Coolant Filtration Yields Significant Savings

While many shop managers intuitively understand the importance of properly maintaining coolant, it's likely that few have calculated the actual cost savings of doing so. Keller Products says the 80-percent savings realized by one customer after installing pump/skimmer units is typical.

Article From: 1/18/2010 Modern Machine Shop, ,

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TKO pump/skimmer

Unlike belt or disc skimmers, Keller’s TKO pump/skimmers aerate coolant, draw oil from remote areas of the sump, operate while the machine runs and filter solid contaminants. The company adds that incorporating 1/2-inch, air-operated diaphragm pumps rather than electric pumps makes the units less susceptible to damage and easier to repair.

Peter Vlismas, vice president of PV Engineering, realized ineffective coolant maintenance had a detrimental impact on the performance of his Salisbury, Massachusetts-based shop. However, like many shop managers, he had no concept of the actual cost savings that could be gleaned from a more efficient system. To his surprise, installing TKO pump/skimmer units from Keller Products on the shop’s 21 CNC machine tools saved more than $80,000.

That figure represents more than 80 percent of the defense, power generation and medical component manufacturer’s annual coolant-related costs. While emphasizing that savings from efficient coolant maintenance can vary according to individual circumstances, Keller says PV’s experience is typical. Based on feedback from hundreds of customers, the company estimates that without proper filtration, coolant typically needs changing about every two months, or six times per year. In contrast, quality coolant maintained regularly with an efficient pump/skimmer unit can last for about a year in the sump. That translates to five—or 83 percent—fewer changeouts per year, with a corresponding reduction in coolant purchase and disposal costs. By extension, machine downtime and labor required for changeouts are also reduced by the same amount.

Keller stresses that considering only these savings ignores the bigger picture. Dirty coolant can cause problems with machine performance, tool life and surface finish—not to mention environmental issues such as odor and contact dermatitis. In fact, the company says customer feedback indicates conservative estimates for savings resulting from reduced tool wear might approach 10 percent of total tool cost.

The TKO units incorporate a self-priming, air-operated pump that pulls coolant from the surface of the sump through a floating inlet device. From there, contaminated coolant flows through a cartridge filter for chip removal and on through the company’s custom, maintenance-free separator element. Once free of tramp oil and other contaminants, the coolant returns continuously to the sump, while oil collected on the top of the separator tank is drained into a waste container. Models are available in floor-mounted configurations and with magnetic frames that mount directly to the machine tool.

Since installing the TKO units at PV Engineering, coolant waste is minimal, the machines run cleaner and more efficiently, and the company is more profitable as a result, Mr. Vlismas says. “All my objectives for the program have been achieved at relatively low cost and with no operating problems.”

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