Cutting fluid is one of the unsung heroes of metalworking. Though it typically comprises less than 1 percent of an operation’s total budget, the solution comes into contact with every part of a shop, including the machines, products, and employees.
When properly maintained, manufacturers benefit from a number of savings, including lower material costs from longer fluid and cutting tool life. In fact, high-quality TRIM® fluids, in conjunction with proper maintenance protocols, helped an automotive parts manufacturer save over $180,000 per year.
These direct savings only scratch the surface of the good that comes from keeping cutting fluids clean. Here are additional benefits for manufacturers, including improved employee morale and lower environmental impact:
Operate With Higher Standards
Proper coolant maintenance requires workers to regularly check fluid concentration and perform other tasks to prevent tramp oil and bacteria from forming. Don’t stop there, though: Transfer this discipline to other areas. For instance, checking concentration is an opportunity to ensure the machine and surrounding space are clean and tidy. Instilling the discipline of proper machine cleaning, coolant management, and preventative maintenance all leads to an improved working environment.
Improve Employee Morale
Research by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that Americans spend an average of one-third of their life at work, which is why cultivating a positive environment is critical. In fact, a study by Oxford University found that workers are 13 percent more productive when they’re happy. Interestingly enough, coolant management plays a direct role in this.
Tramp oil in cutting fluid sticks to everything it comes into contact with — and when coolant becomes heavily contaminated, it creates residues and smoke that can quickly destroy the air quality on the shop floor. Workers won’t simply deal with an odor; there’s also potential risk of illness and damage if they breathe in too much smoke. Coolant contaminated with bacteria is usually dirty also and can be more likely to cause dermatitis when it comes into contact with workers’ skin, too.
Happier employees will also improve a company’s reputation. Workers who are well cared for stay longer at jobs and minimize the cost of training new employees. Positive word of mouth will also make it easier to attract new talent during expansion phases. In today’s difficult hiring environment, keeping employees is becoming more critical.
Better for the Environment
Clean cutting fluid enjoys a long life, conserving resources and preventing environmental impact. Proper coolant management can also play a role in reducing energy use.
The quality of cutting fluid can have a significant influence on machining, which is up to 50 percent of the total energy demand of a manufacturing operation. Keeping fluid clean won’t just extend tool and sump life — it can also help machines run more efficiently, improving productivity while reducing energy consumption. Coolant that’s kept clean throughout its life also has less impact on the environment when properly disposed of since it will not contain as much tramp oil, contaminants, and particulates as coolant that is improperly cared for.
Beyond Savings: Well-Managed Coolant Can Increase Revenue
The environmental benefits of well-managed coolant also present opportunities to increase revenue. The Environmental Protection Agency created a page outlining the business case for sustainable manufacturing. As the world contends with climate change, the industrial sector is looking for ways to minimize carbon emissions and pollution. The EPA identifies sustainable manufacturing as a way to:
- Establish eco-friendly manufacturing methods as a brand differentiator
- Appeal to customers who are interested in or mandated to work with sustainable suppliers
- Respond to current or stay ahead of future environmental regulations
- Build long term success by staking out the eco-friendly space now
Well-maintained cutting fluid also features lower carry off, reducing usage, and leading to drier metal chips which are easier to clean and recycle.
Coolant management can be a time-consuming endeavor, but its benefits make it worth the effort. With the impact it can have on shop environment, worker retention, and sustainability, carefully maintaining coolant gives manufacturers a competitive edge.
For more information on how to optimize operations, call +1 800-537-3365 or email us at [email protected].