Industrial supplies are the backbone of the manufacturing and engineering industries. Any efficient production operation utilizes the latest technology and industrial products in order to maximize the manufacture of its finished goods. The use of industrial products is ubiquitous during operation with manual controls on machinery, motors and drive systems powering production. Additionally, material handling for raw materials and finished goods are all accomplished with industrial supplies.
Power Generation Systems
Powered operations are at the core of production. Power is supplied by motors and transferred through a drive system to perform useful work. Every assembly line sits on a chain drive system connected to electrical motors that drive the conveyor belts forward. Belt and pulley systems can connect motors to many pieces of machinery and run a process in synchronous. Direct coupling systems transfer power directly to an attached machine, such as a centrifugal pump’s impeller being directly coupled with the shaft of a motor, as seen in chemical and liquid processes.
An important class of industrial products is tooling components. These industrial supplies are vital for machining operations such as drilling, milling, lathing, boring and breaching, grinding, and pressing. These machines are run automatically in a continuous fashion and they have to meet strict tolerances while producing consistent products at volume.
In order to accomplish this, a system of jigs and fixtures is used to guide the machine. Jigs, also known as locators, set a point of reference for machine operation, such as the starting point to make a cut in a sheet of metal, or the total depth in a metal that needs to be grinded off to form a smooth edge. A typical jig is a tooling ball that can be placed into a liner to set a machine’s position. Fixtures are the female equivalent to jigs and act as the end point for a guide. They can be as simple as a plate with holes drilled in them or bushings for jigs to slide into. Together, they act as a machine’s blueprint for proper operation.
Workholding and Vibration Control
The workholding line of industrial products is designed to secure materials in place for the manufacturing process. Common examples include vise grips and clamps since a strong, stable hold is necessary to keep materials from moving out of place during operation. Consistent production results demand that materials have no freedom to move during operation. More advanced workholding equipment would include spring plungers and spring loaded devices, hydraulic and pneumatic clamps, and vise handles.
While workholding steadies materials, vibration control is used to keep machines in place as they run. Excessive vibration causes wear on machine parts, errors in the manufacturing process, and creates noise levels that can be harmful to operators. Common examples include leveling and vibration pads that can be placed underneath a piece of equipment. Machine stands can be loaded with springs, compressed air, or hydraulics to resist unwanted motion during operation.
Knobs, handles, buttons, hand wheels, and all other types of manual controls are so ubiquitous in industry that few people pay attention to them. However, the proper use of manual controls in industry is about selecting the right type of control and placing it properly in order to increase production efficiency, reduce worker wear and injury, and prevent operator error.
The controls that are to be used most often should be in the most accessible location on a machine, no control should be placed where a worker has to stain to reach, and reaching above one’s head or below one’s waist should be avoided at all costs. Intuitive layout design will also make operations easier with fewer errors; for example, emergency controls should be painted bright red and not be too close to other controls where they may be accidently pushed.
Of paramount importance, the manufacturing industry utilizes safety equipment for all of its workers. These industrial supplies help prevent injuries, reduce the severity of those that occur, and promote better occupational health. Hardhats and safety shoes are used in even light industry while the chemical manufacturing industry uses splash protection in the form of safety glasses, smocks, and gloves. Hearing protection is required for significant noise levels, lanyards and harnesses are used for elevated work, respirators are used in high dust environments, and first aid kits are generously placed around the work area. Every danger has corresponding industrial products that keep workers safe.
The manufacturing industry utilizes the entire range of industrial supplies and industrial products. From protecting workers, to running machines and ensuring quality, every task is enhanced by the proper use of industrial products.
Greg Palmer is an author for Reid Supply Company, an industrial supplies distribution company with a 60 year history of supplying customers with industrial products such as vibration control, leveling devices, and a free CAD library.