When air cooling proved to be too slow and created the potential for handling damage, one manufacturer looked for a better way.

Automotive Electronic Control Systems Inc., Anderson, S.C., reduced its product cooldown time by 94.7 percent with its installation of a portable spot-cooling unit.

How do you go from 121 to 75oF in less than two minutes? That's what Eric Garvin, manufacturing engineer of airflow components at Automotive Electronic Control Systems Inc. (AUTECS), Anderson, S.C., wanted to know.

To help solve this quandary, AUTECS looked to MovinCool, Denso Sales California Inc., Long Beach, Calif., to install a spot-cooling unit on its production line. After installation, the cooldown time of the company's HFM5 automotive airflow sensors was cut from 30 min to 96 sec -- a 94.7 percent reduction in cooldown time. Not only did this speed production significantly, but the wave soldering process no longer had to be interrupted to offload the sensors for cooling, which resulted in lower scrap due to handling damage. For AUTECS, the MovinCool spot-cooling unit translates into savings in production time, handling damage and manpower.

The Way It Was

AUTECS is a joint venture of Farmington Hills, Mich.-based Robert Bosch Corp. -- a leading automotive component manufacturer -- and Unisia Jecs, Japan. As a senior engineer, Garvin wanted to speed production of the company's HFM5 airflow sensors, which are used to measure the amount of air going to an engine's combustion chamber for the purpose of maximizing fuel efficiency. Production of the sensors involves three stages:

  • Electronic module assembly.

  • Plug-in sensor assembly.

  • Programming.

The challenge comes at the end of stage two when the plug-in sensor's silicone encapsulation is cured in an oven. The plug-in sensor exits the oven at 121oF (49oC) and must be cooled to room temperature before programming can begin.

Initially, Garvin managed the cooling process by offloading the parts after the second stage and allowing them to cool naturally. After the parts cooled for 30 min, they were loaded onto the third stage to complete the assembly process.

Garvin worked with his local MovinCool distributor to test out a portable spot-cooling unit, the Classic Plus 26 -- a two-ton model that provides up to 26,000 BTU/hr, has a digital temperature control and costs as little as $0.10/hr to run. The unit does not require installation and simply can be rolled in, plugged in and turned on.

The Classic Plus 26 was leased to AUTECS for customized trials. For optimum efficiency, Garvin built a duct system using a Lexan tunnel above the conveyer belt to maximize the cold airflow over the plug-in sensors. By the time the plug-in sensors traveled to stage three, 15 to 20 seconds after the spot-cooling process, they were below room temperature and ready for programming.

Most MovinCool distributors offer free demonstrations and apply rental charges to the unit's purchase price, making the testing process a relatively risk-free option for plants in need of a solution.

Industry Needs

Heat is a problem on many production lines though the scenarios are as varied as the processes themselves. Molding, welding, casting, coating: They all create their own heat-related challenges, and MovinCool hears about all of them.

"Each industry is unique and every call is different," explains John Doran, manager of Denso's MovinCool department, whose staff often speaks directly with plant managers and engineers looking for a solution. "The challenges of one plant or industry may not seem relevant to another, but when you explain the various ways spot-cooling units are used, an engineer can see the connection and set up a similar method of testing," he says.

One large packaging company, for instance, uses MovinCool portable air conditioning units to cool the preapplied hot-melt adhesive -- which is used on cardboard ice cream packaging to glue the ends together -- before the packages can be stacked and sent to customers. This cooling process enables the plant manager to cut production time considerably.

Because the needs vary significantly from plant to plant, testing is critical. Therefore, MovinCool allows companies to rent the spot-cooling units for customized trials as in the case with AUTECS.

"A spot-cooling solution cannot be calculated with a pencil. The engineer needs to test and modify the system to address his or her specific challenges," says Doran.

Denso, MovinCool's parent company, developed portable cooling systems to meet the company's own automotive factory needs in Japan.

"The amount of benefit spot-cooling can offer a plant will vary from company to company," notes Doran. "But, whether cooldown time is reduced by 10 percent or 90 percent, that can add up to significant savings in time and money."

MovinCool, Denso Sales California Inc., Long Beach, Calif., manufactures portable spot coolers, air-cooling and air-conditioning systems, and chillers. For more information from MovinCool, call (800) 264-9573 or visit link below.