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The pressure to reduce the cost of manufactured components, particularly in the high-volume turned parts market, has led many companies to review their own manufacturing costs. Some have chosen the route of sourcing lower cost consumables, while others, such as Roscomac, have looked beyond price, to address the value they are getting and are now benefitting from reduced manufacturing costs, improved performance and enhanced process security.
A fire in a machine tool is not normally seen as a positive event but in the case of Roscomac, the Worthing-based specialist sub-contractor of high quality precision engineered components, it proved to be a catalyst for change. They felt that the fire was caused, in part, by the low flash point of its existing neat cutting oil. “We had been using this particular oil on our sliding head section as it was a considerably cheaper per litre option than those on offer from suppliers, such as Jemtech,” says Tim Osman, Roscomac’s Sliding Head Supervisor.
This particular oil had been in use for some time and had been causing a number of issues, in particular poor tool life. “The issues were more noticeable on one particular stainless steel threaded component,” says Tim Osman. “We were only managing 300 parts per insert with almost 100 per cent inspection being required on the threads. Inserts were being changed every four hours and the lost time and potential for scrap was becoming expensive. “We looked at everything to solve the problems, new inserts and machine alignments; ignoring the oil completely, despite being told by Jemtech’s Mark Drummond that it was at the heart of the problem. That was until the fire.”
This dramatic event gave Roscomac the incentive to switch cutting fluids to Blasomill 22, which has a much higher flash point than what they had previously used. Jemtech’s technicians drained the coolant tank, cleaned it and refilled it with Blasomill 22 in under two hours. The improvement witnessed by Roscomac was instant, with tool life increasing to 3000 parts per insert and insert changes occurring every 40 hours rather than every four. The consistency of size on the threaded element of the part was also improved dramatically, resulting in a requirement to check only one in 250 parts, freeing up operator time for other jobs. “What was a job that was challenging is now so, so, easy to manage,” says Tim Osman.
The two hours that Jemtech needed to clean out the old oil and replenish it with Blasomill 22 has proved to be highly beneficial to Roscomac. Beyond the savings that are being made on the sliding head machines in terms of process security, product consistency and a significant reduction in the amount of cutting oil that is being ordered, due to BlasoMill 22’s longevity; they are also benefitting further down the line as the improved surface quality of the machined parts now requires less polishing, generating even greater cost savings.
Other benefits from switching to Blasomill 22 are the oils chlorine-free status, which ensures no corrosion on the machine or parts from its use. The inclusion of anti-wear and extreme pressure additives, along with its exceptional lubricating properties delivers extended tool life and good surface quality. And, with a flash point of 180 degree C the likelihood of another fire has been severely reduced.
“Switching to Blasomill 22 from Jemtech is a perfect example of how all manufacturing companies should look beyond the price of a product and concentrate on its value to the business,” says Brian Greenslade, Roscomac’s Production Manager. “The benefits that we are gaining, such as process security, reduced oil use, increased tool life, better working environment, are far outweighing the price saving per litre offered by our previous oil. The easy option of looking for a cheaper alternative is not one that has any long-term benefits while the added value of a highly technical solution, supported by qualified technicians has proved itself to be the winning solution.
“That said, it wasn’t an easy task to persuade the operators that changing the oil would be a positive thing. At first they were highly sceptical, taking the attitude that they had heard all of the salesman’s claims before and were of the opinion that simply changing the oil wouldn’t make a difference. However, within hours of the first machine being changed to Blasomill 22 they were clamouring for the other seven sliding head machines to be converted. Following the success on the sliding heads we are now looking at switching to Blaser cutting fluids on our turning and machining centres.”