Rod Anthony is the president of Anthony Screw Products Ltd., Burlington, Ontario, Canada. He has more than 25 years of experience working in every position in his plant’s manufacturing process. He knew recycling was important to the environment, but had never considered it from the standpoint of efficiency and cost savings. “Now I realize it should be one of the first pieces of equipment you look at to solve problems in those areas,” Anthony said. “It just makes complete sense.”
Anthony came to this realization after partnering with PRAB, Kalamazoo, Mich., a supplier of scrap and fluid handling equipment for the metalworking industry. Anthony Screw Products installed a new PRAB chip processing and fluid recovery system at its plant. Costs associated with metal scrap and coolant were a major concern before Anthony received the new system. Now he has a new appreciation for the value of recycling—specifically, over $212,000 a year in oil savings.
Anthony Screw Products is a precision machining company that produces a wide range of custom parts, including fittings, washers, nuts, bolts and pulley hubs. Founded in 1978, the privately owned, family-run business started with a 5,000-sq-ft workspace that housed two multi-spindle automatics. Today, the company’s facility is more than four times the size of the original location and runs nearly 10 times as many multi-spindles, plus CNC lathes and mills and rotary transfer machines.
When it became necessary to move to a new building as a result of this expansion, Anthony decided to re-evaluate the company’s chip processing and fluid recovery system. Another company made the small chip spinner that Anthony Screw Products had used for 12 years. It stood vertically on a ball joint and springs, which required annual replacement. Also, due to the equipment’s orientation, the spinner relied on gravity to recover oil from the chips and feed scrap bins. There were several reasons why this process was not ideal:
- Nearly 50 percent of the oil in the chips was not being recovered.
- At best, the plant was only getting a 10 percent return on reclaimed oil.
- The chips were not bringing maximum value from the company’s scrap dealer because they were so heavily coated in oil.
- Gravity-feeding the bins required several extra dumpers, which took up valuable floor space.
- Dumping the chips into an outside bin was an expensive, messy daily process.
Anthony decided to replace the old spinner because of the excessive maintenance, lost value from materials, and general housekeeping issues, which were especially unacceptable for a company that takes pride in maintaining a clean, efficient and well-organized plant. In addition, the operation did not have a shredder and there was no possibility of adding one. To replace the old spinner, Anthony wanted a new system that could reduce the size of steel turnings, reclaim the excessive amount of lost residual cutting oil, and discharge the processed chips into a covered, roll-off container.
Anthony began the process of finding a new solution by soliciting opinions on chip spinners from his customers. His research made it clear that a complete automated chip processing system from PRAB was the right one for his business.
PRAB proposed a system that included a high-level automatic cart dumper feeding long, stringy turnings into a vertical axis crusher to reduce them to flowable chips. The next step involved a steel-belt wringer feed conveyor collecting crushed chips and elevating them to a tramp metal separator for removal of accidentally ingested solids. Then, a diagonal shaft chip wringer would use more than 600 Gs of centrifugal force to separate oil from the chips before pneumatically discharging the dried scrap into a covered, roll-off container.
At the end of the process, a settling tank would capture reclaimed fluid and transfer it to a holding tank or a separate filtration system, while a re-circulating drag conveyor would return fines to the chip flow to help keep the tank clean. The proposal also included options for loading a second container and filtering the reclaimed oil prior to transferring it to a tote holding 1,100 L of cutting oil. The shop purchases the tote, then the tote and the oil it contains are removed from the shop premises by a disposal service.
Less than a week after Anthony approved the equipment, the PRAB team had it in place. He began seeing a return on investment quickly and remains pleasantly surprised nearly a year after the system’s full implementation.
With the previous equipment, “in six weeks, I had to buy 12 totes worth $27,000,” Anthony said. “Now, in the same six weeks, I buy one tote worth $2,250. That is a savings of 11 totes, or $24,750 in six weeks alone. Over $212,000 a year in oil savings. I am in shock along with everyone else in my plant.”
Extracting more oil from the chips is also bringing added value from Rod’s scrap dealer. “On average, he is giving me an additional 15 percent in value for dry chips instead of wet chips. That adds to up roughly $24,000 to $28,000 per year.”
With the PRAB system in place, ineffective chip processing and fluid recovery no longer represent a financial liability for Anthony Screw Products. The system has also eliminated several other issues, including wasted floor space because of so many totes in the plant, housekeeping hazards caused by oil on the floor and constant equipment maintenance.
“Before the new system, I was gravity-draining the chips, and we had a lot of extra dumpers hanging around taking up space—at least a total of 70 dumpers instead of 30 today,” Anthony said. “Plus, we had to dump the chips daily into an open bin outside. The handling of the chips was costly and making a mess. With fewer bins sitting around, customers always comment about how clean our operation is.”
Anthony added that compared to replacing the spinner’s ball joint and springs every year, the PRAB solution is virtually maintenance free—an added plus from implementing a modern scrap metal and spent fluids recycling solution.
For more information from PRAB, go to www.prab.com or phone 800-968-7722.