New Year, New Opportunities

It’s that time of year again—the holidays are upon us, and the New Year is just around the corner. We’d like to start by wishing all of our friends and customers a very happy holiday season, and thank you for making our 83rd year in business another great one!

We think our country and our industry have a lot to be thankful for this year. The economy is picking up, and reshoring brought a significant amount of business back to North America. Companies of every size realized the value in manufacturing closer to home. Because of that, even small manufacturing businesses in North America can be relevant and competitive, while expanding and offering more employment opportunities.

But there are challenges—especially when it comes to employment. While those opportunities do exist, and businesses are growing, there aren’t enough qualified workers to fill positions and meet demand. We’d like to see more time and effort put into training workers, pointing kids in the direction of the trades, and showing students the value in a manufacturing career. After all, if we are going to compete at the highest level and stay successful, we need qualified people to take on the available roles.

While this seems to be the biggest challenge the industry faces right now, we’re sure there are ways to address it. After all, we’re coming off of a very successful year—we’ve just bought two new machines to keep up with the growing demand—and one of our goals for 2015 is to continue meeting those demands and getting the volume out the door. We’re also investing in new technology and computerizing all operations while reducing labor requirements and we’re confident it’s going to be another great year for us.

We wish everyone the best of luck meeting the challenges and demands, and more than anything, a happy, healthy, successful new year!

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4 Things to Know about Centrifugal Clutches and Go Karts

The centrifugal clutch: as versatile as it is important. Not only are there many advantages that this type of clutch provides—energy savings, smooth acceleration, ease of maintenance, etc.—but there are so many applications that benefit from it.

Go karts are one of them. In fact, a high quality centrifugal clutch can make for a very good Go-kartsgo kart, which, in turn, can provide team building, stress release, and hours of recreation. But as fun as go karts are, there are countless considerations regarding the clutch used in them, and these considerations must be taken seriously.

These are four of them:

1) Not just any clutch should be used in just any go kart; putting high-quality industrial clutches in an ordinary go kart is not ideal, and can affect the lifespan of the clutch.

2) A controlled environment is best for industrial clutches. Go karts designed specifically by an engineer to do particular test runs help make the clutch last longer. The engineering of the kart affects how the equipment will run, and this must be carefully researched and designed.

3) Variable speeds will change the clutch’s capabilities; industrial clutches such as BLM’s are designed to run at a specific RPM. This is also where the controlled environment helps, as the size of the track and speed are also controlled.

4) The way you drive a go kart affects the clutch. For example, driving with your foot on the brake the entire time, or quickly stopping and then going repeatedly affect its lifespan. In this way, yet again, driving in a controlled environment such as a track is better for the clutch.

It’s important to remember that if parts are randomly put together into a go kart, without taking into account the different variables and mechanisms, the clutch—and the go kart itself—will not last. Finally, keep in mind that our premium clutches cannot be used in just any go kart; we make quality clutches for quality karts, and when used correctly, the two go hand in hand for many years of fun.

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Save the Date: Manufacturing Day 2014

If you’ve heard about or participated in Manufacturing Day since it began two years ago, you won’t be surprised to learn that this year, it’s projected to be bigger and better than ever.

The date: October 3, 2014. The mission: to address “common misperceptions about jobshopmanufacturing” while “amplify[ing] the voice of individual manufacturers” to address collective challenges.*

This year’s event will include even more career and educational workshops, open houses at facilities and plants, factory tours, and activities. It will also serve to encourage and engage young people, and show them how they can benefit from today’s manufacturing, which is more exciting and innovative than ever before.

Anyone can get involved. Individual businesses can open their doors and host official MFG Day events. Community leaders and business owners can sponsor events while supporting the MFG DAY mission. Educators, parents, and students can attend events; together, everyone can collectively celebrate this great industry.

After all, American manufacturing is more competitive than it has been in decades, and it’s continuing its remarkable comeback. It is a technologically-advanced, exciting industry that is the backbone of our country’s economy, and as such, it deserves to be celebrated, on MFD DAY, and every day.

Through this celebration and the events taking place around the country, manufacturers can show the world what they do and how important they are, while getting people involved, excited, and interested.

We encourage everyone—parents and teachers, fellow manufacturers, and anyone in between—to get involved and celebrate this great industry, an industry that’s critical to this country’s success.

* http://www.mfgday.com/about-us

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Preventative Maintenance and Centrifugal Clutches: Avoiding Catastrophe

Consider this scenario: your business is booming, demand is higher than it’s been in years, and everything is on the right track—and then an emergency happens. You’ve been working so hard to get business where it now is, that you’ve forgotten to invest in a backup. You need to get back up and running right away, but your centrifugal clutch has died. Now what?

Unfortunately, it will take time to get a replacement clutch; each one is unique, and the 256px-Maintenance-time.svgright one for you is not going to be available immediately. You are then sitting there stagnant, and depending on a variety of factors, your wait time could be up to eight weeks.

Why Preventative Maintenance Matters

In any environment, from pumping to water treatment and mining, this scenario can happen, and planning ahead could have prevented it. Preventative maintenance assures both immediate and long-term savings, greater efficiency, significant time savings, and overall plant safety. It makes all the difference.

Preventative Maintenance and Centrifugal Clutches

In order to prevent the aforementioned scenario, there are steps you can take. First, make an overall assessment of your business now that it’s picking up, and decide how essential that clutch is to your functioning. If it’s critical to your business, now is the time to order a backup clutch.

Also, determine if your current clutch might be on its way out. Check the number of hours it’s been in use; while there’s no set number that’s too much, and it differs by clutch and by application, you can assess the wear on the clutch and the environment in which it’s been used. For example, something that’s been on standby may last ten years, while something in use every day will have a lot more wear and could need to be replaced much sooner.

Always err on the side of caution, and when in doubt, contact us and tell us about your clutch and your needs. We can help you determine whether or not it needs to be refurbished or replaced.

Why a Backup Makes All the Difference

No matter the state of your clutch or your particular application, failure can occur. In that event, no backup means no work. It means loss of time and money. Simply having a backup clutch provides the assurance and guarantee that in the event of an emergency, you’re okay.

Need advice or assistance, or want help choosing the right centrifugal clutch for your needs? Feel free to contact us anytime.

 

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Mechanical Clutches That Fulfill Many Requirements

A clutch may be most commonly associated with automobiles, but mechanical clutches are needed any time that the transmission of power or motion must be controlled.  There are many varieties of mechanical clutches, with each type designed to fulfill specific requirements.  One of the most commonly used types is the centrifugal clutch.

These clutch systems employ a centrifugal force to automatically engage when the engine rpm rises above a threshold and to disengage when it falls low enough.  The centrifugal clutch has a number of advantages.  No control mechanism is necessary to run it, and it is highly cost effective.  It also prevents the internal combustion engine from stalling when the output shaft is slowed or stopped abruptly, by using the engine in this fashion less braking force is required.

Centrifugal clutches are well known in smaller vehicles such as mopeds, but they are also used in a wide variety of industrial applications.  Centrifugal clutches can be found in a wide range of military applications as well as for chillers, municipal waterworks plants, and many more.  These clutches need to maintain constant alignment between the driven and drive side shafts in order to function properly.  Centrifugal clutches can be engineered to fit into applications with limited space, such as mining.  Mining is a highly demanding environment, and it’s important to use resilient and tough centrifugal clutches in this industry.  Mixers are important in a variety of fields, including the chemistry industry.  Centrifugal clutches play a vital role in helping chemical mixers run at the highest level of efficiency, and with optimal design, can prevent jams.  Finally, centrifugal clutches can be built to operate under harsh environmental conditions, including extreme cold.

Mechanical clutches are available in many different forms.  The centrifugal design has utility and versatility that allows it to be used in many diverse products, including augers, pumps, saws, kilns, compressors, power trowels, and many others.

 

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The Rising Demand—And Success—in the Mining Equipment Industry

If you follow the latest news and trends in American manufacturing, then you likely know that the industry is in the midst of a major recovery. Production and overall competitiveness in manufacturing is at levels not seen in many years, which is good news for business owners, manufacturing workers, and the country in general.

What this also means is that the economy is improving, and as this continues, along with more production, the demand for industrial machinery is expected to increase significantly. In fact, according to a recent report from IHS Technology, demand for manufacturing machines is expected to grow over 6%—more than twice the increase seen in 2013—and revenues are expected to reach $1.6 trillion this year.*

Furthermore, this rising demand for machinery and technology will result in a demand for Bergbau-Hammelmannmining tools and equipment. In fact, within the mining industry, experts predict that the global demand for mining machinery will grow 8.6% between now and 2017, reaching $135 billion.**

Steel and aluminum production, along with developments of other mining opportunities and growth in agriculture and construction, will push this demand throughout the world, with “voracious demand for mined materials”** in many developing countries serving as an incredible boost to the mining and mining equipment industries.

What does this mean for us and our customers? As premier manufacturers of the highest quality centrifugal clutches for clients in the mining industry, we see this as great news. Industrial clutches and centrifugal clutches are crucial to the mining industry, as well as to agriculture, construction, and many of the other industries in which machinery demand is expected to grow, and this means our clients will continue to see a demand for their products, and more need for ours.

All of our clutches ensure ease of maintenance, start loads efficiently (making them energy efficient), and can be customized for specific applications. This means that as your needs increase, you can be sure you will get the centrifugal clutches you need to meet and exceed your demands and expectations.

As we continue to see a rise in mining and industrial equipment requirements, we will look forward to making sure we do our part to keep this growth and success going strong.

*http://www.inddist.com/news/2014/04/rise-machines-industrial-machinery-market-growth-double-2014

**http://www.pitandquarry.com/global-demand-for-mining-machinery-expected-to-rise/

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The Ease of Maintenance of Our Centrifugal Clutch

In a previous blog post, we discussed the advantages of the centrifugal clutch. These included starting loads efficiently while saving energy, smooth acceleration, the elimination of expensive starting equipment, and more.

Another specific advantage of the centrifugal clutch is its ease of maintenance. Because our clutches_for_public_works.gifclutch is made of separate pieces, these pieces can be disassembled and easily taken apart without having to use a motor or a gear box. This means that when maintenance is needed, the clutch comes apart easily and allows for simple access.

BLM’s mechanism offers a distinct competitive advantage. In the competitors’ clutches, the majority are made as one solid unit, making it extremely difficult to do anything without taking the clutch apart entirely—it’s not a quick, easy fix.

However, our mechanism is in a drive body attached to a flange that can easily be dropped out, allowing the user to change the clutch out in a very short period of time. As anyone knows, saving time and money when it comes to maintenance are two of the biggest factors in remaining competitive, efficient, and successful.

Our custom centrifugal clutches are backed by over 80 years of experience. In this time, we’ve perfected the design of the clutch, knowing how to make them high quality, long lasting, and extremely easy to use and maintain.

Whatever your requirements, application, or industry, you can be sure the custom clutch will not only meet all of your exact requirements, but will be backed by these decades of research, advancement, and experience.

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The Waterworks Industry Prepares for the Future Where Keeping Water Pumping and Flowing Will Continue to be Critical

Each day, water utilities and other companies in the waterworks industry face challenges, some more critical than others. For example, the current California drought affects the waterworks industry and millions of people in the state, with repercussions in other industries and other states and locations around the world. The agriculture industry is affected, with limited irrigation abilities. Water conservation is being encouraged everywhere. Unfortunately, things don’t seem to be changing any time in the near future.

waterLast week, the U.S. Drought Monitor website, produced through a partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations, reported, “The benefits of the February and early-March precipitation rapidly diminished across California and the Southwest as unseasonable warmth and dryness increased water demands and depleted snowpacks.” A recent report in the New York Times, says, “There are scenes all across California that illustrate the power of the drought… People are watering trees with discarded dishwater, running the washing machine once a week, and letting their carefully tended beds of flowers and trees wither into patches of dusty dirt.”

California’s water woes illustrate the waterworks industry’s responsibilities and challenges faced in just one state. But these responsibilities and challenges, plus people’s overall reliance on the waterworks industry is a global challenge that is expected to become even more critical with time.

Common themes seem to be repeated in waterworks industry reports and news, including:

  • Drought is expected to continue in California for some time into the future.
  • The global population will keep growing, placing increasing demand on the world’s water supplies in the coming years and decades. In one industry report about the UK, alone, they predict “35% growth in water demand could be possible by 2050 due to population growth.”
  • The aging water infrastructure in the U.S. and around the world will need to be refurbished or replaced in the very near future to keep things pumping and flowing and to continue to meet global water supply demands.

Reporting on the aging U.S. water infrastructure, an American Water white paper, “Challenges in the Water Industry: Infrastructure and its Role in Water Supply,” says, “Today, this massive water supply system, serving 240 million Americans, is in serious need of replacement, upgrading and maintenance if it is to continue to support a growing U.S. population.”

While the challenges may change as the population grows and technology advances, the waterworks industry will continue to be charged with the responsibility of finding water resources, treating the water so that it’s consumable, and keeping the water flowing to where it’s needed most. Centrifugal clutches play a role in keeping the water flowing and pumping in all types of waterworks facilities. Compressors, engines, pumps, and generators often include and rely on centrifugal clutches. Through our experience manufacturing centrifugal clutches for a wide variety of industries, including the waterworks industry, we’ve seen first-hand how critical it is to keep things pumping and flowing in the waterworks industry. At BLM Automatic Clutch, we’re ready to partner with and assist companies in the waterworks industry to help overcome whatever challenges flow our way.

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Applications for Industrial Friction Clutches

You might be surprised to find how many applications there are for centrifugal clutches. A clutch is simply a mechanical device that permits the transmission of power from one component of a machine to another. Most people are familiar with the clutches used in personal vehicles such as cars and motorcycles, but in reality, clutches are also widely used in the mining, chemical and military industry, among others.

clutch-for-the-mining-IndustryThe mining industry relies on heavy-duty machines with reliable and durable components. Coal crushers are one example. Put simply, a coal crusher is a machine used for crushing rock and other bulk materials for further processing.  They reduce hard materials such as ore, coal and stone into smaller particles that are more convenient to use. These machines work by feeding the material between two large rollers that turn together while applying great force. They rely on a clutch, which connects the two rolling components so that they can spin together at the same speed.

In the chemical industry, clutches are employed in mixers. Mixers come in a number of different shapes and sizes, but essentially work according to the same principle. They use a motor to drive the shaft and blade rapidly, in a circular motion. In this case, the clutch serves to transmit motion from the motor to the mixer shaft, which then spins the blades. A special consideration when manufacturing clutches for the chemical industry is their ability to withstand heavy loads and demanding tasks.

Clutches are also widely employed in the military industry.  In military aircrafts, for example, clutches are found in autopilot systems, fuel control and air cabin control systems, among many others. These clutches must be able to endure harsh environmental conditions without sacrificing quality of performance. Some of these conditions include humidity, heat and vibrations. This type of application often calls for high performance friction materials.

Over the past 80 years, at BLM Automatic Clutch, we’ve manufactured a countless number of friction clutches for several types of applications. We work with customers in all manufacturing industries, and our clutches come in all types of combinations: coupling, flywheel, universal shaft, pulley, and soft start combinations. Our experienced engineering, design and manufacturing team can provide the correct clutch configuration to meet all types of requirements.

 

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Industrial Clutches Help Pump up Manufacturing Activity – and the Number of Jobs in Manufacturing Industries

Whether you’re looking at a water treatment plant, an aluminum processing facility or an aggregate crushing plant, we can guarantee there is an industrial clutch – most likely several of them – working behind the scenes in the pumps, crushers and processing equipment. Industrial clutches help pump up activity and keep things moving forward for manufacturers, and industrial clutches are used in every type of manufacturing industry, with applications in a wide range of processes.

clutches_for_public_worksAs manufacturing activity picks up its pace in North America, industrial clutches will be more heavily relied upon in the coming months and years. A recent report from CanadianBusiness.com says, “Expectations are rising for a stronger U.S. economy in 2014 after reports showed solid growth in manufacturing and construction spending at the end of last year.” Another article from BloombergBusinessweek.com reports, “The [manufacturing] rebound is very real, and it will likely gain even more momentum as companies worldwide come to realize the cost advantage U.S. manufacturing has gained from cheap domestic energy, most notably natural gas.”

Manufacturing job growth is also predicted in the BloombergBusinessweek.com article: “…by 2020, we could see up to 1.5 million manufacturing jobs and as many as 3.5 million additional jobs created because of the new factories that are being built.” This is all good news for manufacturers and for workers seeking manufacturing jobs.

Industrial clutches can’t take all the credit for the anticipated manufacturing boom, but they do play an important role in keeping manufacturing activities under control and moving along! At BLM Automatic Clutch Limited, we’ve manufactured industrial clutches for every type of application, and we’ve been doing this for over 80 years now. We produce two main designs of centrifugal clutches: Our Four Block series clutches (1/4-50 HP) for mortar mixers and conveyors, chippers, tampers, concrete pumps, refrigeration, etc.; and our Six Block Series (up to 3,000 HP) for large industrial and varied commercial applications, used in crushers, fans, deep well pumps and more. We’re also known for our high-quality custom clutches. If you need industrial clutches or have any questions about clutches, in general, give us a call at 800-268-4295, or tweet us @BLMAutomatic.

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