COVID-19 shutdowns are affecting every business, including metalworking shops. On March 19, Ford temporarily suspended production in its European facilities because of the virus, and many shops around the world producing items deemed as “non-essential” by local and state governments will have to close temporarily as well. 

While production and capacity remained pretty much the same in manufacturing environments during the third week of March, more manufacturers are being affected as the weeks go on. Only 44% of companies are seeing no change to their business as of March 20, compared to 58% the previous week. 

Shutdowns are a real possibility. 

To protect the machinery, metalworking shops will want to prepare their sumps before shutting down operations. In fact, before a shutdown, it’s important that the machinery is in the best shape possible so that the shop can ramp up quickly and begin fulfilling orders once it’s safe to re-open. 

Machine operators can start by checking the following indicators of sump health to make sure they’re in the appropriate range:

  • concentration
  • pH
  • reserve alkalinity

Additionally, there are other actions to take. These best practices will help maintain the sump during a temporary closure.

  • Remove tramp oil from the sump. Bacteria will grow quickly otherwise, and that will lead to a rancid smell in the coolant.


  • Clean out the sump. Chips and sludge must be cleaned out from the sump as these also provide food and shelter for bacteria. A Sump Sucker can make this job much easier and go much faster.


  • Increase the concentration of the metalworking fluid to the maximum recommended operating range for the product being used. This will add more pH buffering to the sump, which in turn will help to prevent bacteria from growing. If additives are needed, we recommend using them at least one day prior to shutting down the system. Sampling should be completed, and the results need to be communicated before the system is shut down.

  • Recirculate the coolant in the sump. If it’s at all possible, we also recommend recirculating the coolant in the sump during the shutdown to keep tramp oil from rising to the surface, which may make it easier for bacteria to grow. In many cases, metalworking shops will be able to have their maintenance staff on duty. They can turn on coolant pumps to recirculate the volume of the sump several times over.

  • Address tramp oil and waste capacity. Should the metalworking shop plan to run a centrifuge during the shutdown, it’s important to ensure that there is enough tramp oil and waste capacity to prevent the oil and waste from being pumped back into the system, causing bacteria to form.

  • Keep your coolant and cleaners stocked. Metalworking shops need to make sure they have plenty of coolant, cleaners like Master STAGES™ Whamex™ XT, and Master STAGES™ Task2™, and anything else used for the machines. This will help keep the systems running smoothly and prevent problems when production ramps up once things return to normal.

More than ever, in the face of nonessential businesses being shut down, it’s critical to take care of machinery and ensure that it will be in the best condition possible once the all-clear is given by state and local governments. Preparing the sump before a shutdown is just one way to make it easier to start metalworking operations as soon as possible once it’s safe to reopen.

Should the company need further guidance in preparing its sump for temporary shutdown, call +1 800-537-3365 or email us at [email protected].