Marlin Steel often gets contacted by customers who already have a custom basket solution, but need an improved model that addresses specific problems. On one recent order, an automotive parts manufacturer needed new baskets to replace their plastic vacuum-formed trays.
The older plastic trays were causing contamination and debris issues for their pulley balancer parts. So, they needed a new type of basket, one that wouldn’t come apart when being passed through a Dunnage washer and the subsequent 3-mile, 1-day trip to the installation facility for final engine assembly.
This particular job had a lot of challenges and requirements. Here are a few of the specific challenges, and how Marlin addressed them.
Capacity, Weight, and Space Requirements
Each of these custom baskets needed to be able to hold no less than six pulley balancers per load. At 3 pounds per part, this meant each basket needed to be able to securely hold 18 pounds of weight.
Additionally, each part was 5.84” wide and 1.9685” deep. Because the Dunnage washer’s opening was 18” wide, the parts washing basket couldn’t be any wider than that.
Meeting the space and capacity requirements was easy. By designing each basket to hold two rows of three pulley balancers, Marlin’s engineers made a basket that was 14” wide and 10” deep, well within the space requirement while still giving each part at least 1.69” of dead space to keep parts from touching each other. Doing so reduces the risk of damage from colliding parts.
To ensure that the basket was strong enough to carry its full 18-pound load without risking any stress deformation, Marlin’s engineers designed the basket with 0.25” thick, grade 304 stainless steel for the frame of the basket, while the interior wires were made from 0.121” thick 304 stainless.
The thickness of the steel wires helped ensure that the basket was more than strong enough to take the load.
Saving Storage Space
Because the parts had to be transported roughly 3 miles to a separate facility for installation, it was important for the baskets to take up as little space as possible when stored.
Marlin overcame this challenge by using a stacking basket design that would allow fully-loaded baskets to be stacked on top of one another neatly. This reduced the space used by loaded baskets, making transporting large numbers of parts easier.
Making Baskets Easy to Handle
For this job, it was important for the baskets to be easy to handle by hand for workers wearing large, bulky gloves.
So, in addition to making the frame out of quarter-inch thick wires, Marlin’s engineers added large handles to the basket’s design. These handles not only make the basket easy to grab while wearing thick gloves, they act as a guide to hold a stack of baskets steady.
Prepping for Unknown Wash Conditions
Although the client was using a Dunnage washing machine, the specific chemicals and temperatures that would be used in the final process were not disclosed to Marlin’s engineers.
So, to create a basket that could easily survive almost any wash cycle, Marlin’s engineers decided to use grade 304 stainless steel. This material choice was highly durable, resistant to corrosion, and cost-effective for the application. All without coming to pieces like a plastic container and contaminating the parts being washed and transported.
The end result of the design engineer’s work was a compact, sturdy basket that could take the auto manufacturer’s process demands for years of use without contributing to part contamination.
It’s all just part of creating the perfect custom parts washing/handling basket to meet the needs of Marlin’s clients.