"It happens every day. Companies come to us because they have a critical process and they need an oven developed to handle it," said Anthony Fabiano, president of Minneapolis-based Despatch Industries. "Manufacturers are always developing new ways to bring a product to market, which means they are always looking for new processes. If that process has tight tolerances, or requires temperature uniformity or a special environment, they come to us."
After 99 years of making industrial and clean-process ovens, furnaces and electric heating devices, Despatch has had plenty of experience with changing technologies.
"Often, a process is so new that no one ever, anywhere has done that type of heating," said Hans Melgaard, vice president of research and development, who heads the Innovation Center dedicated to thermal process research and development. The center provides customers with cost-effective solutions up front, before equipment design begins or purchase commitments are made, he said.
Because Despatch draws on a breadth of unique applications, "we bring a lot to bear on an application," Melgaard said. "For example, when we developed a way to cure the adhesive on a softball cover, we pulled techniques from other problems we've solved in the past. Even what may seem to be disparate concepts often can transfer from one application to another."
Two recent application problems the Innovation Center tackled relate to batch processing. The first was the need for shortened heating and cooling process times on existing equipment.
The Solution: Adding a forced-exhaust system and modulating fresh-air and exhaust dampers.
- The Result: Process time shortened by 15%.
With the second project, the customer wanted to improve process drying time.
The Solution: Developing an innovative airflow design, which improved the airflow rate impinging on the product.
- The Result: Total drying time reduced by 25%.
Despatch thrives on finding answers to difficult thermal processing questions and has built its technical reputation -- and its test center -- on this concept. The Innovation Center is in a separate area away from the manufacturing floor, and dedicates itself to fielding problems from most any application and industry.
After-Sale Backup By Phone or OnlineAfter-sale support keeps Despatch ovens operating long after many other industrial ovens would have given up the ghost. For every oven sold, the company provides technical support, service, parts, consumables and upgrades. In addition, Despatch maintains every oven serial number for the last 40 to 50 years, said Jim Fremont, director of marketing. That's just one of the advantages to buying from a company that's almost 100 years old.
Operators of new or used Despatch ovens can call the company with questions about their equipment via a toll-free number at (800) 473-7373. If a component, for example the controller, needs replacement, the serial number leads to the matching part. If the part no longer is available, an engineer can determine which alternative part will work, Fremont said.
Despatch oven users also can go to www.despatch.com to locate new and old owner's manuals when their originals have long since disappeared. Site visitors, without having to register, have access to the company's extensive collection of technical tips, technical notes and brochures. The site is searchable by product, market or application -- whichever is most important to the user, Fremont said.
Have a Problem? No Problem"Satisfied customers" is not just a well-worn phrase at Despatch Industries. The company's Corrective Action Program, instituted by president Anthony Fabiano two years ago, gets to the root of any product problems. Here's how it works.
If a customer should call to report, for example, that his oven's door handle is loose, there first is an immediate fix (installation of a new door handle, new bolts, etc.). Then, the problem shifts to an investigative team that must come up with a permanent fix. The investigation may show that the loose handle was the result of a single bad bolt from a vendor, or it may indicate the need for a design improvement so that in the future no fastener is needed to hold the handle to the oven door.
Whatever is required to resolve the problem for the long term is undertaken, Fabiano said. And once the permanent fix is completed, the customer is told how his initial complaint was resolved internally for subsequent oven-door handles.
For more information about 100-year-old Despatch Industries, call (952) 469-8230 or visit www.despatch.com.