One squirt of lubrication can make all the difference in the world for a stamped sheet-metal part to be properly produced.
However, as important as lubrication is, if it’s misused and wasted, it can easily impact the bottom line. It can also produce a hazardous working environment for employees while adding to maintenance costs.
But there is a way to solve these problems.
Troy Turnbull, president/owner of Industrial Innovations, an industrial lubrication manufacturing company, suggests that companies that use lubrication systems for many presses should look into a centralized system to reduce lubrication and maintenance costs.
“When we visit a facility we look at the plant’s cleanliness. It there are die lubricants all around the press bolsters and on the floor where the operators walk and where parts are being packaged and inspected, the company has a maintenance problem.
“Also when we see puddles of lubricant on the end of conveyor tables we know that the operators are using too much lubricant. Anything that’s on the floor, bolster or press is overspray and waste. The whole objective is to put the lubricant on the steel that’s being stamped versus all over the plant,” says Turnbull.
The next thing that Turnbull looks at is how the company is mixing their lubricant. Some multi-press stamping facilities could be trying to maintain a 10 to one lubrication mixture for all their presses. However, he mentions, there could be people on three different shifts mixing the lubricant.
“You might have a 10-to-one mixture on day shift, and on the third shift a one-to-one mix. On the second shift, you might have a five to one or a 100-to-one mix. It’s hard to maintain a constant or a exact mixture when you’re doing it by hand.
“With our centralized lubrication system, we can prove the cost savings to the company, not only through properly mixing the product and maintaining it at an exact ratio, but we’ll also prove that they’ll get a huge quality benefit by maintaining the proven mix ratio to get the most out of the lubricant,” says Turnbull.
Shipping costs can also be reduced, notes Turnbull. For instance, if a company purchases a 300-gallon tote of a one-to-one mix of lubricant, they have 150 gallons of water and 150 gallons of lubricant. They’re purchasing and shipping 150 gallons of water.
“When you purchase premixed lubricants, there are huge hidden costs. By just purchasing the lubricant, you save shipping costs along with the cost of sending back empty totes,” he remarks.
One company saves costs
In the mid 1990s a Tier-One automotive supplier installed a plant-wide non-centralized lubrication system from Industrial Innovations when its facility was first built. In June, 2012 they replaced it.
The company does all different types of stamping including deep draws and progressive work.
This time they went with Industrial Innovation’s centralized-lubrication-control system that allows the company to take full control over the lubrication application process. It provides proportional lubricant mixing, lubricant spraying and a MSR-style reclamation unit.
It automatically mixes the product and distributes it throughout the plant at a desired mix ratio and precisely controls the amount of lubricant used. It can be used for both flood coolant and spray lubrication.
“It helped them put the lubricant when and where it was needed and keep any waste to a minimum,” remarks Turnbull.
Industrial Innovations designed and installed the comprehensive lubrication solution, which consists of a Triple Pro-Mix 5 system capable of mixing a lubricant at three different ratios simultaneously and four Spra-Rite application systems that dispense lubricant throughout the plant. Additionally, there is a MSR 33 Lubricant Recycling System that filters dirt particles and eliminates tramp oils, enabling lubricant re-use.
There is a huge difference between the two systems, mentions Turnbull. Before, there was no main control system or the ability to premix lubricants. Each stamping press had its own spray-lubrication system. Press operators just turned nozzles on and off.
“When the stamping press was at top dead center, the spray system just gave a signal to spray the part, keeping the sprayer on the entire press stroke,” notes Turnbull.
“With the new system, all an operator does is position the nozzles where they need them and then program them individually for volume and stroke. They can turn them on and off at a particular time, and pinpoint the lubricant to precisely where it’s needed, and in the exact volume they need for the particular type of stamping being produced to properly lubricate the punches and dies,” remarks Turnbull.
The Tier One supplier also worked with other vendors along with reviewing different types of operations to place lubricant on the sheet metal.
Turnbull says they talked to a company that offered a lubrication system that was totally the opposite of spraying. “It was actually a roll coating lubrication system. But they had better results going with our type of application than using a roll coating one. With our system they actually use 30 percent less lubricant.”
Another way to save costs
Lubrication reclamation systems can also save a company costs. When flood cooling is used during the stamping process, a reclamation system reclaims a large portion of the fluid. Instead of flooding tooling and dumping the coolant into a pit that pumps it away as waste, a reclamation system re-circulates the product, runs it through the reclamation process and reuses it.
“It can also remove oil from water and machine tool coolant,” says Turnbull.
“They can actually reuse the coolant several times. Our reclamation system will filter the coolant while replenishing it with fresh coolant to replace the filtered or evaporated product.
“Instead of using fresh product 100 percent of the time, now they’re using it only 30 percent of the time, but the company still gets the exact same benefits from the lubricant or coolant. A reclamation process can easily reduce the coolant or lubricant usage by 50 percent.”