Automation Assists Waste Stream Processing: Reduce Labor and Material Costs

Amid a forecast of a potential recession, metalworking companies face challenges related to workforce and resource shortages. With these hurdles in mind, creating operational efficiencies and lowering recurring expenses become crucial considerations.

Automating existing waste stream processes can reduce labor costs and the volume of waste that needs to be hauled away. This lowers the carbon impact, mitigates the risk of environmental contamination, and makes for more effective scrap and fluid management.

With that in mind, here are three processes that metalworking operations can automate to position their company for lower costs ahead of an economic downturn.

1. Automate Material Transfer.
The buildup of metal scrap on the shop floor not only creates a cluttered, hazardous space, it compromises your opportunity to get the most value from the scrap. Furthermore, running forklifts or manually shoveling the scrap is inefficient and dangerous. By automating the transfer of metal scrap away from work zones and into load-out areas, conveyors reduce labor costs, lessen downtime, and establish an effective way to process scrap on-site, haul it away, or be re-melted:

  • Steel Belt Conveyors can transfer a wide range of materials from bushy material and die scrap, to chips and turnings. This versatility makes them a viable choice for several metalworking applications including machining, die casting, stamping, forging, scrap yards, and finished parts.
  • Oscillating Scrap Conveyors move hot, dry, or wet abrasive metal scrap, and finished parts across horizontal distances. An economical choice for operations both big and small, these units can be built for machine-side or in-pit operation.
  • Drag Chain Conveyors are perfect for machining operations and scrap yards thanks to their rugged, chain-driven design. A liquid-tight construction also helps these units maintain a clean workspace.

2. Manage Metal Scrap and Collect Fluids.
There are many systems that process metalworking scrap for volume reduction and maximum value:

  • Briquetters compress bulk waste material, namely metal scraps, loose turnings, and swarf, into dry briquettes. These near-solid pucks significantly reduce metal scrap volume and can garner more value from recyclers. The pucks are also easy to collect, store, and re-melt. Additionally, the compression process allows for valuable cutting fluids to be easily collected.
  • Crusher/Wringer Chip Processing Systems deliver dry, shovel-grade chips and reclaim valuable coolants and cutting oils. These systems are particularly effective at reducing high volumes of large bundles and stringy turnings.
  • Shredder/Wringer Chip Processing Systems also couple chip volume reduction with fluid separation. The ability to process loose metal turnings makes these systems ideal for scrap metal that consists of flowable chips.

These systems are comprised of several key components:

  • Vertical Axis Crushers provide continuous operation for high-volume scrap reduction, while They are highly effective for creating small, flowable chips from large wads of turnings that can be processed further downstream or stored and hauled away.
  • Metal Turnings Shredders reliably process light to moderate wads of metal turnings into flowable, shovel-grade chips.
  • Wringers/Centrifuges spin cutting fluid from metal chips using centrifugal force. In addition to reclaiming spent fluid to be reused or recycled, these units produce dry chips that are more valuable to scrap dealers.

3. Recycle Fluids.
Effective fluid recycling depends largely on the volume and fluid type, but a centralized fluid recycling system can recycle coolant and reduce fluid waste up to 90%. A versatile system designed to remove tramp oils and suspended solids from metalworking fluids (MWFs) significantly streamlines MWF housekeeping efforts, extends the life of fluids, reduces hazardous waste disposal costs, and saves operations up to 75% on new fluid purchases.

Centralized fluid recycling systems with automated coolant concentration adjustment and coolant control require little operator involvement, thus reducing labor costs and minimizing employee exposure to bacteria that can lead to health problems.

While upgrading discrete pieces of metal scrap processing equipment will benefit almost any operation, companies that take a more holistic view of their waste streams and plan end-to-end, automated processing improvements position themselves for maximum savings over the long term.

For more information about how to lower your metalworking operation’s waste stream costs through automation, visit

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