True Temper Sports has been a leading producer of golf shafts since shortly after the U.S. Golf Association legalized steel shafts-as a replacement for hickory-in 1926. At peak production the company out puts 100,000 pieces per day…
All of the company's products are manufactured in their Amory, MS plant, which also manufactures bicycle frame components and a variety of steel products for the automotive and recreation industries.
The steel golf shafts are a product of 41 individual manufacturing steps. The process starts with 1,500 lb rolls of carbon steel; with a typical roll being used to produce up to 4,500 finished golf shafts. The flat steel is placed through a series of rollers and then welded into a tube with a one-inch diameter (more than twice the diameter of a finished golf shaft.) The excess weld scarf is immediately removed on both the inside and outside of the tube to maintain uniform wall thickness. These tubes are then cut into 18-ft lengths and placed in a normalizing furnace more than 1,500 degree. This closely monitored environment ensures that the welded steel maintains its essential metal properties. The tubes are then cleaned and lubricated in a pickle and phosphate bath prior to being placed on draw benches that will reduce the diameters of the tubes in order for them to become golf shafts.
Twelve computer-controlled draw benches capable of drawing up to five tubes per pass begin to reduce the steel tubes. Each pass through the draw bench reduces the diameter of the tube while increasing its overall length. Following each pass, the tubes must be normalized and bathed. The tubes are drawn five times prior to reaching the diameter of a finished golf shaft and will have been stretched to an incredible length of 42 feet. During the final draw pass, a mandrel inside the tube is programmed to manipulate the wall thickness allowing the creation of a heavy tipped, heavy butt or double-butted product. It is in the pass that the specific shaft design is realized. The tube is then cut into individual shaft lengths and sent to the taper press operation.
The taper press applies the "steps" to the golf shaft. Each die on the press is set at a specific depth and reduces the shaft to a specific diameter. The shaft is lowered into the die, lifted and rotated until all of the steps have been applied. This process is critical to ensure proper flex and playability of the finished product. The shafts are heat treated to increase the Rockwell hardness value of the steel. This is also known as the "tempering" process. After heat treatment, the shafts are checked for straightness. The shaft is then ready for the treatment of a lifetime as it is bathed in duplex nickel and chrome tanks that provide the high-gloss shine of the finished golf shaft. This is considered to be one of the most critical processes. These final steps are what give the shaft its high-gloss shine. Because polishing is so integral to both product appearance and product performance, every effort is made to assure the process is optimally consistent and reliable. After the plating process, the shafts are inspected for quality and shipped around the globe to be used by the best players in the world and weekend warriors alike.
As with all metal polishing operations, the safe and efficient collection of airborne particulate-fines and process dusts-is a key concern. A second important issue is the management and disposal of that collected material.
In 2002, True Temper decided to replace one of several polishing process dust collectors due to internal corrosion and an increasing demand for maintenance. The company considered several alternatives, including both wet and dry dust collection equipment. For assistance, True Temper sought the advice of Air Solution, Inc., a manufacturers' representative firm offering products and services to solve industrial ventilation problems, with whom they had worked with previously.
According to Preston Hall of Air Solutions, True Temper required a product with a documented history of operating reliability, proven performance, low maintenance, as well as rust-resistant construction, the ability to operate without unscheduled shutdowns, and reasonable cost on the equipment and installation. Air Solutions recommended Whirl Wet Model MCD ("modular conveyor drag-out") wet dust collection system as manufactured by Tri-Mer Corporation, Owosso, MI.
More than 800 Whirl Wet systems serve a broad range of metal grinding and polishing operations, including those involving volatile materials such as titanium and magnesium. Because the system is effective for the collection of all particulates one micron and above, both soluble and insoluble, systems are used throughout the food, chemical, and aggregate industries. The technology, developed by Tri-Mer, has a long history of high uptime performance and safety.
The system is highly streamlined in its design and does not have internal moving parts or re-circulation devices. In fact, the only thing that moves inside the unit is air. As a result, there are not spray nozzles, pumps or bags to wear, replace or clog.
The system uses a special process to create intense mixing of particulate and water and facility collection. To infuse dust particles with water droplets, the mixture is passed under high velocity through a fixed-position, dual-opposed blade configuration. A tangential air stream is injected into the lower blade assembly to enhance turbulence, rotation is accelerated, an integral mist eliminator positioned downstream isolates droplets in the air stream, and particulate is deposited on the bottom of the unit.
Depending on the type of material collected and the user's preference, material can be handled as conventional waste, filter-pressed or recovered.
The system is different in that it continuously self-cleans. Water use, also, is minimal. After the initial charge, the only water make-up required is that needed to compensate for evaporation and drag-out. As a result, it is often preferred in areas where water is scarce or costly.
The unit is constructed of mild steel with stationary polypropylene impellers. A corrosion-resistant liner protects mild-steel wetted surfaces on the interior of the collector. Because the impellers are 100% polypropylene and resist the accumulation of the collected material, corrosion on the impellers and blockage within the impellers is prevented.
Systems are supplied with one of three disposal options: manual, timed drain-down or a Modular Conveyor Drag-out (MCD). The latter is recommended for heavy dust loading applications, including grinding and polishing operations, because it allows quick, easy removal of densely-packed residue without shutting down the polishing operation-or even the dust collector itself.
The modular drag-out conveyors inherent in the disposal system are in sharp contrast to that employed in the original dust collection equipment. The previous unit employed a drag-out that was permanently installed on sprockets that were submerged in the collector. Any drag-out maintenance typically required that the collector be shut down and drained, resulting in the waste of water and costly downtime.
It is never necessary to drain the unit in order to service the drag-outs. The drag-out conveyors of the MCD model units can be removed without shutting down the system by removing two bolts and disconnecting the drag-out wiring. The conveyor can then be serviced remotely as needed.
The dust collector system at True Temper has operated continuously since its installation in early 2002. Beyond the advantages of efficient collection of polishing dusts and fines (average efficiencies for all dusts one micron and above are 8-99% and above), the system has also contributed to cleaner indoor air and simpler housekeeping
Even though the collector is installed inside the facility, noise is not a problem. True Temper chose to use the fan from its previous system and mount the fan on the roof. Since it is the only moving part in the system and is located external to the work environment.
Requirements for system reliability and "zero unscheduled down-time" have been achieved. High collection efficiency is maintained for lower emissions to atmosphere. Maintenance and operating costs are low, and True Temper has provided a work environment with better air quality and lower noise levels for workers.