Getting a Good Hold on Aluminum

Getting a Good Hold on Aluminum
February 16, 2017 Air Piping Solutions
aluminum piping makes sense for compressed air

It’s easy to forget that aluminum, one of the most commonly used metals, is not magnetic and therefore, presents a handful of manufacturing challenges.

Aluminum is used in many consumer products, especially in the food and beverage category. When was the aluminum can introduced? 1957! So for many, the can has served as a constant throughout our lives. It’s light. It’s easily malleable. It’s cost effective. It’s easy to open. It doesn’t rust. And it has a clean, sheen aesthetically pleasing appearance.

During the canning process, aluminum needs to be picked up and held in place. However, due to its nonmagnetic nature, capturing delicate and sometimes unfilled cans can be tricky. That’s why vacuums are essential in many factories and manufacturing facilities with canning lines.

A vacuum is hard at work through the entire process – when the can is formed (stamped from a single piece of aluminum and then fitted with a top), moved, painted or printed. This means canning lines have high throughputs, so they require high-capacity vacuum pumps. Often, this demand is beyond the capacity range of rotary vane vacuum pumps, but oil-sealed screw pumps are up for the task, because they can handle large demands and be operated from a centralized system.

During the two-piece canning method, a vacuum is used to hold the raw material in place (again, not magnetic) during the labeling process. The canning company used a water ring pump for this process, which, while it does deliver the right level of vacuum, can also create a number of environmental issues. During the printing process, the water ring pump can often suck in residual ink, polluting the water inside the pump. This causes the pump’s performance to drop and slows production. The ink-infused water cannot be drained into the sewage system, so the company needs to store it in a large pool until an external company can collect it for treatment.

At a canning facility in China, management decided to replace their polluting water ring pump with a brand-new Atlas Copco oil-sealed rotary screw vacuum pump. Many of the company’s customers are local Chinese companies, but they also have a number of clients who were recognizable international soft drink companies, who demand the best quality for their products. The potential for pollution in the process was not the only reason the company bought a new machine. A water ring pump has a low efficiency and high-energy requirement; as the company was encouraged by the government to reduce energy costs, they decided to pursue the most energy-efficient solution they could find – the Atlas Copco GV oil-sealed rotary screw pump.

Atlas Copco offered the company a complete package with a GV 2500 oil-sealed screw pump and a filter package, and the company agreed that was the best solution, signing a contract for two systems. Their pumps were running trouble-free and the company is considering ordering more to replace the water ring pumps in all their production lines.

Getting a Good Hold on Aluminum