Add Efficiency with Conveyors and Feeders Designed Specifically for This Application

Centerless grinding automation fuels and improves the rate of parts produced through one of the oldest machining processes in use.

When cylindrical parts require a tight outer diameter tolerance over their length, a centerless grinding operation is often the manufacturer’s best option. Simply, a centerless grinder removes material from a part by passing it between spinning abrasive wheels.

No spindles or fixtures are necessary to secure the part during the process. Instead, two rotary grinding wheels control the parts as they pass through the machine. Automating the feeding step further optimizes an already efficient process, enabling long-duration, unmanned operation.

From the beginning, Feedall Automation has worked with machine tool manufacturers to implement ways to streamline their operations. In centerless grinding, Cincinnati Milacron (now simply Milacron) was once the gold standard for producing outer diameter/cylindrical grinders. Even today, many years after their initial construction, Milacron grinders remain hard at work around the world as rebuilders maintain and repair this machinery to keep them functioning in an essential role in manufacturing processes.

Decades ago, Feedall worked hand-in-hand with Cincinnati Milacron to design and develop automation solutions to serve centerless grinders. That experience, which goes back 75 years, has led to finely-tuned, proven tools dedicated to maximizing production for centerless grinding workstations. Today, we’re examining some of those solutions. They remain as relevant as ever as many of those same grinders — refurbished and repaired over the years — continue to be key manufacturing tools.

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Centerless Grinding Automation Solutions

To get the most out of your centerless grinder operation, you’ll want automation solutions that deliver parts into the process, move them through the application, and then propel them to the next stage in the line. Feedall Automation provides the most advanced line of custom automation equipment available in the market. Our team members are experts in designing and building high-volume, dependable custom automation equipment for a broad industry base including industrial supplies and parts.

When it comes to improving centerless grinding automation, Feedall has a large selection of feeders that deliver results, can be outfitted with tooling to suit your specific environment, and come with the complete backing and support of our experienced engineering and service teams. Here’s a look at a few of our automation solutions in this specific area.

Industrial Parts Feeders

Maintaining a steady flow of parts into your centerless grinding application is necessary to reach consistent benchmarks and production levels. One of the most essential pieces of material handling equipment, and a critical part of your entire line, is a parts feeder.

Feeders are used to introduce parts to the manufacturing process and come in many types, based on your production levels and goals, and the shape and design of your parts. For the billets, bars, and tube shapes typically used centerless grinding, either magazine-style automatic bar feeders or auto-loaded hopper bar feeders will ensure the pace of parts entering the line remains consistent.

Magazine style Bar Feeders minimize the hand-loading needed for bars and tubes and boast feed rates of up 1,500 parts per hour. Depending on the specific model, these feeders can handle part diameters from ¼” to 4” and lengths of 2” up to a whopping 12 feet. These can be used to feed a host of applications, including a centerless grinder.

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Auto Loaded Bar Feeders eliminate the need for hand loading and naturally orient parts with the elevator belt, thus eliminating recirculation of misoriented parts. This feeder is designed for higher feed rates and gentle handling of the parts with lower noise levels. Heavy-duty billet feeders represent the larger-part version of these kinds of feeders. Engineered to avoid the use of vibration or gravity to manipulate the part orientation, these heavy-duty feeders prevent parts from recirculating or falling back into the queue.

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Conveyor Systems

As parts are loaded into the production line, you need methods for quickly and efficiently moving them into and from the next application — in this case, a centerless grinder. As mentioned, Feedall’s long history with centerless grinders has helped us develop the needed specifics to deliver automation solutions particularly suited for this application.

  • Wheel wear compensation — All Feedall conveyors can be outfitted with optional floor support stands with linear bearings designed to adjust the conveyor for when the grinding wheels wear down or are replaced.
  • Belt types — Depending on your parts and the needed finish after the part has been processed, you can select from a variety of belt types and widths. Silent chain and polyurethane belt types enable you to match the conveyor to the part being processed. For instance, you’ll want a polyurethane belt when non-marring is a requirement.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the many conveyor systems Feedall provides.

The Model 1650 Centerless Grinder Conveyor is the primary building block of an integrated automation system. Developed in concert with Cincinnati Milacron a half-century ago, these pieces of equipment have remained a proven part of any centerless grinding cell. The 1650 can handle a variety of sizes and shapes that require outer diameter grinding, and loading is no problem as the machinery can use load ramps, hopper feeders, dumpers, and metering hoppers to add capacity and auto-load.

When paired with Feedall bar and hopper feeders, a complete automatic feeding system is achieved. These thru-feed conveyors handle parts quickly and smoothly from one workstation to the next and can accommodate harsh conditions like chips and grinder swarf. Options include belt variations, pinch or drive wheels, and pneumatic transfer devices.

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Model 1680 Dual Round Belt Conveyors deliver many of the same benefits of a flat belt conveyor without any of the drawbacks. Convenient for part removal from grinders, lathes, and other machinery, these multiple belt conveyors use a precision-machined side plate for a more rigid structure and increased operational life. Coolant and lubricant recirculate through built-in drip trays to keep your floors clean. Cincinnati-style mounting brackets are available for both the entrance and exit end of the grinder and custom-designed direct mounting plates are available for any type of machine.

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Lastly, Model 1670 Exit Conveyors are specifically designed to mount to the grinder’s lower slide and exit parts to the front of the grinder for end feed applications. They are capable of feeding all kinds of different parts. The belt support rail is milled on each side to allow coolant to flow through the conveyor and heat-treated steel is rail mounted on the load side of the entrance end of the conveyor to act as a bumper rail as parts exit the grinder work rest.

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Putting it all together: View a case study that shows how our feeders and conveyors work together for a centerless grinder application.

Proven Expertise in Centerless Grinding Automation

From the start, Feedall Automation has been developing, implementing, and augmenting solutions to improve the efficiency of centerless grinding. With feeding systems and conveyors complimented by value-adding additions, Feedall provides the necessary equipment for you to get the most out of your manufacturing operations. We’re the partner your business needs to gain a competitive advantage in today’s challenging world.

At Feedall, we customize every single piece of equipment we offer to our clients’ exact specifications and production goals. It all starts with a proven foundation that our engineers and technicians expand upon to help you reach your production and efficiency targets. You can trust our equipment to stand up to the test of time as it’s all backed up with best-in-class repair, support services, and parts availability. For instance, our centerless grinding automation conveyors are all tested based on a 24/7 operating schedule.

When you collaborate with Feedall, you’re not working with a partner who contributes one part or system to your manufacturing process. You’re working with a partner that delivers complete systems that can be integrated throughout your production line.

Connect with us today to learn more about our capabilities and how we can help your organization and production facility.