Michigan Manufacturer Accesses Coolant In Impossible Machines

John Stein, head of maintenance for Clark Manufacturing (Traverse City, Michigan) takes a foresighted approach to problems. He solves them before the happen. One of the toughest challenges he faced in keeping his coolant tanks clean was how to access the coolant in impossible machines, efficiently and economically.

Case Study From: 1/1/1996 Modern Machine Shop

John Stein, head of maintenance for Clark Manufacturing (Traverse City, Michigan) takes a foresighted approach to problems. He solves them before the happen. One of the toughest challenges he faced in keeping his coolant tanks clean was how to access the coolant in impossible machines, efficiently and economically. He solved his problem using the Sidewinder Zero Vertical Access Skimmer from Zebra Skimmers (Cleveland, Ohio).

Clark Manufacturing originally paid $5,000 to have 6,000 gallons of liquid waste removed each year, containing mostly coolant, water, and some oils. Today Clark only has to dispose of half as much waste, composed mostly of oils and coolant. At a cost of $0.40 a gallon, including trucking and everything, Mr. Stein is saving Clark $3800 each year. Best of all, Mr. Stein went from changing coolant tanks once a week to only once a month, leaving him more time for salmon fishing.

An integral part of extending coolant life is keeping it free from tramp oils. Mr. Stein knew skimmers were the best way to remove tramp oils from the sumps, and after doing some research, he chose Zebra Skimmers. He found they ensure that virtually pure oil is extracted from the coolant. Having no coolant in the output saves Mr. Stein money and solves one more problem.

But there were three machines that posed great access challenges. Traditionally, with machines that are impossible to access, Mr. Stein would have to shut the machine down, drain the coolant, cut a hole in the coolant tank, and weld a new tank extension over the hole.

Once this new extension was in place, he would recharge the coolant and place a regular skimmer there.

Then he learned of the Sidewinder, then under development at Zebra Skimmers. The Sidewinder is a type of tramp oil skimmer that uses an O ring arrangement to drag the oil out of the sump.

The ring goes through a scraper removing the oil from the ring. The clean ring then passes back into the machine. Its oil removal capacity is engineered to that of the machines it works on, pulling out about a quart of oil a day. Because its rate of oil removal is matched to that of the machine it works on, there is virtually no coolant removed. With a continuous duty motor, it can be on all the time. The unit mounts under a chip conveyor, or on the side of any tank in a matter of minutes, with no downtime.

One of the company's vertical machining centers had little overhead for any skimmer to fit. So Mr. Stein used the first Sidewinder ever made, mounting it over the offboard coolant tank. He had to make a custom top mount for it, but it was easy to do because the hole pattern is supplied with the unit. The skimmer slipped into its position, and removed the oil.

The same overhead problem existed for one of their lathes. Here, a Sidewinder went on the inboard coolant tank. Because there is a second wall a few inches in, no disk or belt skimmer could be mounted unless modifications were made. With Sidewinder, Mr. Stein was able to mount the unit in minutes, by extending the O ring over the second lip.

A third Sidewinder is on the HEM saw, where traditionally no skimmer ever goes. This is a side mount, so Mr. Stein cut a small slot in the side of the coolant tank (above the coolant line) so that the bucket fits just underneath it. The oils Sidewinder deals with in this application are unknown, as they can be anything that the steel supplier has put on them. Mr. Stein has Sidewinder come on when the saw is on, so that it continuously removes whatever oils float on the coolant. Before skimming, Mr. Stein changed the coolant often. With Sidewinder he doesn't have to worry about it for months. MMS

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