Increasing sales and revenues is a challenge for every manufacturer. To achieve their goals, manufacturers need to refine their production workflows to meet the increasing quantifies or products they’re required to produce. They also need to look for ways to increase efficiency and productivity.
With industrial ovens being critical to many production operations, today’s manufacturers can’t afford to have problems with an oven—not if they want to maintain efficiency and productivity. So, if your oven is no longer working out for you, you may need to buy another one. The question is: Do you buy a standard, off-the-shelf industrial oven or a custom designed one?
That depends. Both types have their advantages. Often, a standard industrial oven does the trick. But there are times when a standard oven needs some tweaking. Or, you need to buy a custom industrial oven produced specifically for your application, part size, uniformity requirement, and process.
Advantages of Custom Industrial Ovens
Many industrial oven manufacturers offer custom industrial oven models. These manufacturers will work closely with you to generate an oven to meet the unique application, process, size, and configuration you need. Some oven manufacturers will produce an oven for a first-of-its-kind process if there’s a chance for repeat business. The key here is getting an oven that fits your exact needs.
Manufacturers can provide the temperature uniformity your application requires in a custom-designed oven. That’s critical in many applications. Temperature uniformities of +/- 10F, and +/-5F, and even tighter tolerances are achievable by manufacturers. Plus, manufacturers will provide the oven features and options you need. The two most significant downsides of custom-designed ovens are their high cost and their longer lead times.
Advantages of Standard Industrial Ovens
Purchasing a standard industrial oven from a manufacturer offers numerous benefits —including performance, uniformity at a lower cost, and shorter lead and delivery times than custom ovens. If time and cost are factors, this is the strategy to adopt. Savvy customers often purchase a larger size custom oven to allow for growth. Put simply, standard ovens have a shorter lead time and reduced cost and come with many features to fit standard applications.
Manufacturers offer standard industrial ovens in many sizes with multiple options available upon request. So, availability is not a problem. Standard industrial ovens are available for various applications, from aging, annealing, and baking to drying, curing and preheating, and everything in between. Manufacturers can also modify standard industrial ovens to fit your needs—an option that customers sometimes overlook. Keep in mind that manufacturers produce standard industrial ovens to exceed process requirements anyway.
Essential Factors When Buying Industrial Ovens
Regardless of the type of oven you decide on, it will have to deliver the uniform and repeatable thermal processing required in your application. Some basic issues to consider when buying an industrial oven include:
- Quantity of material to be processed
- Uniformity, size, and shape of the products
- Permissible temperature tolerance
- Batch or continuous in-line processing
The method of heat transfer is another critical issue that factors in when buying an industrial oven. Heat transfer methods include natural convection, forced convection, or radiant heat sources.
The natural convection method of heating can be fast but may not be as uniform as forced convection. These methods are flexible, easily controllable, and can work well for odd shapes. Radiant heat transfer is faster at higher temperatures and initially less expensive but is not as flexible as convection and must be tailored specifically to the product.
Batch-type ovens are generally available as cabinet-style or truck-loaded types. The size can range from small benchtop units to large industrial installations with thousands of cubic feet. Bench-mounted or small cabinet-style ovens are most often used for laboratory applications, such as sterilizing, curing, drying, and other general laboratory activities. With continuous ovens, you need to consider the means of conveyance, air distribution techniques, and product loading methods.
Buying Standard is Generally the Best Strategy
Buying standard industrial ovens is generally more cost-effective and faster than buying a custom one. You can always modify a standard oven to fit your needs. But sometimes you really need a custom-designed unit. That provides several new issues you’ll need to address that you won’t need to deal with if you buy standard.
If you opt for a custom-designed unit, you’ll need to work closely with the manufacturers to ensure you get the right oven. Also, many ovens are unique. So even though a manufacturer has built countless custom industrial ovens, you may need to prove the oven will work before it’s built. In short, opt for a standard unit whenever you can and a custom-designed one only when you must.
Finding the right industrial oven for your needs—whether customer or standard—will you maintain the kind of efficiency and productivity you need to increase revenues and sale as your business grows.