A carbon infra-red heating system from Heraeus Noblelight, of Neston, is helping to ensure that Leyland Trucks can feed sufficient volumes of polyamide (PA) pipe to its production line to meet the rising demand for trucks from its Leyland, Lancashire factory. The polypropylene pipes are essential components within the various pneumatic systems on modern-day trucks.
Leyland Trucks is a subsidiary of PACCAR, of the United States and manufactures a wide range of vehicles at Leyland. One of these, the DAF XF, received the international truck of the year award in 2007. Pneumatic operating systems are a feature of all trucks and consequently there is a great need for large volumes of air-handling pipework. This pipework is delivered to the plant in large coils and stored awaiting processing. However, when it is uncoiled, as with all plastics, it must be relaxed to allow it to straighten out. Conventionally, this is done by the application of heat, which slightly plasticizes the polyamide. Previously, this had been done using ceramic infra-red emitters but these were slow running, took a long time to heat up and were prone to break down.
Consequently, when it was decided to improve the speed and efficiency of the coil feed line to comply with faster production line speeds, the company contacted Gillard of Tewkesbury, the specialist plastic and rubber cutting and handling company, who designed and installed a complete uncoiling and cutting machine. After carrying out extensive tests, Gillard specified Heraeus carbon infra-red heaters in place of the old ceramic models and four 8kW carbon modules were arranged as two zones of two banks above and below the free running pipe on its way from the coils to a cutting table, where the pipe is cut to desired lengths. Control is effected through a touch screen which allows the operator to set the line speed, which is typically between 25 and 35 m/min, the cut length and the power to the emitters, which can be 40% to 70% of full load depending on line conditions. A significant benefit of the carbon emitters is that they can be switched off virtually instantaneously during unexpected line stoppages, ensuring there is no unwanted pipe damage, or when the modules need to be retracted to allow new pipe runs to be initiated.
As Marc Oakley, the Leyland engineer responsible for the project, explains, “The installation of the new pipe uncoiling and feeding system has allowed us to double our pipe cutting throughput and the efficiency, reliability and fast response of the infra-red system has played a large part in this.”
Heraeus Noblelight Ltd, part of the multi-national Heraeus Group, specialises in the production and application of high quality energy sources covering the entire electromagnetic spectrum, from ultra-violet to infra-red. It has over 35 years experience in infra-red technology and offers the expertise, products and systems to provide efficient and effective solutions to drying, heating and curing problems throughout industry.
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