Basics of Successful Flame Hardening

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Our customers must be seeing a rebound in the heavy manufacturing sector in Q4, because our phone has been ringing off the hook. We love hearing from customers that are using our flame hardening machines and making money. That’s the kind of solution we’re in business to provide: a means to make our customers money either by increasing efficiencies or reducing costs.

Some customers buy our  flame hardening machines and use it very successfully to increase their profits and efficiencies. Other customers, for a variety of reasons, seem to struggle getting their machines to a place where they not only meet but exceed their ROI. Because we’ve heard from so many customers lately with so many different outcomes in their installations, we’ve been talking a lot about what makes a customer succeed at doing their own flame hardening and what gets in the way of achieving that success. Here’s my thoughts on that.

The customers who are maximizing their investment in flame hardening share some common characteristics. Here are some basic ones:

  • One or two people are committed to overseeing the machine and getting the most out of it.
  • Maintenance personnel have skills with mechanical and electronic systems. They can keep the machine running consistently within spec, spot possible problems early and provide solutions, and then even find new ways to extend the machine’s capabilities that increase revenue.
  • Management understands that industrial equipment requires an investment of time and money beyond the purchase. They factor in training and testing time, giving personnel space to get to know the machine, and they buy spare parts to keep on hand.
  • Management also understands that even a piece of heavy industrial equipment contains delicate electronic controls that do not respond well to negative environmental factors. They make sure the machine is installed in an area with enough ventilation, and even a hood, to pull heat away and prevent electronics from getting overheated. They keep the atmospheres relatively free of dust and dirt and moisture which can gum up or distort electronic readings.

Conversely, less successful customers seem to approach their  flame hardening machines the opposite way:

  • The person responsible for running and maintaining the machine has so many other responsibilities he/she doesn’t have time to understand the basic functions, much less how to extend capabilities.
  • Maintenance personnel lack a skill set that matches the more intricate components of the machine: understanding how to manage pressures and flows, getting optimum flame head performance, or knowing basic electronic controls and how to troubleshoot them.
  • No one is responsible for regular maintenance or for quality checking to ensure the settings are to the desired specifications.
  • Management seeks to reduce costs by limiting time on training and testing the machine, skimping on preparing an environment that delivers the required pressure levels and keeps the atmosphere clean and cool enough for optimum function, and in general assumes the machine can just be turned on and left alone for the day.

If a customer seems unable to invest in the support and maintenance of the flame hardening machine on their floor, I would recommend that they send their parts out to their nearest heat treating company. We love to sell our flame hardening machines – each one has a special place in our hearts – but we love our customers’ success even more than that. We want our customers to make money with our equipment, plain and simple. We can get you started, but it’s going to be up to you to take it as far as it can go.

We incorporate a lot of programmed function to make the flame hardening process as repeatable and consistent as we can for customers, but none of our machines is designed to just keep running like a sewing machine. They aren’t robots and we’re not even interested in pursuing totally automatic solutions. We believe that flame hardening is a powerful process that opens up new capabilities on any shop floor. Those capabilities are best developed and recognized by human beings invested in making stuff even better, more efficiently, and seeing those improvements show up in the bottom line. Not everyone can or should buy their own flame hardening machine to do this. That’s why we offer flame hardening services to meet those needs, and other heat treaters around the country do a fine job as well.

So, here’s to your success – it’s how we measure our success.

Don’t hesitate to email me at mark@flametreatingsystems.com for answers to any of your heat-treating questions. Or call me at 919-956-5208. It might take me some time but I will get back to you! Thanks for visiting our website.