Tag Archives: maintenance tips

  • Air Chucks Need Proper Maintenance for Maximum Performance

    IMG_2491Air chucks are the preferred holding method for OCTG. Their compact size allows every inch of spindle space to be put to good use, which is essential when your workpiece is 40’ long. But, where you find oil, like the deep South, you usually find heat and humidity. The resulting condensation creates rust, which plays havoc with the workholding. Not every shop can afford driers or dehumidifiers to keep the moisture out of the air. That’s why regular maintenance is so important to keep air chucks running smoothly and safely.

    Down time is dollars down the drain in oil country. So, we thought it might be beneficial to give you a recap of the best practices for keeping your air chucks in tip-top condition.

    Oil O-Rings Often
    The average air chuck can have up to 20 O-rings or more. They help maintain the correct air pressure in the system to keep the jaws of the chuck engaged. Oil is the lifeblood of O-rings and checking the oil level in the lubricator daily goes a long way to extending their lifespan. We recommend 15-weight Parker 442 non-detergent oil. This combination has the right viscosity to run efficiently though the lubricator and won’t break down the poly bowls that hold the oil. Confirming that the oil lubricator is working properly is an inexpensive way to maximize productivity. Dry them out and you’re in for a service call and costly down time.

    Lubrication is another method of keeping your chuck running smoothly. Chucks that aren’t greased daily can suffer a 40% loss of grip force in just one week.

    Monthly Preventive Maintenance
    Human nature being what it is (or because they don’t understand the value), a lot of operators don’t check the oil level and grease their chucks on a daily basis. That’s why we highly recommend a preventive maintenance routine at least once a month. This includes oil and lubrication, an inspection for O-ring and seal wear by pressure testing, and a check for the proper grip force.

    IMG_2490Annual Checkup
    In a pipe yard, the jaws on an air chuck can open and close every 90 seconds. If you are running 24/7, that is a whole lot of clamping and unclamping. After a year of that, your chucks should have a complete tear down and thorough inspection for wear on all moving parts. Once open, all internal seals should be replaced. At the end of the process, your air chucks will be in excellent condition.

    Some operations have service engineers that are capable of performing the required air chuck maintenance properly. We carry the proper grip force meters and pressure gauges in stock so they can be assured of getting the proper readings.

    We also offer training for in-house professionals to bring them up to speed on best maintenance practices. And of course, our factory-trained technicians are available to provide a total preventive maintenance program for any shop.

    What happens if you don’t pay attention to the proper maintenance process for your air chucks? Let’s just say our repair team is always on call 24/7 in case you have an emergency.

    Contact us to learn more on the proper preventative maintenance for your specific SMW Autoblok workholding.

  • Top Five Maintenance Tips to Maximize Steady Rest Performance

    Screen Shot 2016-12-20 at 8.29.00 AMSteady rests manufactured by SMW Autoblok are among the best workholders you can buy. But even the finest piece of machinery will lose productivity if not maintained correctly. And while our service professionals would love to pay you a visit, here are some suggestions on how to avoid unnecessary service calls and bolster your bottom line by keeping unexpected downtime to a minimum.

    Tip # 1: Lubricate

    Lube! Lube! Lube! The most important thing you can do to keep your steady rest working smoothly is to keep it well lubricated. We can’t stress this enough. Proper lubrication protects the rollers – the heart and soul of the system – from wearing out prematurely or even burning out during a run. The definition of “proper” will vary depending on the environment you are working in. If you make short runs and keep your shop as clean as an operating room, you can probably get away with lubing once a day. But, if your steady rest is working continuously with exposure to coolant, chips or other contaminants, you might have to stop and apply the proper lubrication every 20 minutes. In more extreme environments, you might have to lube as often as every 5 minutes!

    Tip # 2: Automate the Lubrication Process

    Human nature being what it is, constantly stopping a run every five minutes or so to manually service each grease nipple with a standard grease gun rarely happens. Even if it does, the lost time adds up quickly and productivity drops. That’s why SMW Autoblok recommends that you include an automatic centralized lubrication system when you purchase a steady rest. The automatic system consists of an oiler with a timer that sends pressured lube through ports to rollers and the upper, middle and lower arms. The system is factory set to 60 lube cycles per hour. All the operator has to do is ensure that the oil reservoir is full. Adding air pressure to the system provides the added benefit of continuously purging contamination such as dirt and swarf from the vital areas.

    Tip # 3: Don’t Over Clamp

    Follow the guidelines in the manual for minimum and maximum pressure to apply when clamping a workpiece into the steady rest. Too much pressure will cause rollers to heat up, wear prematurely and lose center position. It can also damage piston seals, causing leaks inside the piston and a loss of pressure. Under-clamping can create slippage between the rollers and the workpiece, diminishing accuracy and productivity.

    Tip # 4: Don’t Skip Standard Annual Maintenance

    Every steady rest should be taken apart and inspected at least once a year to check the guideways, rollers and other internal parts for damage and wear. At that time, all seals should be replaced with seals from a SMW Autoblok Steady Rest Supply Kit. Make sure all the lubrication lines are clear and free of debris that could keep the lubrication from reaching the internal parts. Clean all components with SMW Autoblok Solvent or a comparable commercial product.

    Tip # 5: Look for Hidden Damage

    If the operating machine or the steady rest is subjected to any type of accidental impact, it should be broken down and inspected immediately for any hidden damage to internal parts. Any arms or lines that have been cut or distorted should be replaced for safety and proper mechanical operation.

    Smooth Rolling

    By following these five tips, you can help your SMW Autoblok Steady Rest give you years of valuable service. They will also save you time and money by minimizing unscheduled service calls and maximize profit by allowing the workholder to operate at peak efficiency on a daily basis.

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