Oil Skimmer Provides A Smoke-Free Environment And Extends Coolant Life
When Tom Zovko, owner of Z and Z Manufacturing, a producer of hydraulic fittings and special screw machine products, couldn't see across his 15,000 square-foot machine shop, he knew he had a problem.
When Tom Zovko, owner of Z&Z Manufacturing (Cleveland, Ohio), a producer of hydraulic fittings and special screw machine products, couldn't see across his 15,000 square-foot machine shop, he knew he had a problem. The smoke generating from his CNC machines was not only polluting the environment but was also consuming many of his profits. That's when Mr. Zovko contacted Abanaki Corporation, Oil Skimmer Division (Chagrin Falls, Ohio) for a solution.
Founded in 1980, Z&Z manufactures hydraulic pipe tube, weld, hose and British/metric fittings in steel, stainless steel, aluminum, brass, Monel, plastic and various castings. Its machines use a way-lube oil to prevent rusting and ensure smooth operation and a coolant for easy cutting at high speeds. The problem: with the oil and the coolant concentrated in the same area, the end result was a smoke-filled atmosphere, which was unsafe for workers and against EPA regulations.
Mr. Zovko tried changing the coolant on a daily basis in an attempt to separate the lubricant from the coolant. This didn't work. Plus, it cost Z&Z Manufacturing thousands of dollars in coolant, downtime and labor charges.
Already successfully operating the Abanaki Mighty Mini belt oil skimmer in his machine shops, Mr. Zovko decided it was time to add another. The skimmer's belt is operated by a motor and pulley system, which keeps it in motion whenever the unit is activated. The design uses the difference in specific gravity and surface tension between oil and water to pick up oil, grease and other hydrocarbon liquids as the belt passes through the wash water. The one-inch belt can remove up to one gallon of oil per hour from the surface of the water. The two-inch belt can remove up to two gallons or more of oil per hour. The belt runs over a tail pulley connected to a stabilizer bar that is lowered into the wash water. After the belt passes over the drive pulley, it travels through tandem wiper blades where the oil is removed into a discharge channel. The oil then flows into a coolant-saving Abanaki Oil Concentrator where any residual water picked up with the oil is separated and sent back to the wash tank. The water-free oil is then discharged into a waste oil container.
The trial use of the Abanaki unit proved that oil skimming could extend the life of Z&Z Manufacturing's coolant for several weeks and rid the shop of heavy smoke. "Abanaki brought in a demo unit, made suggestions on the most efficient way to use the product, and said if we weren't completely satisfied we wouldn't have to pay. One week later, I told them to send me the invoice," said Mr. Zovko.
Since installing the Abanaki unit, Z&Z has increased the life of coolant and the life of tools, saved on maintenance and EPA costs, and employees have been able to breathe a whole lot easier, Mr. Zovko said.
An expensive lesson that many shops learn too late is that the automatic oil system on their CNC machine tool may not be completely automatic. Since the automatic oil system is designed to give a warning when the oil tank is empty, many machinists simply assume all is well if the alarm doesn't go off.
With their strong attention to routine housekeeping, it's not surprising that this shop carefully researched all methods for removing tramp oil from coolant in machine sumps. If tramp oil is allowed to build up in the coolant, the resulting shop odor, smoke generation and unpleasant conditions for the operators will quickly undermine all efforts to keep a clean shop and maintain an optimum working environment.
Moving on oil can let a grinding machine deliver more power along a smoother pass.