Sam Turnbull, CEO of Flipscreen and award-winning inventor, is truly passionate about engineering and innovation. Sam invented the Flipscreen screening bucket and has since worked to constantly improve the mechanics to set it apart from their competition.
With such innovation comes opportunity, which is exactly what the company was given when they were asked to innovate something unique for the Japanese market. This project became the EX85 DD (Direct Drive) screening bucket.
In the beginning, Sam was presented with a brief on all the attributes needed for the purpose of the screening bucket, as well as a list of things they did not want. This list included:
Of course, manufacturing the EX85 was no easy feat and one that Sam had to draw on his passions of innovation to complete. Sam spoke to Machines4U about the process of how he took the screening bucket and met each of the Japanese market’s requests.
Generally, the way of dealing with greasing is to incorporate a central greasing system which constantly supplies the exact amount of grease to the bushings on the bucket. However, Sam and his team decided not to go down this conventional path, “We thought, why not make a bush which never needs greasing? So, we scoured the world and discovered the Chromium/Stainless Steel bushings.”
“They may be a lot more expensive in the first instance of manufacturing, but when you stand in front of an equipment owner and tell him that his operators never have to grease the implement, you make a friend for life,” says Sam.
Moving away from the traditional chain drives wasn’t as simple as improving the greasing of the machine. Instead this meant reconfiguring the entire machine. Sam says a lot of research went into this aspect of the EX85 development, “The research was done into two-speed bent axis driven planetaries. Trips were made to Korea where the best of these are made to configure the exact spec for the extreme conditions experienced on the end of an excavator’s arm.”
“Each drive can take the weight of the carrier machine several times over and they put out 23,000 newton meters of torque; that’s the torque of 35 F250 super duty truck motors,” Sam said.
Another area that the Flipscreen team looked at was how to reduce fouling when screening mud in wet conditions. The team eventually came up with an idea which involved removing the internal ribbing and replacing it with sweeping radiuses.
Sam says this was a successful improvement and meant they reduced mud sticking to the bucket during operation. “This way the metal being contacted was also the structure without the extra framework. The other way we reduced sticking was to introduce hopper liners. This stuff is like the best non-stick frypan you have ever seen, but also has better wearing characteristics than most metal.”
When it came to noise reduction, the hopper lines were also a great breakthrough for the Flipscreen team. Sam says they were instrumental in lowering the noise of the material being screened.
“The hopper liners were a great breakthrough in noise reduction, especially since concrete and rocks impacting special molecularly designed polyethylene makes about a tenth of the noise of hitting high tensile steel. The material also acts as a damper, like acoustic foam it robs all surrounding areas of the ability to achieve harmonic vibration effectively cancelling sound.”
Reducing the sound that came from the ratchet mechanism allowed Flipscreen to set themselves apart from their competition.
Sam says the change was quite the process, “we had to incorporate an external hydraulic cylinder into the ratchet system to totally silence this unit. However, we didn’t want any hoses because they would get damaged; yes, that’s right we wanted a hydraulic cylinder without hoses. So, the cylinder rod locates into the sidearm with the base pointing out to the ratchet; the rod has internal veins ported through its centre allowing for both hydraulic lines to be inside the rod. Therefore, a cylinder without hoses; simple.”
Another request Flipscreen had to innovate was including their proprietary smart valve into the design. This wasn’t exactly a straightforward job as Sam suggests:
“Flipscreen’s proprietary smart valve was a must but really didn’t fit into the new design which was way more compact than previous models. To get around this, we made the smart valve manifold cylindrical, thus setting it perfectly into the top of a sidearm with lots of space to work on valves and fittings.”
Flipscreen’s smart valve allows for any hydraulic flow and pressure without modification of the carrier. This is a revolution in hydraulic attachments.
In order to fit the EX85 to a greater range of excavator sizes, Flipscreen had to reevaluate the weight of the machine. On the redesign Sam says, “So, to be able to reduce weight you must rethink the way you design, you can’t just add steel to make things stronger. It may not seem so, but steel is flexible.”
“With this in mind, we successfully incorporated flex points under the main drive arms and a leaf spring effect on the hitch plate. Together, these work like a big shock absorber. These design features have allowed us to remove unnecessary metal and put the steel where it is needed, therefore reducing the weight of the EX85 by 356KG compared to its predecessor.”
The whole project encompasses machinery innovation at its best and shows how Flipscreen is moving forward in the industry. Sam is very proud of the project and says:
“The most exciting part of this whole process for me is not just knowing that you have created something unique and the best in the world, but the response we get from our customers. How much they enjoy the strength and durability of their new purchase and how much they smile when you tell them” don’t service it, just use it”.