Lochinvar Corporation opened a new 50,000 square-foot storage tank plant in Lebanon, Tenn. Utilizing the absolute latest in tank production technology, the plant is already redefining industry standards for storage tank manufacturing. The ASME-certified plant produces storage vessels for commercial, industrial and institutional use. The tanks being produced vary in capacity from 200 to 5000 gallons, with high volume production in the 200 to 1000 gallon range. They are ideal for use in applications such as hotels, restaurants and schools.
“The technology we’re using in this facility is unequaled in the industry," said Al Gatlin, Lochinvar vice president of plant operations. “Through every stage of the process, we’re pioneering new standards in tank production. This is the tank plant of the future.”
The technology used in Lochinvar’s tank plant includes:
· Trumatic L4030 laser - This device uses a special technology known as “flying optics” to cut openings in the steel tank shells. “Flying optics” utilizes a pre-programmed laser head, which moves over the steel plate as it cuts. The device achieves a cutting accuracy of ± 1/4000 of an inch, far greater than the “manual” method, which achieves an industry standard of ± 1/2 inch. Plus, the holes are clean, precise and uniform from shell to shell.
· PLC-controlled enamel spraying equipment –This totally automated machine uses a mechanical arm, mounted with four application spray guns, to apply glass lining to the interior of the tanks. The machine rotates the tank while the arm travels into the tank and applies the precise amount of glass to the surface of the tank’s interior. Special PLC controls allow for a programmer to set the parameters of each size tank and input an number that will preset the guns and turning speed of the tank.
· Semi-automated blast system – The preparation of the surface area of a tank is crucial to achieve a good bond for the lining that is applied to the interior. This system ensures an optimum cleaning process by firing tiny, bb-sized steel “shot” into the interior of the tanks. Fired at a machine-gun rate, the shot cleans the tanks more effectively than current industry methods and is recycled, making the procedure environmentally friendly.
· PLC-controlled furnace system – Perhaps the most impressive element in the production process, this furnace system utilizes the largest intermittent, indexing furnace in North America. The system is designed to automate the tank curing process, which creates molecular bonding between the glass lining and the tank’s interior. With the use of PLC controls, the system can precisely hold the time and temperatures of the furnace to assure the lining is properly bonded to the tank’s interior. The furnace is capable of reaching temperatures of more than 1500° F.
"You just don't see this kind of automation in storage tank plants today," said Gatlin. "Most tank plants are merely glorified blacksmith shops. We’re using computer-driven lasers.“ “This technology is an important step for the HVAC industry. This type of automation technology is becoming standard in other manufacturing industries. With this plant, we at Lochinvar are hoping to once again push the limits of technology and introduce new concepts and procedures to the HVAC industry,” he added.
Lochinvar Corporation is a leading manufacturer of high-efficiency water heaters, boilers and storage vessels. Based in Nashville, Tenn., with facility centers in Detroit, Mich., Dallas, Tex., Tampa, Fla., and Philadelphia, PA., Lochinvar stocks equipment at all locations. ###