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Recycle, Reclaim, and Take a Deep Breath

Kip Hanson
By Kip Hanson Contributing Editor, SME Media

Learn how to keep your shop floor (and our environment) clean and safe

Suitable for a wide range of machine tools, the Royal Filtermist uses centrifugal impaction to remove the smoke and mist created during machining operations.

Suppliers of cleaning, safety, and environmental equipment are promoting a common message—good housekeeping is not only good for your workforce, it’s also good for the shop’s balance sheet. And perhaps the best way for any manufacturer to practice this is by paying attention to the fluids in its machine tools and the air within its four walls.

Here’s a sampling from four Environmental suppliers that focus on this important need, featuring products that would have been on display in the Machine Components/Cleaning/Environmental pavilion at IMTS.

Giving Employees the Royal Treatment

Let’s start with something that any machine operator can appreciate: clean air. Tom Sheridan, president of Royal Products, Hauppauge, N.Y., noted that the company is featuring the ninth generation of its flagship offering, the Royal Filtermist Mist Collector. The new Filtermist FX-Series is “the product of extensive computer-aided modeling and laboratory testing,” he said, “with a compact design, an energy-efficient IE3 three-phase motor, and an optimized housing for maximum air filtration.”

Sheridan explained that the Royal Filtermist uses centrifugal impaction to remove the smoke and mist created during machining operations. It is available in four sizes ranging from 300 to 1200 cfm, is suitable for oil- and water-based cutting fluids, and can be mounted directly to the top of a machine tool, on a nearby stand, or suspended from the ceiling. This makes it a good solution for CNC lathes, machining centers, and Swiss-style screw machines, but is particularly effective on cylindrical and centerless grinders, where the combination of mist and dust can be difficult to manage.

“Grinding operations generate solid particles that become entrained in the mist stream and must be removed in a certain way,” Sheridan said. “One of the easiest ways to do this is by equipping a Royal Filtermist unit with one of our Cyclonic Separators, allowing any solids to be drawn down and out the bottom of the separator while the mist is carried up into the Filtermist unit. The result is clean air, which is not only important for the health and safety of everyone in the shop, but is also necessary to finding and retaining qualified workers.”

Sump and Safety Solutions

Clean cutting fluid is important. Without it, skin problems like rashes and dermatitis can rear their ugly heads, never mind the impact on tool life and part quality. Fortunately, such problems are easy to avoid—all it takes is a routine maintenance program and the right equipment. Ron Wendt can help with the latter. As the product manager for fluid recycling at Eriez Manufacturing Co., Erie, Pa., he said the company offers a complete line of sump cleaners, portable coalescers, and coolant recycling systems.

The Eriez SumpDoc is said to reduce cutting fluid purchase and disposal costs by up to 60 percent per year.

“Any customer with metalworking fluids, machine tool sumps, quench tanks, and numerous other liquid tanks can benefit from this equipment,” he said. “This includes machine shops, pipe mills, punch press shops, cold headers, fastener makers, automotive, medical device manufacturers, and others.

Eriez customers regularly see 60 percent savings per year on the purchase and disposal costs of metalworking fluids, not including any savings associated with machine cleaning labor, increased machine production time, and extended tooling life.”

Eriez also produces electromagnetic feeders, used to meter material, parts, and fasteners from a large storage hopper to a process line. It eliminates the need for continuous small-batch loading by an operator, reducing the ergonomic and repetitive strain issues that might otherwise occur. “Vibratory feeders and conveyors are an important category of material handling equipment,” he added. “They provide efficiency and reliability advantages over other types of material handling equipment, with a low purchase price, reduced energy consumption, simplified maintenance, and thousands of configurations.”

Looking at The Big Picture

Jon Guinn agrees with the need for well-maintained cutting fluids. He is the sales manager for Walpole, Mass.-based Sanborn Technologies, a North American Filtration company and distributor of various cutting fluid filtration systems, centrifuges, and ultrafiltration systems. He suggested the simplest way to achieve this is with a portable sump cleaner—in this case, the Freddy Ecovac, or its counterpart, the Freddy Tramp Oil Separator (TOS).

“One of the unique things about the Freddy Ecovac model is that it allows you to vacuum out the sump and discharge back into the sump at the same time, continuously filtering until the tank is clean,” he said. “So not only does this give you a chance to loosen up the sediment that’s always stuck to the bottom of the sump, but you can also use it to clean out tanks that are much larger than the Ecovac’s 50-gallon capacity. We have seen large companies spend over a million dollars a year just on metalworking fluid, and our ultrafiltration systems not only help customers spend less money on new coolant, but also reduce their industrial wastewater disposal costs.”

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A centralized ultrafiltration system like the one shown here from Sanborn is ideal for larger shops with 30 or more CNC machine tools.

For larger shops (or those with a larger budget), Guinn might recommend the T10 Turbo-Separator, a centralized coolant purification system. “The T10 is a batch processing machine with a three-phase centrifuge,” Guinn said. “This allows you to remove all the solids like the Freddy Ecovac would, but also remove the tramp oil—like the TOS—at the same time. Depending on the size of the machine tools, the number of shifts, and the types of metalworking operations they perform, we figure it takes around 30 machine tools to justify a larger system like this.”

Not Loving that Dirty Water

It’s the water that goes down the drain at the tail end of the manufacturing process that often goes unnoticed, however, and may end up costing a shop dearly. With apologies to the old hit song by The Standells, shops do not love that dirty water. That’s according to Victoria Mathews, customer service manager for Walther Trowal LLC, Grand Rapids, Mich., a manufacturer of mass finishing equipment that also provides the means to keep such operations both cost-effective and safe for the environment. “Most companies are shocked to learn how much money they waste each year by not cleaning and recycling their used process water,” she said.

Walther’s ZA (shown here) and ZM centrifuges use a combination of flocculants and centrifugal force to capture and separate metal fines, grinding grit, and other contaminants from vibratory finishing water.

To avoid the high costs of effluent disposal, she recommends one of two centrifugal filtration systems—the ZM, a manually-operated unit, or its automated counterpart, the ZA. Both use a combination of flocculants and centrifugal force to capture and then separate metal fines, oils and greases, grinding grit, and other contaminants from used vibratory finishing water. The result is solid waste that can be safely disposed of and water that’s clean enough for reuse. “It can also reduce finishing compound use by up to 90 percent,” said Mathews.

Mathews encourages you to send Walther a bottle of dirty water. “Even if they’re not using our equipment, we can test their water sample and tell them which flocculant would work best based on their application and the starting condition of their water, the number of machines they’re running, and their water flow rate through the whole system,” she said.

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