Accurate Brazing Shares Best Practices for Maintaining Your Vacuum Furnace

We asked Accurate Brazing for their best advice on maintaining heat-treating equipment and minimizing downtime. Their main areas of focus are preventive maintenance, always being prepared and planning future upgrades.

Accurate Brazing vacuum furnace
Image courtesy of Accurate Brazing

Preventive Maintenance Best Practices

While Ipsen offers preventive maintenance (PM) programs for customers without robust internal resources, Accurate Brazing relies on in-house experts for most of their maintenance needs. Lu Chouraki directs their HIP (Hot Isostatic Pressing) services and is Plant Manager for their Garlington Road facility in Greenville, South Carolina. He began working in heat treating at 18 years old and has extensive knowledge of vacuum furnaces and their processes. Twenty years in the industry has taught Chouraki a lot about best practices for minimizing downtime and extending the lifespan of vacuum furnace equipment, one of the most important being regular maintenance.

Accurate Brazing operates nine Ipsen furnaces across two locations in Greenville, SC, and nine more in Goffstown, NH, ranging in age from five to twenty-five years old. Chouraki’s team runs weekly burnouts (cleanup cycles) and leak checks, performs routine maintenance on pumps and regularly inspects the hot zone for broken elements and signs of deterioration.

Although PM programs vary for each application, Ipsen recommends following basic daily, weekly, monthly and semiannual checklists. For heat treaters without in-house experts, or those needing to supplement their existing resources, Ipsen offers a range of aftermarket services as well as training through Ipsen U.

Making the Most of Spare Parts, Upgrades and Retrofits

According to Chouraki, he always keeps spare parts on hand, including extra pumps and at least one full hot zone build—running continuous cycles for commercial heat treating can be very demanding on a furnace’s hot zone. Having replacement parts on-site can make a big difference when trying to minimize lost production time—often meaning the difference between being back up and running within hours instead of days. Accurate Brazing runs two shifts, five days a week with overnight cycles and occasional weekend projects. By working closely with Ipsen’s parts department, they make sure they have the right parts stocked at the right time for minimal disruption to production schedules.

Like many others in the industry, Accurate Brazing has several Ipsen furnaces that have been running for more than a decade. While this speaks to the quality and reliability of the equipment, it is still important to periodically assess the furnace’s components, such as controls and instrumentation, to make sure they have not become obsolete. If an obsolete component breaks, it can take longer to repair or replace. Being aware of the latest technology and planning for upgrades and retrofits can save time and money.

Over the years, Accurate Brazing has used Ipsen’s retrofits team for furnace and electrical refurbishments, controls upgrades, new hot zones, OIT (operator interface terminal) replacement and software updates.

To find out how your organization could benefit from Ipsen’s aftermarket services, contact 1-844-GO-IPSEN today.

About Accurate Brazing

Accurate Brazing specializes in vacuum brazing and heat treating tailored primarily to support the aerospace, additive, and power generation markets. They are adept at heat treating materials that include stainless steel, super alloys, copper, and refractory materials. Accurate Brazing has the unique expertise, capacity and equipment to take new programs and get them into production quickly.