Wedding Bells July 15, 2017

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Last week I was watching a news show that said that pictures of people looking at each other were better than looking at the camera. I have to agree because two days earlier, this picture of my daughter and me was taken minutes after she accepted a marriage proposal. It was prearranged to happen on Bayshore Boulevard with the sunset and Tampa skyline in the background. We were all hiding behind bushes across the street. They were on a bike ride when Mike feigned mechanical problems, stopped, got down on one knee and proposed. After a few minutes, we came out of hiding and almost got killed crossing Bayshore. Lots of pictures were taken. This is my favorite and is now hanging on my wall.

 

Screwed July 8, 2017

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If you have been reading my blog, you know that I am updating the shop. Most of this is reorganizing the assembly area but we have also added LED lighting to the welding area. This week I spent reorganizing our fasteners. When we moved into our new building, we bought metal bins for the fasteners. We thought they would be rugged and would last. However, when ever we changed a design or added a product, we could not easily rearrange the bins to keep the fasteners in some kind of order. About five years ago, we added a detailed bin location system to our data base so it was less important to try to keep them in order. We also had to keep the same hardware in two places, one for the reel grinder area and another for the bed knife area. You still had to go to a computer to get the location for a specific part number. After ten years it has become unwieldy. I also figured out that the steel bins we bought had a corner at the bottom of the front lip which made it difficult to remove small parts. Plastic bins and well designed steel bins have a radius on the inside of the front lip which makes it much easier to remove small parts. I had to use a magnetic dial indicator base to remove most of the hardware from the old bins.

 

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The new fastener rack uses plastic bins which hang on a rack and can easily be moved. I started with steel wire shelving with casters that I purchased at Northern Tool for about $120. I bought 200 5x4x3 bins at Harbor Freight for about $110. We had the particle board but it would have cost about $20 and the hardware was about $25. A couple pieces of scrap angle were used to attach the particle boards to the top and bottom shelves. Total cost of less than $300. Similar mobile storage would have cost close to $1,000.

 

I decided to use plastic stick on labels because the ones that just slide into the bin did not stay in very well. Now that all of our hardware is in one place, it is much easier to see what we have and what we need, so I modified our database to use an iPhone to add parts to a shortage report. Most parts are tracked and automatically added to the shortage report when they get below a certain level. We do not track nuts and bolts this way because the actual quantities would never match the database. Once a month or so, we would go out with a piece of paper and write down what looked low then go to the computer to verify it and then create a purchase order. It could take over an hour. Now it should take only a few minutes. One more reason we can make the best grinders for the best price.

 

Let there be light July 1, 2017

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When fluorescent lights first became popular during World War II, people wanted to use them everywhere. They create UV light inside a tube which has a coating that fluoresces visible light when excited by the UV energy. When used on an alternating current like our 60 Hz, the early lights had a bad flicker that could act like a strobe light. You do not get this effect with a light bulb because the filament does not have time to cool between each cycle. When the early fluorescent lights were used on machine tools like a lathe or a mill, they could make the machine look like it was stopped when it was, in fact running. This resulted in several deaths and serious injuries. That is why, even today, most machine tools are equipped with an incandescent light.

Last week, I told you about the new assembly station where I used a four foot led light that I bought at Sam’s Club for about $40. It works really well so I bought a 10 pack of the lights for $250 or $25 each. Up to 10 lights can be daisy chained with either a small coupling or with a 5 foot cable. If you couple two together you get the equivalent of an 8 foot light which cost $50 and emits 9,000 lumens. The closest equivalent fluorescent at Lowes cost $65 and emits 8,600 lumens. The LED of course also eliminates the need to replace bulbs and ballasts as they are maintenance free. They are also more environmentally friendly for disposal. In the top photo you can see the difference between the old fluorescent light on the right and the LEDs on the left. Below it you can see the finished job. The only downside is because they come in four foot lengths, you have to hang an third chain in the middle. The next step is to install these lights over each new assembly station and a couple of key machines in the machine shop. Happy Independence Day and to my friends up north, Happy Canada Day.

 

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