Shop adds automated peening to its skills list

Skills Inc.’s Auburn, Wash., facility boasts many capabilities that are approved and audited by NADCAP (a supplier management and audit system for aerospace industry suppliers). Among those capabilities, the supplier to major aircraft manufacturers has recently added in-line peening, thanks to the installation of a user-friendly automated system.

The system simultaneously peens both sides of in-spar rib components and incorporates in-line peening machines from Wheelabrator. These machines contain non-marking conveyor rolls that transport parts through a blast stream created by an identical arrangement of reciprocating nozzles (4 up-blast, 4 down-blast).

Single- and multiple-axis nozzle manipulation direct the media stream at specific part locations. The Wheelabrator Inline Peening system is ideal for processing conventional aerospace components, such as wing spars, structural members, composite components, as well as non-aerospace parts.

As part of the process at Skills, in-spar rib parts are loaded on an in-feed roll conveyor that carries them through the blast cabinet. As each one is loaded, a barcode reader identifies that part’s peening specifications and reports the process information electronically to a main control system.

Allowing operators to program and store such process techniques is a notable advantage of the automated system. Operators use a touchscreen interface to control media size classification, flow rate, and air pressure to ensure consistent peening results. Detailed diagnostic logic also provides critical feedback when troubleshooting.

This is the second Wheelabrator system at Skills, and both peening systems were designed and built to be compliant with the stringent requirements of NADCAP and other OEM audit systems. This includes automatic monitoring, controlling and reporting of critical process control parameters such as air pressure, media flow, media size and real-time display of the process, all of which contribute to repeatable and consistent peening results.

“Our acquisition of a second peening machine from Wheelabrator has allowed us to expand our capacity and provide redundant processing capability,” stated Skills CEO Todd Dunnington. “The second machine was designed and built to our custom specifications. The build process was completed without a hitch, and the machine was installed and certified in record time.”

He added that peening has become a critical part of the shop’s sales strategy and combines nicely with its NADCAP approved chemical processing capabilities.

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