Using Coolant Effectively
Today’s metalworking fluids have been formulated to last longer than ever before. They can come with a variety of additives that offer benefits customized for specific applications. The days of a “one size fits all” are mostly past. The flip side of that is that fluids come with a considerably higher price tag than they did just a few years ago.
Because cost management is key to making a profit, every expenditure needs to be evaluated. Proper fluid management is no different. A structured fluid management program will need some investment in time, process, and perhaps an initial investment in equipment, but it is the best way to ensure that profit is maximized. Monitoring, cleaning, and recycling fluids will equate to purchasing less concentrate, increasing the life of coolant in the sumps, increasing the life of tools and sumps, and saving money on disposal.
Recycling is the best way to operate efficiently and affordably. A well-managed program can reduce costs by 40-60%.
Begin by Concentrating
Concentration control is key to having your fluids (and your machines) work at their optimum levels. The best place to start is at the concentration levels the fluid manufacturer recommends if you’re doing it on your own, or have a distributor or manufacturers rep come in and set it for you. Once that is complete, check the concentration using an optical or digital refractometer on a set schedule.
Fluid levels will drop over the course of a shift, day, or week, and some operators add water to increase the volume. This eventually leans the concentration. Then other operators add pure, unmixed coolant, which leads to increased residue and can affect the fluids ability to cool. So make sure that the operators know the proper concentration and how to properly add it.
Mix It Up
Always add the concentrate to the water to get the proper emulsion. If you add the water to the concentrate, you could get a reverse oil-in-water emulsion. A helpful tip is think O-I-L for oil in last. Oil refers to the coolant concentrate.
Hand mixing can work, but it can be time-consuming to achieve the proper concentration. A mechanical mixer can combine coolant with the water to accurately achieve the set levels. After it is mixed, the new or recycled fluid should be stored in a clean tank or put directly into the machine. Concentration and appearance should be checked and adjusted if needed before returning the coolant to the working system.
Practice Good Housekeeping
Filtration and a clean machine are important to maintaining optimal efficiency. A shop vac and shovel can be used to remove the all of the accumulation from the bottom of the sump tank. A thorough cleaning job involves pulling the sump out and removing all the waste.
Also, a sump sucker that pumps out the individual sump and has a filter basket for filtering solids or the conveyor and drag bars that clean a central system can clean the machine faster and take the dirty job off the hands of the operator.
It is best to try and minimize the amount of fluids that you need to have disposed. Haul-away costs can be very expensive and the fluids must be properly handled by the disposal company or the generator of the waste can be held responsible—even years later. So reducing quantities of spent fluids by cleaning and recycling also reduces liability.
It can cost more money to dispose of the fluids than to buy them. Up to 95 percent of what will be carried away for disposal is water. Some people try to treat them so they can go down the drain, but this is very difficult to do properly because they have so many chemicals, biologicals, and metal in them. Evaporation is the only thing that consistently works. You can cook it and reduce the volume, but you still have some waste to get rid of. Even biodegradable fluids, once used, should not go in the sewer or dumped into the environment, no matter what it says on the drum.
Recycle Wherever Possible
Disposal volume with a recycling program can reduce disposal volumes from 50 to 80 percent for most plants depending on four action items:
- Begin with stable, bioresistant fluids that can withstand repeated recycling.
- Establish and actively supervise a recycling program.
- Purchase properly designed and sized recycling equipment.
- Control the mechanisms that cause coolants to fail.
There are three basic types of recycling systems. Each of them can save money on fluid usage, disposal costs, and machine maintenance. The basic recycling system types include:
- Those dedicated to maintaining the fluid in a central system.
- Those that recycle batches of fluid that is periodically transported to the recycling system and then back to the machines as makeup coolant.
- Hybrids that recycle coolant for one or more pieces of equipment and also process batches of coolant from other sources.
Martin Supply can recommend which system can be most effective and cost-efficient based on the needs of an individual facility. To learn more about how we help companies operate better, contact us today to have someone come take a look at your coolant needs.
Martin Corporate Headquarters
125 North Court Street
Florence, AL 35630
P: (800) 828-8116