Steve Coull, Managing Director of Jemtech (UK), the UK distributor of Blaser Swisslube Metalworking fluids highlights the benefits of buying consumables on their value, not on their cost.

It is always easy to fall into the trap of looking at price as opposed to costs and value when you have to spend hard-earned money on consumable items. However, by taking the low-price option instead of the high value one, you may be short changing yourself and your business. This is particularly the case when looking at metal cutting and the consumables that surround it.

As a relatively small percentage of the overall manufacturing cost reducing the purchase price of consumables, such as cutting tools and metal working fluids, will have minimal impact on the purchasing budget. Conversely, buying cheaper, lower quality products can, and will, have dramatic consequences for the bottom line profitability of a business.

Let’s take metalworking fluids as an example. A typical sump on an average machine tool would contain around 1000 litres of metal working fluid. So, assuming that all cutting fluids are the same you would need 80 litres of concentrate to create 1000 litres of mixed coolant. Therefore, if one costs £5/litre and the other £2/litre the saving would be £160 every time you filled the sump.  However, for there to be a price differential of that magnitude, there has to be a difference in the product, and it is that difference that will cost you money in the longer term.

Generally lower cost metal working fluid concentrates contain a much lower percentage of oil and the constituent parts of that mix are of lower quality. As a result the sump will require topping up much more frequently than when using a higher quality metalworking Fluid. An unusual comparison would be with that of buying cheap Orange squash, where you have to add more and more concentrate in order for it to taste like Orange Juice. Similarly, with metalworking fluids the weaker the concentrate the more you need to top up the sump so extra usage outstrips the cost per litre saved.

The consequences with Metal working fluids just tend to be more expensive. For example, can you justify the potential cost of a tap breaking in a component manufactured from expensive (limited availability) material, which has had many hours of machined value added to it, for the sake of saving £240 on cutting fluid?  The use of lower quality ingredients also poses risks of reduced tool life, machine longevity and operator well-being as health and safety issues are impacted on by lack of research from lower cost providers. On the other hand, a higher concentration of high quality oils within the metalworking fluid has a positive effect on toolife, machine reliability and health and safety.

User will see significant increases in tool life, typically between 10 and 20 per cent when machining ‘exotic’ materials, and the metalworking fluid itself will last much longer, require less topping up, so reducing the volume used by between 15 and 20 per cent, especially when machining exotic materials. These savings will be enhanced through improved process security, as the risk of tool breakage is reduced. And the associated reductions in scrap and rework.

What we have to remain focused on is that the value of manufacturing is in the finished component and the method used in its manufacture, not in the price of the consumables that are used to produce it! By concentrating on these values manufacturing companies will see improved profits.