Concentration Control Is Key to Optimal Fluid Performance
If your shop uses water-based fluids for grinding and cutting operations, it is critical that you maintain the correct concentrations of these fluids to ensure maximum tool and fluid performance.
Fluids must be kept within the manufacturer’s recommended ranges for them to perform as expected. When the coolant concentration drifts out of spec — too high or too low — the consequences are expensive. Fortunately, a fluid maintenance program is easy to implement and execute, as we learn from BlackHawk supplier partner Benz Oil.
Lubricants as liquid tools
Think of your industrial fluids as tools in your arsenal. You have thousands, even millions of dollars invested in your CNC machines, lathes, drill presses, conveyors and other equipment. Fluids keep them running and/or help them to produce high-quality finished pieces. Take care of these fluids as you would the oil or coolant in your car.
Concentrations too low
A diluted concentration of fluid means that the mix contains too much water. A diluted mix causes rust to develop on the machine tool and the parts. Degradation is another risk — both in terms of premature tool wear and of the fluid itself — because the mix is out of spec. Over time, prolonged use of a bad fluid mixture can lead to a costly changeout of the sump itself. Taken together, the costs of operating with subpar fluid mixtures are staggering.
Concentrations too high
Conversely, too much fluid and not enough water can be just as devastating. Excess coolant can have an aggressive effect on seals and hoses, causing them to wear prematurely. This aggressive mix can be harmful to a worker’s skin. In addition to these risks, too rich of a mix causes you to use coolant too fast, meaning you will spend more to replenish your coolant stock.
Steps for proper coolant management
According to Benz Oil, fluid management involves four simple steps:
- Assign the task to a specific person. The person in charge can be a maintenance worker or an operator. What matters is that someone owns the task, and everyone else knows who that is.
- Check concentrations at least daily to catch out-of-spec variances as quickly as possible.
- Use a refractometer for sampling. Calibrate it before using and follow the instructions. The process takes less than a minute.
- Record and post the results. Use a log sheet (time dated and initialed) with the reading. Post the sheet at the machine.
- Because fluids become contaminated over time with particulates, dissolved metals, chips and tram oil, change out the fluids on a regular schedule based on machine usage.
Remember, good maintenance practices save money. Your BlackHawk and Benz Oil professionals can assist you with fluid selection and setting up a fluid replacement schedule.
Adapted from the Benz Oil video Importance of Concentration Control (Water-based Fluids). A refractometer calibration video is available on the same page.