American Machinist

System cleans up railroad's chip problem. (Case books).

A COMMUTER RAILROAD IN THE NORTHEAST WAS FACING safety and ergonomic challenges when grinding and milling train wheels back into shape. At its New York facility, metal chips shed from a 40-year-old wheel-truing machine were blown by compressed air into a pit underneath the machine. Cleaning the pit was labor intensive, and blown chips caused maintenance problems. The solution was a central vacuum system.

Facility workers would crawl into the pit and shovel metal chips into buckets, which were hauled up. The space was narrow, and workers could barely maneuver in it. In addition, machinists operating the machine stood above a noisy blower on a grating above the pit. As if this wasn't bad enough, the machine manufacturer no longer recommended blowing chips because they lodged in the machine's gears, slides, tracks, and bearings. …

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