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Fluid Condition Management

October 01, 2012
Neil M. Canter
Online Only Articles
STLE University


In the Metalworking Fluid Management Certificate Course, the fluid condition management module is an important one that provides the tools needed to effectively maintain a metalworking fluid system. An effective metalworking fluid management program starts with the goal of determining the current condition of a specific system in order to extend its useful operating life, evaluate trends in the system’s conditions, identify areas for improvement and determine the most effective way to treat the system.

An emphasis is placed on not only generating relevant data but also formatting it properly so that it can be understood. Communicating effectively is an extremely important element of this process.

Six factors need to be evaluated to select the proper analysis techniques. These include the type of metalworking fluid used in the system, type and severity of the operation, type of metal machined, sensitivity of operators involved, size of the system and the availability of test methods.

Specific examples are provided to show how each of these factors can be used to recommend the proper analysis techniques. In the case of operator sensitivity, the fluid pH, tramp oil level and concentration are all parameters that must be measured because each one can cause irritation if found at too high a level. For example, a pH above 9.5 may trigger dermatitis complaints.

Guidelines are offered on how frequently metalworking fluids should be analyzed, sampling techniques, minimization of contaminants, removal of contaminants, removal of oil and how to clean out metalworking fluid systems.

A number of potential metalworking fluid problems are described along with suggestions for questions that need to be answered to determine the source of these problems and what to do to correct them. Key examples include dermatitis, foaming and excessive misting.

For dermatitis, questions about the fluid pH, presence of contaminants, concentration of the fluid and whether the problem was caused by activities outside of coolant exposure need to be answered.

With foaming, questions to be answered to find the cause include whether the problem is mechanical in origin, has a contaminant been introduced, the tendency of the metalworking fluid to foam and is there a problem with the persistence of the defoamer used.

Questions to be asked about excessive misting include is there a very high level of contaminating oils, are pump pressure too high, does the system use machine enclosures and are trench nozzles open too much?

Once a decision is made about the type of testing that needs to be generated on a specific system, the key aspect of this module is that data prepared from the testing must be prepared as frequently as possible. Data is vitally important in winning arguments about the state of a particular metalworking fluid system and how to deal with specific operating problems.

Neil Canter is the Owner of Chemical Solutions and member of STLE. He is one of the instructors for the upcoming 2013 Metalworking Fluid Management Certificate Course (for more information, click here) and he will be teaching and chairing the education course MWF 105: Metal Forming Fluids, to be held at the 2013 Annual Meeting in Detroit, MI.

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