Rebuilding heavy equipment makes good economic sense, particularly for the hydraulic components on construction and earthmoving machinery. In fact, the trend since 2008 has been strong enough to support the addition of a machine shop as part of the existing hydraulics shop at Caterpillar dealer Whayne Supply.
Key among the shop's equipment is a Sunnen HTA tube hone, which allows Whayne to resurface scratched and rusted cylinder barrels, saving customers 80 percent or more over the cost of a new barrel. Brought in as part of a beta test of Sunnen's new all-electric machine design in 2009, the hone has been used to process more than 1,000 barrels. Bringing this previously outsourced machining work in-house has helped the company add revenue and staff, while also improving control of delivery schedules and costs for customers.
Whayne is the worldwide leader in Cat-certified rebuilds of complete machines, having produced more than 400 on 33 different machine models since 1985. The company was honored for completing the five thousandth Cat-certified rebuild in 2011. Whayne has 14 locations and approximately 1,300 employees, with 200 located in Corbin.
"Simple economics dictate that customers are going to be rebuilding machines until the economy – and the coal industry in our region – both strengthen significantly," said Mike Harbin, manager of Whayne's Power Rebuild Center. "We have customers who are tearing down machines in the field and completely rebuilding them. The machine shop and the honing system have helped us stay on top of this trend. We have added five people in our shop alone to handle the increased volume."
Whayne has rebuild centers in Louisville and Corbin. All exchange/re-sell goods are processed in these shops. The hydraulics shop in Corbin has eight cylinder technicians, three full-time machinists, three pump experts, plus a foreman and service coordinator. The Corbin operation added a machine shop to its hydraulics shop in 2009 that included two vertical mills, two lathes, drill press, rotary surface grinder, welders and saws. The shop stocks various sizes of chrome-plated bar and DOM tubing, some of it pre-cut for standard Cat sizes. The shop has five cylinder service bays, one for suspension cylinders, one for lift cylinders on small loaders and three for high-force cylinders. "We can replace the barrel, rod, rod eyes, head/seal areas, hydraulic lines and connections, or custom fabricate new cylinders to spec," said Michael Carter, service coordinator. There are four hydraulic cylinders on the average Cat machine, so the shop stays busy, processing about 1,000 cylinders in 2011. "During the summer, we may have a hundred or more cylinders outside our shop waiting to be rebuilt, because our indoor storage is full," Carter added.
Honing cylinders for customer savings and shop profit
The shop's old hone consisted of a drill motor on a sliding carriage, and lacked the power, capacity and rigidity needed for doing serious work, according to Carter. "It could produce a surface finish, but not remove metal." Whayne agreed to beta test Sunnen's new all-electric HTA cylinder hone, and later purchased the machine with a 12-foot (4 m) part capacity.
The HTA tube honing system handles parts weighing up to 8,000 lbs. with ID ranges from 2.5 to 21 inches. It is designed for resurfacing and repair work where light-duty stock removal up to 0.030 inches is required. Standard models are sized for 6- and 12-foot part lengths, and custom lengths are available.
The HTA is equipped with a Siemens drive and PLC-control with touch-screen HMI for setting machine parameters such as stroke reversal point, spindle/stroking speed and crosshatch angle calculation. The control features a load meter to determine areas of bore tightness, and provides the ability to dwell the tool in multiple areas to correct part geometry. A touch screen-controlled hone provides a safer working environment and reduces operator fatigue. It also provides better quality parts by producing a controlled crosshatch pattern, which allows the honed surface to retain oil or grease, ensuring proper lubrication and ring seal of pistons in cylinders.