A flooring manufacturer faced long-lead times coupled with no-crush wheel failure rates and downtime. The manufacturer called Urethane Innovators for help.

The Company

A multi-billion-dollar global building products manufacturing company with VERY expensive production equipment that, if not functioning, would bring the operation to a standstill.

The Challenge

The challenge was two-fold. Very expensive and precise engineered flooring production equipment was burning through no-crush wheels. These wheels were critical for moving the flooring through the multi-process production line. When the wheels failed, production stopped, finished product was damaged, and potential worker safety issues arose.

Replacement no-crush wheels were manufactured in Europe. This led to very long lead times, inconsistent durability, a high frequency of failure, and required a precision tooled hub/shaft connection point that needed to meet/exceed very tight tolerances.

UI personnel made on-site technical visits to observe the production process – specifically where the no-crush wheel interacted with the flooring on the production line. We also inspected their failed wheels.

The Solution

Create a new master spec for the no-crush wheel, plus an aggressive custom-built supply chain program. The new master spec included:
Wheel example

  • Improving urethane compound formulation to account for production heat and friction, as well as a full analysis of the how the flooring affected the no-crush wheel at point of contact.
  • Increasing the number of wheel vanes and providing a polyurethane compound of higher durometer to create a more durable wheel that allowed for more down pressure on the board – resulting in more consistent contact.
  • Agreeing to manufacture the metal hub / shaft connection point in-house at UI in order to ensure consistent quality and tolerances.
  • Keeping the no-crush wheel dimensions as is.
  • Designing a rolling inventory hold-and-delivery release program that decreased wheel acquisition lead time (including transport) from 8-10 weeks to 3 business days.

With these changes, the manufacturer has significantly reduced downtime, costs and safety issues. The company now receives replacement wheels in a timely manner, with the metal hub/shaft meeting the tight tolerances.

Mike Dolan

Mike Dolan is UI’s VP of Sales & Business Development.