SYDNEY-based Bishop Manufacturing Technology (BMT) recently shipped a $500,000 air balance valve centring machine to an automotive component supplier in Argentina. This is the sixth such machine produced and orders have been shipped to Japan and Germany as well as South America.
Designed, engineered and manufactured by BMT, the new air balance technology quickly, cleanly and accurately locates the balance point of an automotive steering valve assembly and, in a single cold-forming process, joins the torsion bar to the input shaft.
All pneumatic solenoid valves, cylinders, manifolds, switches, gauges and silencers have been supplied by SMC Pneumatics.
The air balance technology uses compressed air, not hydraulic fluid, as the actuating medium. This prevents contamination of the parts and removes any necessity for subsequent cleaning.
Additionally, the cold-forming process eliminates the previous need for a drill and pin joint, making it much cleaner as no swarf is generated.
The machine, which has a footprint of only 2.5m2 and stands 2m high, is much smaller than hydraulically operated units.
Pinpoint accuracy is an essential feature of the machine's design. During the balancing process the input shaft is held stationary and the pinion/sleeve assembly is rotated. This ensures the centre of freeplay in the drive between sleeve and pinion is accurately located.
The process also measures the point of balance by angle rather than torque eliminating the effect of friction.
Productivity is also higher, as tool changes are quick and easy. Tooling for different valve designs comes in the form of quick-change collets for the pinion and input shaft and a pre-set sleeve seal assembly for the sleeve. The tool change operation takes approximately one minute.
BMT product engineer John Harris said that SMC Pneumatics engineers had been involved at all stages of machine manufacture.
"A major advantage of dealing with SMC," Mr Harris added, "is that components and service are readily available throughout Australia and internationally. Even though we have not experienced a single pneumatic failure, it is reassuring to know that SMC resources and components are on hand world-wide". SMC Pneumatics 02 9354 8222.