AKO UK provide pinch valves from their VMC range to manufacturers of wheels ranging from 25″ to 33″. The company is a UK manufacturer that distributes 10-15% of their business within the UK, with the rest of the business spread out all over the world. The wheel manufacturing company have been in business well over 100 years, and have many bases in other countries including Germany, Italy and France.
The manufacturing process for making each wheel involves rolling, forming and welding the metal.
Each alloy wheel is placed on a machine to be welded. The welding process, which is undertaken approximately 3 times per hour per machine, is controlled by another machine – similar to a robot arm. The wheel rotates while the weld process is undertaken, using welding flux at ambient temperature, and gravity pressure.
Once this process is complete, excess welding flux passes through an open 32mm AKO Pinch Valve (VMC32-03X-50G-30LX) at gravity pressure. The valve for welding flux then closes using 30 PSI air pressure (just above 2 BAR).
The complete stainless steel pinch valve version is also used on this site, pictured below (product code VMC32-03X-50G-50).
The whole site is running for 15 hours which is made up of 2 shifts of 8 hours, minus breaks. The minimum amount of cycles the site carries out is 450 (sometimes up to 600), which equals to a minimum of 30 welds per hour.
The wheel manufacturing company were originally using an alternative type of aluminium valve for welding flux for this process. It had an extremely thin rubber sleeve inside which was not lasting very long at all, and was also very expensive. Matt Bingham, the Production Engineering Manager of the company had had enough of the short life time of the current valves and searched the internet for a better option.
The old Pinch Valve by an alternative manufacturer had an aluminium body, which was becoming increasingly damaged by fragments of the welding flux. Matt came across the VMC type Pinch Valve by AKO at https://www.pinch-valves.com and was impressed by the stainless steel construction and overall simple design.
So far, the AKO Pinch Valves have been installed on the welding machines for 18 months. Matt is very happy to have found a reliable alternative valve for welding flux that will last longer and in turn save the company money.
Now that they have trialed the AKO Pinch Valve and the product has proven to live up to its benefits which include fast and efficient opening/closing times, 100% tight shut off, and no clogging to name a few, the wheel manufacturing company will be replacing all current existing Pinch Valves on 18 other machines with the robust stainless steel VMC type Pinch Valve by AKO.
It is too early to tell at this stage, however AKO expect the lifetime of the natural rubber sleeves inside the Pinch Valves to last at least 2 years for this welding application, if not longer.