WIX Filters Enter The Industrial Hydraulic Market - Plant Maintenance And Engineering Article

Friday, 19 November 2004

November 2004

By Jim Borneman, Editor In Chief, Plant Maintenance And Engineering

Industrial hydraulic applications add to the broad range of filters available from Wix Filtration Products.

Visit Wix Filtration Products’ Gastonia, N.C.-based Allen Plant and you’ll find 600,000 square feet of manufacturing floor space dedicated to merging nonwovens filter media and metal fabrication into state-of-the-art filtration technology. The plant, WIX’s largest, employs between 900 and 1,000 workers and is the largest consumer of filtration media in the United States. The Allen Plant also consumes 1.7 million pounds of steel every seven days.

Since opening in 1966, the air-conditioned plant has expanded twice. Current capacity allows the plant to churn out 3,800 different parts, typically adding 200 new parts per year to the product line.

The manufacturing process blends automation and manufacturing cells to deliver a broad range of filtration solutions. The process moves from virgin flat steel to can drawing, where the filter’s steel pressure vessels are formed through progressive drawing and stamping — forming the ubiquitous seamless steel pressure vessel that houses the filter media. At another cell, metal stamping is used to form components with some parts running through automated threading mills that cut threads into filter bottom plates. Filter media with various specifications are pleated — some layered with wire screen at the pleater or with additional filter media based on filter design — and cut to size for the final assembly process.

Final assembly brings together media, engineered internal components and the pressure vessel. The manufacturing line continues with exterior painting and labeling. Seals are inserted on the exterior of the mounting plate, and the finished units are tested prior to automated packing of the canister-style spin-on filters for delivery.

The Allen Plant also manufactures various cartridge-style filters that utilize specialized plastisol-based processing for seamless affixing of the media to the end-rings in manufacturing — a unique attribute of WIX technology. Other mounting chemistry can be used to meet specifications for a particular filter cartridge end-use.

Industrial Hydraulics

WIX, with a long history in mobile hydraulics filtration, sees industrial hydraulic applications as an opportunity to expand current mobile offerings, as well as to offer appropriate technology to a new market. According to the company, contaminated hydraulic fluid is the root cause of more than 70 percent of all hydraulic system failures. WIX entered the industrial hydraulics market last year and its line continues to grow.

“The hydraulics arena provides WIX with a good growth area,”said Bruce Johnston, brand manager, WIX Filtration Products. The company will use its broad distribution network of auto parts suppliers to service and make industrial hydraulic filtration products available to manufacturing plant locations.

“We entered the hydraulic filter market because, frankly, we have a lot to offer,” said Chris Greeson, senior technical service manager, WIX Filtration Products. “As a company, we have made terrific engineering advances in our heavy-duty filter line — many of which have been incorporated into our industrial hydraulic filters.” When asked about his dream filter media, Greeson said: “It’s about media development and compositions that meet customers’ needs. Multi-layer, waterproof — with the ability to run 4 to 5 microns with 30- to 40-gallon-per-minute flow and less than 1-psi [pound per square inch] drop — but we need faster development without nonwovens suppliers being nervous.”

The industrial hydraulic products will focus on return side applications, typically running to 300 psi, with the largest filter measuring 39 inches tall by 6 inches in diameter. WIX is fully equipped to meet beta ratios specified by plant engineers for their applications, and also offers fluid analysis.

WIX has expanded its current mobile offerings by adding industrial hydraulic filters to its product line.

Separating Water From Compressed Air

In a separate industrial application, WIX’s AquaChek product is making inroads in the compressed air filtration market, where moisture is a problem — often causing corrosion and valve failure.

The product is based on filter media technology that captures water molecules present in compressed air. Polymers in the filter media react with the water molecules, encapsulating them and making the moisture semi-solid. The trapped water cannot re-release into the compressed air stream, and the filter can retain up to 50 times its weight in water — from 10 to 90 ounces depending on filter size.

AquaChek is reported to operate at from 15 to 200 cubic feet per minute at a maximum pressure ranging from 125 to 250 psi. At full saturation, the filter will create no more than a 0.5-psi drop in pressure and has a useful life not to exceed six months, depending on system and environmental conditions. As WIX reports, “In real world applications, users have reported as much as a four-fold increase in tool and equipment life and a dramatic reduction in corrosion-related maintenance and repair.”

Chris Greeson, senior technical service manager, Wix Filtration Product

WIX Goes Racing

Few sports have the notoriety and marketing advantages that the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) enjoys. WIX’s involvement with racing started in 1968, and in 1996, WIX became the officially licensed filter of NASCAR. In recent years, WIX has put filtration technology to work, teaming up with Joe Gibbs Racing to protect drivers from the harmful effects of carbon monoxide, soot and debris encountered while racing. The company reports that WIX and Joe Gibbs Racing are making the patented technology available to all drivers and teams in NASCAR.

“Our commitment to research and development combined with our focus on manufacturing the most technologically advanced filters on the market not only give NASCAR drivers and teams a competitive edge, but they also give our heavy-duty and hydraulic customers an edge as well,” said Johnston. “Because our filters stand up to the most rigorous race conditions, you can rest assured that WIX filters will provide optimum filtration performance and protection for any piece of machinery or equipment.”

November 2004

By Jim Borneman, Editor In Chief, Plant Maintenance And Engineering