Those charged with the responsibility of purchasing industrial ovens face many opportunities that can either make or break an installation — and the decisions made will determine the project outcome. A poorly executed installation can upset the schedules of your customers, add installation time and costs, negatively affect employee morale and possibly have you checking the help wanted pages.
Companies often battle with trying to balance the best results with the least costly equipment. There are times when you need to get a new process started but think a cheap oven is the only option due to budget constraints. Often, the only perceived choices available due to upfront costs are either used equipment or basic ovens. Yet keep in mind that these types of equipment may not be able to properly process your parts, and attempting to make them work can be expensive, time consuming and even impossible.
The following keys to selecting an oven manufacturer will give you a better chance of managing a successful installation.
Select a Manufacturer That Acts as a Consultant
A consultant will ask questions about your company, your process requirements, your likes and your dislikes before providing a solution. Their questions are not meant to annoy you but rather to deliver the best equipment for your needs — with your budget in mind. They understand that in order to keep a lifelong customer, they need to provide the best total experience.
A company that offers you a solution based on little information does not have your best interests in mind and may provide equipment that may not be able to properly perform your process. This will cost you in both unplanned expense and time lost.
Suppose you “just want” a batch oven with a chamber that is 6 feet wide by 8 feet long by 7 feet high and is rated for 500°F (260°C). A consultative manufacturer will ask for more details to find out what you are heating, how you plan to load it, and more. If the oven manufacturer does not ask more questions and simply provides you with a standard design that uses combination airflow, you could have trouble heating your load effectively. For instance, if you load the oven with a multi-tier cart, the heated air cannot pass up through the shelves. The parts may not heat up as desired. You might be able to use the oven by not fully loading the cart, or you could make extensive changes later at great costs of time, money and reputation. But in this situation, you likely needed horizontal airflow for better heating, and a consultative manufacturer would have worked with you to determine that. A more thorough discussion of your process and needs would have yielded an oven that was right for the application in the first place.
Select a Manufacturer that Fabricates and Tests Equipment
Choose a manufacturer that will fabricate the equipment and test it on his shop floor. The overall cost and impact on your daily operations during installation and commissioning should be considered. Finding unforeseen issues such as improper airflow distribution, poor temperature uniformity, warping and growth due to heating during installation on your floor can cause delays and disrupt your workforce.
The potential for problems increases as the equipment design becomes more custom or complex in nature. Delays can lower employee morale and affect productivity and quality of work because troubles can cause employees to question the abilities of the decision-makers within your company. In addition, if the delays impact your customers’ schedules, it could affect your future business with them.
Addressing unforeseen issues is more efficient on the oven manufacturer’s floor. Engineers and technicians are able to quickly resolve and correct the situation because the travel time is negligible and the proper equipment and personnel are readily available.It is not unusual for changes to be requested during the oven-building phase. However, changes made on your own shop floor accentuate delays and high costs. It is much more efficient to make changes at the manufacturer’s site than in the facility following installation.
Some companies consider purchasing a kit oven with plans to assemble it themselves on-site. While the initial upfront cost for this option can be hard to resist, keep in mind that the manufacturer for this type of equipment often focuses on the sticker price and how inexpensively it can be made. The installation risks increase with this equipment as well as the chance for maintenance headaches in the future.
Testing equipment prior to shipment increases the likelihood of a smoother installation and startup. Minor adjustments — gas supply pressure, supply power voltage and frequency, plant air pressure, connection of exhaust stacks, elevation above sea level — may be necessary during installation to compensate for variances between your facility and the manufacturer’s. However, the time is minimized. Also, if the manufacturer tests the equipment prior to shipping, you will know that the equipment works properly before it arrives on your floor.
Seek a Manufacturer with Service, Warranty Support
Even the best equipment can have complications during the initial startup. The amount of factory assistance required will depend upon the ability of those installing, starting up and debugging the equipment. A manufacturer with the ability to provide varying degrees of service such as turnkey installation, installation assistance, startup, operator and maintenance training, and troubleshooting phone support is critical to the successful startup.
Companies with well-built, factory-tested equipment tend to offer longer warranties than their counterparts. The longer warranties attest to the confidence in the engineering, manufacturing and quality of their equipment.
The success of your project and process hinges on selecting the right equipment manufacturer. If you follow these keys, your chances of having a smooth installation of heat processing equipment that will perform your process for years to come will be increased.