With the supply chain in chaos and inflation impacting every industry, manufacturers have one thing on their minds: resilience. For companies to successfully navigate this challenging time, they must be able to adapt quickly to the changing landscape, control costs wherever they can, and invest in technology and innovations to stabilize operations as much as possible. But the principles of lean manufacturing may stand in the way of those goals.
In the lean paradigm, companies favored just-in-time manufacturing to minimize inventory and avoid overproduction. This worked great until 2020, when factories started shutting down or reducing output to prevent the spread of COVID-19, quickly drying up small inventories. Now, manufacturers are scrambling to recover while rebuilding the supply chain and figuring out how to stop this from happening again.
Refining basic processes to increase agility — even as simple as cutting fluid management — could be the answer.
What Is Agile Manufacturing?
Agile manufacturing is a flexible framework that allows manufacturers to respond immediately to customer demand and evolving market conditions. In the current supply chain mayhem, agility could be a defining trait of companies that thrive.
For a manufacturer to be agile, it must do two things:
- Keep a watchful eye on market conditions to foresee challenges and opportunities.
- Ensure processes are streamlined to change course at a moment’s notice.
Automation and AI are imperative for companies to achieve agility, but they are only one part of the equation. Having the most cutting-edge technology won’t help companies encumbered by inefficient processes, waste, and out-of-control operating costs. It also doesn’t help for companies that lack resources to fully invest in automation.
To be truly agile, manufacturers need to go back to basics and refine how they manage their supplies. In many cases, that means taking a hard look at how cutting fluid is valued in their operation — how it performs, how it’s managed, and how much is wasted each year.
How Cutting Fluid Management Makes Manufacturers More Agile
Cutting fluid management is the proper manufacturer recommended practices of carefully monitoring coolant usage and keeping it clean of tramp oil, chips, bacteria, and other contaminants for optimal performance. Here’s how it can help manufacturers increase agility:
Proper Coolant Selection
Many manufacturers opt to buy the least expensive coolant with little regard to its compatibility with different materials or operations. When managers pay attention to how coolant performs, they are more likely to choose a product that’s suited to the needs of their shop. Selecting a high-performance multi-metal coolant allows manufacturers to easily take on new parts and operations.
As a category, coolant usually comprises less than 1% of a manufacturer’s budget. Failure to use cutting fluid at proper concentrations will result in substantial waste, but the small cost is likely to go unnoticed by most manufacturers. However, even minor overspending here can add up to substantial waste over the course of a year.
What’s more, poor cutting fluid management and waste can dramatically impact every other budget category. Contaminated fluid won’t provide enough cooling and lubricity to protect cutting tools, increasing cutting tool spend. It also leads to poor surface finish, which can increase scrap rates and rework.
Reduces Machine Downtime
The more often coolant and cutting tools need to be replaced, the more time machines spend not producing. Proper cutting fluid management extends sump and tool life so both machines and employees have more productive days.
The more each machine produces in a day, the higher throughput manufacturers achieve over time — but cutting fluid management also brings additional efficiency gains. When fluid is clean, it performs at a higher level, allowing manufacturers to run higher speeds and feeds without sacrificing part quality. When shops can fill orders in less time, operations can quickly pivot to other types of work and bring in more revenue.
Effective cutting fluid management has the potential to completely transform a company at every level, from expense management to overall productivity. And with so much uncertainty in the supply chain and marketplace, it’s imperative for manufacturers to set themselves up for success by taking control of the few variables they can. Coolant management cuts through the chaos to create truly agile production processes.
To learn more about cutting fluid management, call +1 800-537-3365 or email us at [email protected].