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Productivity and Cost Improvement Through Metal Scrap & Fluid Management

Productivity improvements in today’s manufacturing plants and machine shops are typically derived from the evaluation of the machining equipment, operating procedures, and labor allocations associated with process-side activity. Often the metalworking waste streams; consisting of metal and cutting fluids are overlooked as a place for productivity improvements due to an assumption that a collect-and-dump approach is the most cost-effective method of scrap and fluid management.

We challenge this industry assumption of limited gains and payback. Using the proper techniques shows quantifiable gains when evaluating the metalworking by-product and how to turn it into an environmental and economic benefit through a Continuous Improvement Process (CIP) to manage the waste stream.

The Continuous Improvement Process

CIP as a Continuous Improvement Process can also be used as an acronym for:

  • Collect or Convey
  • Improve Condition
  • Process or Reclaim

Each of the CIP elements is an investment, but the investment far outweighs the risk of not implementing such processes. Examples of shops working to minimize risk, increase the value of scrap while reducing fluid costs, and realize operational improvements will be used to highlight the importance of CIP implementation.

Examples of how a metalworking company can set and achieve productivity improvements using a CIP process for scrap and fluid management are:

C- Collect or Convey

  • Using selected collection and transfer technology (based on scrap type and configuration) to capture the chips and coolant at the point of generation.
  • Manually handling scrap material takes time and costs money. In addition, the manual transfer of scrap and fluids directly contributes to shop floor spills and increases the potential for worker injury, especially with the use of chip carts or self-dumping hoppers.
  • Incorporating a complete scrap waste processing system approach means chips are mechanically or pneumatically transferred away from the machines through negative or positive displacement Blower Systems
  • Safely collecting coolant for recycle and reuse.

I – Improving Condition

Scrap metal conditioning methods take material that is bushy, nested, or tangled and turn it into material that is flow-able or shovel grade. Simply reducing volume of metal scrap is the first step in improving the value of scrap and realizing cost savings. For example, a typical Crusher or Shredder System reduces material volume by 7 to 1.

Benefits of Volume Reduction Include:

  • Smaller scrap containers
  • Consistent chip profile
  • Conditioned for further processing
  • Commands a higher scrap value
  • Less transportation cost

P – Process & Fluid Recovery
Solid/Liquid Separation

  • The first method of separation is by spinning the chips in wringer equipment, which removes the coolant from the chips by centrifugal force and collects the fluid into a containment pan. At a certain level within the pan a pump will transfer the contaminated fluid to a fluid recycling center.
  • The second method of extracting fluid from chips is Briquetting (making a puck). Unlike the wringer which uses centrifugal force to extract the fluid, the Briquetter presses the material in a die using hydraulic pressure. The fluid is pressed to the outside and away from the puck’s surface. The pucks exit the machine and onto a conveyor while the fluid is transferred under the machine into a fluid recovery pan.

The Growing Importance of Effective Coolant Management

Machining companies can no longer ignore the back end of their process and expect to maintain the high speed and high quality demanded by their customers in Aerospace, Automotive, and other industrial markets. The expectation of reliable, consistent, and timely delivery of parts and sub-components is critical for any supplier. But, technology and automation related to coolant management as well as adjusting current coolant management practices can dramatically improve operations- reducing operating costs, enhancing tool life and improving output quality.

For information on how a PRAB system could help you with your water or wastewater management processes contact us today.