiatives are in the works that aim to promote manufacturing across the nation. California manufacturing advocates are hoping it gives the Golden State an extra push to invest in its own companies.

President Obama unveiled a blueprint to promote domestic manufacturing and encourage companies to "insource" in lieu of "outsource".
  • First, the plan proposes removing tax deductions for outsourcing and add incentives to hire here at home. 
  • The incentive for insourcing would be targeted at companies that create jobs in the U.S. and the incentive would double for companies involved in advanced manufacturing.
  • Establish a tax credit for companies to invest in communities hit hard by the recession and job loss.
  • Provide temporary tax credits to green tech companies.
  • Reauthorize the right to expense any investment in plants and equipment.
  • Close loopholes that reward companies for investing abroad.
And there's more, but we'd like to turn the topic back to you. As a stakeholder in the manufacturing community, what's your assessment of the Milken report? What do you think of the presidential blueprint to support manufacturing as a nation? Do you think California can revive and sustain a thriving manufacturing sector by bringing jobs back home? Tell us in the comment box!