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Test every fan – the Reitz Way

I recently visited the large final assembly plant of GE Aviation in Durham, North Carolina, where my younger son is on a team that builds jet engines. What impressed me most in this immaculate facility was a large banner hung from the ceiling that proclaimed: “We will not ship until it’s ready.”

Like GE, we take the fabrication of fans and blowers very seriously at Reitz. Like GE’s amazing jet engines, our fans are also a form of rotating machinery that must operate literally for decades efficiently and safely. It is not unusual to see a Reitz fan in continuous 24/7/365 operation for two decades or more, and often in hot, corrosive or erosive environments. Imagine running your washing machine or dryer at home for 20 years, under a heavy load, without stopping – that’s what we must assume will be done with our products at Reitz.

How is this amazing feat achieved?  The efficiency and longevity of Reitz products is a combination of many factors really – excellent engineering, superior materials and components, expert fabrication skills, and frequent inspection and testing during the build process, what QA experts call ‘Quality Gates’. 

The last step before we ship a product is final inspection, test and packing. Final inspection starts with a thorough comparison of component dimensions compared to design dimensions. Since much of this is guaranteed by the use of modern CAD tools linked to our laser cutting machinery, dimensional issues have become rare – things are designed to fit, and nearly always do, the first time. We also make final inspections of welds and other details. Since all our welders are certified against US (AWS) and increasingly European (EN) standards, weld quality is generally excellent.

Following assembly, our fans are tested at full power in our facility. We’re looking for smooth operation, determined using sensitive vibration instruments at key locations such as motor mounts, bearings and shaft couplers. Temperatures are also measured in some cases, using modern infrared IR laser digital thermometers. Finally, our fans are carefully packed and attached to sturdy wooden pallets or crated, depending on the size of the system and its destination.

That’s how we test every fan – the Reitz Way, assuring that no product will be shipped until it meets our high standards and is ready for years of reliable service to our customers.

Since most Reitz fans these days are directly-driven, that is, without the added weight, cost, maintenance and complexity of belt drives, it is important to test them with VFDs, Variable Frequency Drives.  This allows our technicians to simulate most power supplies around the world, which vary both by frequency (60 Hz in the US, 50 Hz in Europe, etc) and voltage.
Our modern VFD systems even allow us to simulate power changes during testing, as many of our fans are modulated during operation – their power is varied depending on demand, which can fluctuate over a wide range. While testing of a fan alone is not the same as in actual operation, it does provide a good baseline of information and assurance that the unit will perform well in real-world environments.

 

Kent Misegades, Vice President, Reitz Fan & Blower Inc., Aberdeen, NC

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