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Hot Off the Press


Air Casters Help Manufacturer
Relocate its Heavy Stamping Presses

Thursday, May 27, 2004
The Pocahontas, AR, plant of Waterloo Industries (Sedalia, MO), producer of tool-storage products, recently reorganized its plant layout to increase productivity and capacity. To relocate its arsenal of stamping presses, which weigh as much as 50,000 lb., with minimal disruption to existing operations, the plant called on an air-caster rigging kit from Aeris Corp., Kalamazoo, MI. The kit comprises a control console with an inlet on/off ball valve and four self-relieving pressure regulators to individually adjust the pressure in each of four 27-in.-dia. air casters. Total lifting capacity is 112,000 lb. With the air casters placed under a press and inflated, a forklift tied to the load with a steel chain can push and control the movement of the press in all directions. Air casters float the load on a thin film of air, 0.003 to 0.005 in. thick. They allow maneuvering around tight corners and in aisle s while protecting the floor finish. Aeris ( makes them in diameters from 12 to 60 in. for load capacity from 200 lb. to thousands of tons. Waterloo Industries, a division of American Brands, manufactures roller cabinets, tool boxes, power-tool stands and similar fabricated sheetmetal products. Customers include Sears, for which it manufactures under the Craftsman brand.

Macomb (MI) Community College Partners
for Training Facility

Wednesday, May 26, 2004
Through a partnership between Macomb (MI) Community College, General Motors and Comau PICO, a supplier of automation systems, two training laboratories and three training cells have been installed at Macomb’s Michigan Technical Education Center (MTEC). The installation answers a need in manufacturing where production companies may not have space or personnel to provide hands-on training. For the robotic-welding cell, GM has donated two Fanuc robots and a fully simulated multistage robotic-welding process. A press-to-press automation simulator and machining center round out the training-cell offerings. The two laboratories, one for programmable-logic-controller/drives technology and the other for hydraulic and pneumatic technology, provide training for programming, editing and troubleshooting systems that run advanced manufacturing processes. Providing the training are Macomb’s Workforce Development Institute and Comau PICO personnel. The MTEC cells and labs can help with your company’s training needs. For more information, surf to

Press Tonnage Control Earns Energy Savers Award

Tuesday, May 25, 2004
The Entrepreneurs for Energy Efficiency, Houston, TX, has presented its National Energy Savers Award to Ford Motor Co. for the automaker’s work in commercializing the Force Modulator system. The energy-efficient technology was developed to improve the operation of stamping presses, particularly those used to form lighter-weight materials such as high-strength steel and aluminum. The system, developed by Smedberg Machine Corp. and marketed by Metalforming Controls Corp., provides a soft hit, user-controlled tonnage at all points in the stroke, hold on bottom and a controlled binder-ring return. As lack of tonnage control during the press stroke has been considered a barrier to the use of aluminum and high-strength steel, this technology will accelerate use of these materials in auto/truck applications, thus reducing vehicle weight and improving fuel economy, according to the technology’s backers. That capability resulted in the award presentation. For more, visit


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