How It's Made - Bowling Lane Conditioners

in the early days of bowling shellac

based conditioners were applied to

wooden lanes to protect the surface

today robotic machines apply

conditioners in different patterns -

mainly synthetic lanes easier ones for

the average bowler and more challenging

ones for tournament players at most

bowling alleys Lane cleaning and

conditioning are done automatically by

roaming robots they apply different

conditioners in specific patterns the

pattern selections are made by league

organizers it's all about ensuring

consistent scoring computerized tools

with different bits produce many of the

robots parts here they carve a block of

aluminum into a mounting part for a

handle this is the blank before and


an employee assembles two of the

mounting parts to the handle he secures

them with heavy-duty bolts ensuring that

these pressure points will hold up to

the job of lifting the 370 pound robotic


he attaches one handle to each of the

two side panels he installs a sprocket

sensor system on one of the side panels

this bracket sensor will detect where

the robot is and communicate that

information to its computer he links it

to the front wheel with a second

sprocket chain and closes the loop with

the master link he now lowers the oil

buffer brush assembly into the machine

he inserts the main drive motor and then

secures it to an aluminum partition with

a shaft protruding through the other


he then wraps the drive chain around the

sprockets of the shaft he loops a rubber

belt in front of the buffer brush and

connects it to the oil applicator the

applicator will slide on the belt

dispensing small amounts of conditioner

he installs whisker sensors to the front

on each side

when these whiskers brush the sides of

the lane they'll send a signal to the

computer which will then direct the

robot to move more to the center the

conditioning solution tanks have been

equipped with metering pumps and

pressure gauges he bolts the assembly to

the rear wall of the machine he pops in

the rechargeable battery and connects it

to the motor the machine is ready for

the computerized system that runs it

this system includes the control panel

he installs it in the center of the

machine just above the battery he then

runs the hose from the conditioning tank

over to the applicator and connects it

moving to the front another employee

unwinds fabric from one roller and

attaches the end to the next this is

part of the cleaning system the cloth

will scrub the bowling lane after the

robot sprays a cleaning solution onto it

a suctioning squeegee will vacuum up

dirt and leftover cleaner and deposit

them in this recovery tank

he then plugs the wiring harness into

the computer at the back of the control

panel it's time for a dry run with no

cleaner or conditioner in the system yet

the technician powers up the robot and

puts it through its paces he confirms

that every part is in good working order

he adds cleaning solution to the tank

and it's time to prepare the lane

conditioners they mix the mineral oil

based conditioners in big blenders there

are nine different recipes with up to 16

ingredients in each one

they test each mixture extensively they

measure the viscosity because it can

affect how the conditioner flows on the

lane and they evaluate the surface

tension that's its ability to bond to

the lane with the conditioners approved

it's time to test the robot in special

quality control lanes during 50 trips

down the lanes a technician evaluates

the robots performance he inspects it's

turning radius and the effectiveness of

the sensors

he also scrutinizes the cleaning and

conditioning job satisfied that the

conditioning robot works well on its own

he approves it for shipping this bowling

lane conditioner should be a real

game-changer and ensure that the path to

victory is a well-oiled one