We occasionally hear from aerospace machining operations who are absolutely convinced that their fluid supplier has abruptly changed formulation:
“We’ve been running with Fluid X for years,” they tell us, “but in the past year, it really seems to have turned to junk. Brown waxy build-up on everything, lubricity isn’t lasting like it used to…” and so on. Their fluid supplier takes samples, but the chemistry seems fine.
So the guesswork begins:
Maybe it’s chlorides or other mineral build-up from recharging with tap water; let’s try this…
Maybe it’s a change in the upstream municipal water supply interacting with the chemistry; let’s try that…
Maybe we need to shut down the line and do a complete sump out of the the mills…
Maybe it’s bacteria…
Maybe we need to mix at a heavier concentration…
Guess-n-check whack-a-mole can cost you a fortune in fluids and lost production while continuing to eat up your tools and produce tons of rejects–and still leave you where you started.
Because the problem isn’t the fluid.
In our experience, fluid suppliers like Houghton simply do not suddenly change formulation without telling anyone. They understand what the stakes are for their customers, and how delicate the balance can be in an aerospace machining operation.
A Filtration System, or a Filtration Solution?
The real issue here is that most operations have a fluid management system, not a fluid management solution. Putting equipment in place to filter your fluids isn’t really a solution. Yes, it addresses a specific known issue–sludge or ferrous fines or tramp oil infiltration or what have you. But it doesn’t give you any real visibility into what’s happening with your fluids. Conditions are constantly changing, and something that seems entirely inconsequential–municipal water pressure changes, how a supplier stores raw materials, a seemingly minor shift in your work cells–can get amplified through your fluid.
Without a sound fluid management solution in place, you won’t know there’s a problem until reject rates start climbing and tool life steadily declining.
Any real fluid management solution has to start with digging for true clarity into what’s happening in your fluid stream. “There’s a certain ingression rate of contaminants–particulates, fines, and so on–that’s coming from the machining process,” explains Martin Rodriguezacosta, a consultant with Trucent. “[That’s why] We investigate your operation, locate the contaminant, sample the system, then apply our industry knowledge to provide … [a] solution [that] maintains the overall health and performance of your system … We have so many different strategies for staying ahead of that ingression rate without creating downtime or slowing down your production line.”
Quality filtration–and the support of a company that has a deep understanding of filtration and fluid management–gives you all the predictable wins:
But it also takes the guesswork out of your hands when something inevitably changes and you need to tweak your system to get it back on track.