The Origin Of Hydraulic Cylinders

Hydraulic cylinders rely on pressurised fluids to produce extremely high forces.  We have been harnessing the power of water to run machinery for hundreds of years.  The earliest examples of this are waterwheels which provided power for mills. In the 17th century, Blaise Pascal discovered that pressurised water in confined spaces increases the initial force. It wasn’t until one hundred years later Daniel Bournelli actually put Pascal’s theory into practice.  This development resulted in the use of hydraulic cylinders in all areas of our lives.

In 1795 Joseph Braumah built the first hydraulic press using the principle designed by Bournelli. After many years of development and improvements, the water was deemed too corrosive and replaced by noncorrosive oil.  This had many benefits as the oil is much denser than water and able to manage heavy loads. Also, it does not overheat and evapourate ensuring the hydraulic system remains bubble-free.

As well as developing and refining the fluid in hydraulic systems hydraulic cylinders have also been greatly improved.  The last century hydraulic systems have been used in many applications such as; cranes, car braking systems, drilling, manufacturing and rescue tools.  Hydraulic systems increase the power of an electric motor tenfold making light work of heavy lifting and pulling.

Hydraulic Cylinders In The Future

Engineers are constantly devising ways to increase the amount of force hydraulic systems produce. This century has seen many developments in the use of hydraulic cylinders to power cranes, landing gear, moving heavy objects and in manufacturing.  Developments in hydraulic cylinders enable heavy tasks to be undertaken with precision and a high degree of accuracy.

Hydraulic systems are much more effective than mechanical systems due to their precision and controllability. The sheer power they produce makes any lifting work achievable in many industries.  It is incredible to think about all of the amazing possibilities hydraulic systems will enable us to achieve in the future.

Challenger Hydraulic Cylinders

Challenger Group manufactures highly effective hydraulic cylinders to suit the individual requirements of each customer. They range from a bore size of 20 mm to 350 mm with working pressure up to 450 Bar.  The cylinders can be double acting, single acting and through rod types and manufactured from mild stainless steel if required. We also incorporate Cartridge valves, limit switches or linear potentiometers into our hydraulic cylinders if applicable to particular applications.

We use computer-aided design (CAD) and modern CNC machine tools extensively in our design and build process.  This ensures the reliability and efficiency of our hydraulic cylinders and ultimately results in customer satisfaction.

Our hydraulic cylinders are used in a range of applications including; Machine Tools, Refuse handling, materials handling, offshore equipment, steel processing, water treatment, mining, construction, vehicle manufacturing, and within the chemical industry.  We also stock a range of hose and couplings. 

If you would like to see our manufacturing process or commission the manufacture of hydraulic cylinders contact us and we would be happy to help.

IBC’s Storage, Transporting and Reconditioning.

IBC’s or intermediate bulk containers are cube-shaped vessels used to transport and store food products and hazardous materials. They are made from industrial-grade plastic and hold up to 1000 litres of materials.  Intermediate bulk containers are recyclable and easier to store than traditional barrels and cans due to their regular shape.

Intermediate bulk containers are a fairly new innovation and were only patented in 1993 by Oliver J H Hollender, a Belgium inventor. IBC’s are airtight which makes transporting dangerous chemical safer and prevents food from becoming contaminated.  The many benefits of IBC’s results in them being used instead of barrels.

IBC’s are reusable and are effectively cleaned using IBC reconditioning systems which remove all residue left in the containers.  Plastic IBC’s are cheaper to purchase than metal barrels making them extremely cost-effective. Intermediate bulk containers Load easily on to trucks and can be transported around the warehouse on pallets. 

IBC’s And Transport Regulations

It is important to adhere to the strict regulations relating to IBC’s and the transportation of hazardous waste.  The Department of Transport has laid out very clear guidelines regarding using Intermediate bulk containers to transport chemicals and hazardous waste. Natural Resources Wales has also produced a very comprehensive set of guidelines to ensure IBC’s are stored and transported correctly.

Storing IBC’s And Hazardous Waste

Storing hazardous materials requires a great deal of planning and organisation to avoid spillage and leaks. The following guidelines from Natural Resources Wales ar not yet regulated but still provide sound advice for storing hazardous and chemical waste.  Here are some of their suggestions:-

  • Label materials clearly.
  • Keep an up to date inventory.
  • Make sure the IBC’s are fit to do their job.
  • Take precautions regarding the storage of hazardous substances.
  • Separate different substances to prevent them from mixing.
  • Store in neutral conditions avoiding extreme heat or cold.
  • Store away from drainage systems groundwater, surface water and vehicle routes.

An up to date inventory should include:-

  • Product types.
  • Trade names.
  • UN numbers.
  • COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Data).
  • Volumes.
  • Location on-site or within the store.

IBC’s Reconditioning Systems

IBC’s can be used a number of times as long as they have been thoroughly cleaned and dried.  This is achieved with the use of IBC’s reconditioning systems. These are systems that are specifically designed to clean IBC’s.  There are two parts to the IBC reconditioning system the first is an automatic drying system and the second an automatic washing system. 

Automatic Washing and Drying Systems

The automatic washing systems washes and drains the inside of IBC’s.  It is a modular system which involves the IBC’s being transported to each station using pneumatics. The clean IBC’s move on to the drying station where they are thoroughly dried and prepared for reuse. 

Companies who use a large number of IBC’s may invest in an IBC reconditing system to make recycling their containers more cost-effective.  They may also offer a reconditioning service for smaller companies which will bring in more revenue.

If you would like to find out more about our IBC’s reconditioning system contact us and we would be happy to discuss it with you.

Bespoke Machinery Versus Generic Machinery

Bespoke machinery is designed and built according to customers specific needs.  Most manufacturers purchase bespoke machinery once their production line is established and the generic machinery is no longer efficient.  Custom made machinery does cost more to buy due to its uniqueness but the increase in efficiency and reduced running costs make it more cost-effective in the long run.

Generic or secondhand machinery is cheaper to purchase because it is either mass-produced or has been built to someone else’s specifications.  This type of machinery is particularly good for business startups or companies wanting to expand without incurring too many costs. Generic machinery requires more staff to operate it because allowances need to be made for the shortfall between what the machine can do and what the manufacturer wants to achieve.

The decision as to whether you purchase generic or bespoke machinery is determined by financial restraints and whether your business is established or just starting out.  Manufacturers with established production lines will be looking to streamline their business. Startups, on the other hand, will just want to establish themselves.  

How Does Bespoke Machinery Increase Productivity?

Bespoke machinery increases productivity by making production more accurate which increases the rate at which products are manufactured or processed.

Custom made machinery also requires fewer people to operate it because it has been built to do a specific job.  Generic machinery tends to need more human intervention to cover the shortcomings of the system.

Bespoke machinery is not as expensive as we think it is because it is more economical in the long run.  This takes into account accuracy, efficiency, lower-wage builds and maintenance costs.

What Are The Negatives Of Custom Machinery?

Generally, there are very few negatives to choosing bespoke machinery over generic machinery.  However, it is important that you take into account changing production methods and diversity into account before making such a decision.

Reducing the workforce may have a negative effect on the company as staff can be trained to use the machinery and reduce the overall workload.  Maintaining staff morale and looking after their wellbeing has a very positive effect on production which converts into increased profits.

The high initial cost requires in-depth analysis to ensure the bespoke machinery will increase production and profit margins. Also, manufacturers must be certain about the purpose of the machinery otherwise they may end up with machinery that is not fit for purpose and financial liability.

Challenger has been designing and building a wide variety of bespoke machinery for over two decades and is very adept at ensuring the machinery is exactly what the customer requires.

If you would like to find out more about bespoke machinery contact us and we would be happy to arrange a consultation and advice.

Why ISO 9001 Is A Mark Of Quality

ISO 9001 status is a great achievement for any manufacturing company.  It is awarded to companies who provide an excellent service in relation to;  manufacturing, delivery, attitude, accuracy, customer satisfaction and a commitment to good quality.  The status is renewed annually by auditors who assess a company’s ability to reach the exacting standards of IS 9001.  

Achieving ISO 9001 status is beneficial to companies in two ways.  First of all, it provides a comprehensive framework which enables companies to work at optimum levels,  Secondly, customers are more likely to purchase equipment from a company with ISO 9001 status because it guarantees an excellent quality of service.

In order to achieve ISO 9001 status companies have to complete a five-step process. The steps include; preparation, documentation, implementation, Internal audit and certification.  Achieving ISO 9001 status is a continual process as companies have to be audited once or twice a year in order to keep their certification current. 

What Does ISO 9001 Status Involve?

There are many benefits to having ISO 9001 status including; independent proof that your company provides good quality products, high efficiency, staff engagement, clear goals, good staff morale, efficient problem solving, good company image and customer satisfaction.  ISO 9001 status is a globally recognised certification making it possible for companies to compete in a worldwide market.

A lot of hard work and dedication goes into achieving ISO 9001 status.  Systems and processes are at the core of the award and relate to both manufacturing and administrative tasks.  Every single member of the team is involved in implementing and carrying out the necessary tasks in order to become certified.  Companies follow a five-step process which is repeated annually or biannually. This means that a company’s ISO 9001 status is current and up to date.

Achieving ISO 9001 staus is a five-step process resulting in a globally recognised accreditation.  The first step involves preparing how your company is going to approach the qualification. This stage requires you to outline your objectives and how you propose to achieve them. There are many documents and tools available to help companies to identify and set the right objectives.

The second step requires companies to write the quality policy, procedures and other relevant documents.  This stage is considered to be the most complex and time-consuming because it involves understanding, interpreting and applying the technical requirements to individual companies.  Enlisting the help of an ISO 9001 consultant ensures that this part of the process is completed correctly and accurately.

The third step involves the implementation of the documentation.  It is important to do this carefully as it involves informing staff how the new systems work.  This is most likely to be successful if your processes are easy to follow and don’t involve unnecessary paperwork. Experts advise starting with document control because its benefits are quick to see.  Staff are most likely to learn quickly and follow procedures if they are actually fit for purpose.

Step four involves an internal audit which can be carried by a trained member of the company or a subcontractor.  Some companies have a number of staff members who are ISO 9001 trained. This is beneficial for the company as it allows staff to share good practice and troubleshoot any issues. Audits take place until there are a minute number of changes that need to be made.  

Once this has been achieved it is time to apply for your certification.  In order to do this, you need to collect two months worth of ISO 9001 documentation and have completed your internal audit. An ISO 9001 registrar needs to be appointed by your company and they will select an external auditor to assess your company. It is vital to research your ISO 9001 consultancy company well in order to find one that fits in with the aims of your company.

If you would like to find out more about our ISO 9001 status contact us and we would be happy to discuss it with you. 

The Financial Benefits Of Non-Ferrous Balers

Non-ferrous balers are used to process aluminium alloys, aluminium, lead, brass, zinc and copper in recycling plants.  These metals are particularly valuable as they are used to make gutters, roofing pipes and electrical cables.  The main properties of these metals are that they are not magnetic don’t contain and are more resistant to corrosion. Recycling such metals is much cheaper than extracting and processing raw materials.  

All metals can be recycled many times without diminishing any of their properties.  Recycling metal is economically and environmentally sound. Approximately 24 million tonnes of aluminium is produced every year. The main producer of aluminium is Australia where resources are getting low which is why it is extremely important that we recycle it.  It is much easier to recycle metal than any other material because it is easy to sort and process.

Scrap metal yards are able to make good profits reselling used non-ferrous metals due to its scrap value.  Non-ferrous metal is sold by the tonne which gives an indication of its value. Heavy copper and bright white wire are the highest value metals costing £3,900 and £4,500 respectively in 2018. 

What Are The Two Types Of Metal?

There are two types of metals ferrous and non-ferrous both can be recycled indefinitely without their properties changing or degrading. Non-ferrous metal is more valuable than ferrous metal because it does not corrode as easily. Ferrous metals contain traces of iron which rusts and needs treating in order to survive the elements.  Non-ferrous metal is used to produce high-grade items such as copper wiring which is extremely valuable. Lead is also a non-ferrous metal which is used in church rooves. Both copper and lead are stolen by thieves who want to make money by selling it for scrap.

The most commonly used non-ferrous metal is aluminium which is mainly produced in Australia. Aluminium production is having a very negative effect on the environment and the resources required to produce it are diminishing.  It is easy to tell the difference between non-ferrous and ferrous metal because the former is not magnetic while the latter is.

Non-Ferrous Balers Or Shear Balers

Challenger Group builds a wide variety of non-ferrous balers which are also known as shear balers.  They are most suited to small to medium-sized scrap yards where an economical and efficient solution is required to process non-ferrous metal and bulky ferrous metal.  Non-ferrous balers are ideal for recycling car shells, scrap aluminium, stainless vessels and factory offcuts.  

The shear baler produces bales which are 300 mm by 300 mm wide with varying lengths,  Non-ferrous balers can be static floor-mounted assemblies on skid frames or trailer mounted with cranes and discharge conveyors allowing them to be fully portable.  They are electric motor driven and powered by hydraulic units producing a cycle time of 30 to 120 seconds.

All of our non-ferrous balers are bespoke and built to individual company’s requirements.  If you would like to find out more about non-ferrous balers contact us and we would be happy to discuss your options.