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Barron Industries Assures Quick, Accurate Response With Automation
In heavy industries such as electric power generation and paper processing, reliability when moving air or other gasses through a flue gas system can be absolutely essential for plant operation. This is why Barron Industries, specializing in repair, rebuild and manufacturing of fans and other flue gas handling equipment for almost 20 years, makes quick response time the key to their operation.
"Our company was built on quick response time," said Dean Warnock, chief draftsman, in charge of the SYNTHESIS aspect of the company's engineering automation project.
"We can get a call from a customer any hour of the day or night - he just wrecked and important piece of equipment and his operation is shut down. We're on site within hours to provide equipment and service to bring them back on line."
Long-term automation project.
The crucial nature of immediate response to customers made Barron a company that could benefit immensely from automation. Barron, an Alabama-based company with approximately 150 employees at 3 locations with corporate offices in Irondale, began developing a computerized fan design system in the late 70's.
The project began under the direction of M.H. "Johnny" Johnson (P.E.), chief engineer. The goal was to automate the design and detail of impeller products. Using FORTRAN programming, Barron personnel created the first computerized fan design program.
A few years ago, the company decided to move to a more flexible PC-based system, and in 1989 began integrating SYNTHESIS into the automation process. With the assistance of consulting engineer Dr. Daniel Duke (P.E.) and information systems specialist Scott W. Ferguson., Barron began the process of upgrading the original design software and replacing the original graphics system with a SYNTHESIS graphics system.
"When we first began writing design programs for our products, our chief goal was to define and automate the process of engineering, not the product itself," Mr. Warnock said. "This process-centered engineering allows us to respond quickly to design changes through process control.
"Through process control the product can be customized to fit virtually any application. Because of this there are very few standards or tables in our world. Variables are declared by formulas so as to be dynamic and customizable. This way, as our products change in the future, we have a very flexible platform by which to improve and expand these products. SYNTHESIS has been very effective in allowing us to do this type of programming."
Design flexibility a must.
Barron must have maximum flexibility when manufacturing and rebuilding air handling systems for a varied range of industrial applications, including combustion air systems for power boilers in paper mills and power plants, systems for processing toxic and caustic gasses in industrial environments, and industrial air handling equipment for textile, steel and coal and chemical industries.
Rebuild and repair jobs require possibly the greatest design flexibility, since Barron always tries to replicate the existing equipment as closely as possible, while at the same time making advantage of the latest engineering and manufacturing technologies.
"Our current practice in repair and rebuild requires extensive manual data processing after a group of measurements adding up to the 'air stream profile' are taken," Mr. Warnock said. "With the new automated processor, dimensions can be phoned in and processed automatically to produce not only design but also detail of the product for immediate manufacturing."
Automated processing offers "obviously a much quicker response time, and provides a much higher level of quality."
Phase I - impellers.
The first phase of the project, which has been in development intermittently for about two years, has been the design and detail of the impellers. About six months ago Mr. Warnock began devoting his time exclusively to the automation project, and the impeller phase is scheduled to be completed this spring.
"We are nearly complete with the first phase of this task, which is to generate fan impeller drawings," Mr. Warnock said. "We believe upon completion of this process for our new products we will have captured well over 90 percent of all the engineering processes required to design and detail this product.
By the end of this year the company hopes to be well on the way to completing automation of customer approval drawings for fan systems.
"When this phase is complete the time required to provide customer approval drawings will be very short. Our customers will be able to place an order today and receive drawings within a few days. This process normally takes from 2 to 6 weeks for most manufacturers who design and draw these fans manually," Mr. Warnock said.
The company is already using SYNTHESIS programs to provide details of multi-louvre, parallel blade and opposed blade dampers.
The SYNTHESIS program is used for producing customer approval and manufacturing drawings, and requires only a short question and answer session and less than three minutes processing time to produce the finished drawings.
When fully automated, the graphics processor (SYNTHESIS) will query design programs for technical information, process this information, and then create a customer approval drawing. It then automatically creates a manufacturing drawing for each customer approval drawing produced. The manufacturing drawing is then stored to be retrieved for use at a later date.
The generation of the drawings will be almost entirely automated, improving their accuracy and quality, and reducing the overall cost of engineering.
"Our ultimate goal is to automate all of the major engineering processes for each one of our product lines. This includes not only fan products, but all auxiliary components such as dust collectors, dampers, expansion joints, etc."
The company's future goals also include overnight batch processing of orders.
"Through SYNTHESIS automation we will be able to radically improve response times, from sales through engineering and to manufacturing. This will allow us to process more orders, with a higher level of profitability."
"We are very excited about what the future holds for our company."
Article Written by SYNTHESIS Consultant: