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The Finish Line—Vibratory Deburring, Washing and Cleaning Options Get Personal at Almco

by Matthew Jaster, Associate Editor

Spiral-Bottom Round Bowl Deburring

Spiral-Bottom Round Bowl Deburring

You won't find a group of suit and ties sitting around a table at Almco, Inc. debating the merits of R&D for future product innovations. The Minnesota-based manufacturer of finishing and cleaning systems prefers to get a feel for industry needs directly from its customer base. "It's been that way for 57 years," says Larry Beavens, vice president of sales and marketing at Almco. "Our best innovations come directly from our customers. They come to us with a problem to solve and we provide a variety of custom solutions."

Working within the company's Process Development Lab, Almco engineers/designers sample-process parts and offer custom design solutions. "There are roughly 35 pieces of equipment in our laboratory and seven engineers on-hand to assist with product development," Beavens says. "It was not uncommon before the recession hit to find customers from all over the world coming to our laboratory to check out the equipment or discuss a new product idea."

This philosophy of identifying industry improvements through customer applications has translated into many long-term relationships, particularly in the gear market.

"Our spindle finishing equipment is still very big for our company, despite much of the consolidation here in the gear market and the fact that a lot of business has gone off-shore," Beavens says. "We've managed to hang around and keep our equipment relevant."

Centrifuge Recycling System

Centrifuge Recycling System

One gear customer, in particular, recently spoke with Beavens about updating an Almco machine that had been in operation since 1965. "It was still running today, but using that much water over the years eventually led to some rust issues. To have a machine in operation that long is quite a testimonial to its overall value."

Recent discussions within the organization have led management at Almco to identify other customers that might need similar upgrades. "The plan is to go back into the archives and see where some updated spindle equipment might be a good fit for our gear customers. It can't be stressed enough in today's manufacturing environment to make sure your equipment is updated and you're utilizing the best technology available."

Almco preaches the company's technological benefits most successfully at trade shows, where face time and a greater exposure to a variety of industrial markets trumps other sales initiatives. "We like to get out and walk the trade show floors, particularly IMTS, FABTECH and the Turbo Expo. It's an opportunity to find quality leads and create a potential new customer base," Beavens adds.

As of late, Almco is finding new business in countries like China, Japan, Romania, Poland and Brazil. A new focus on Mexico might also secure more business in the future. "We'll be traveling down to Mexico soon to get a feel for the industrial market and what opportunities might be available."

Wherever new business takes them, Beavens believes the company's personalized service and custom solutions keep them relevant in the cleaning and finishing market. This is a far cry from the "cookie-cutter" approach taken by some of the competition, according to Beavens. "If one machine doesn't work for a customer, the competition will just offer a different machine. We'd rather come up with a definitive solution that's efficient and takes a more personal approach, one that goes beyond our normal services."

The footwork they've put in is already paying off in 2011. "We're starting to see the same numbers that came in prior to the recession and business is picking up," Beavens says. "We're optimistic it's going to get even better."

Tumble Blast Machine

Tumble Blast Machine

Almco Product Round-Up
In addition to Almco's spindle finishing equipment, the company has recently introduced a new spiral-bottom round bowl deburring machine, a centrifuge recycling system and a tumble blast machine. The company will be introducing an updated company website with additional product information and news in May of 2011.

Spiral-Bottom Round Bowl Deburring. The SBB-24, a new model in a line of spiral-bottom round bowl deburring machines that offers a full circle baffle that keeps parts in the media mass constantly for faster, more precise processing and a 24-cubic foot tub that can accommodate large as well as small parts. This energy efficient design boasts faster separation of parts and faster machine unloading. The uphill tub bottom provides a larger rolling mass right to the screen area. This allows for larger parts to be lifted up the dam and over the screening area. The SBB-24 includes a 20 hp variable speed drive motor. The overall machine dimensions are 96 inches long, excluding the electrical control box, and 82 inches wide.

Centrifuge Recycling System. A unique, self-cleaning centrifuge system-offered in single-stage and dual stage models-automatically separates fine particulate from water-based solutions in most metal parts deburring equipment. The SSC-40 and DSC-40 can be purchased with new equipment or retrofitted to any deburring machine in the field and solves long-lasting, costly recycling problems and improves cleaning performance. Both models are equipped with PLC controls that result in fully automatic cycles. The single-stage unit is 47 inches long; the double-stage unit is 85 inches long.

Tumble Blast Machine. The ATB-7 is a tumble blast machine that offers faster cleaning speeds and time cycles and can be moved from one location to another thanks to its compact size. The unit features a patented Smartwheel that delivers 325 pounds per minute of abrasive at 300 feet per second velocity. Its heavy-duty cabinet construction provides additional strength and the swing away design of the NEMA 12 control panel allows quick access to mill rolls and bearings. The double doors on the rear cabinet provide easy access to the cabinet and screens. The ATB-7 is available with an optional Donaldson Torit dust collection system and is the initial abrasive blast unit that was added by Almco to its expanding line of metal parts deburring, finishing and cleaning equipment.

For more information:
Almco, Inc.
507 West Front Street
Albert Lea, MN 56007
Phone: (800) 521-2740