Planning, visualization and improving results

Jim Murphy
Tags: business management

Ease and efficiency are important factors in running a smooth manufacturing operation. As Metaldyne Corp., a Michigan-based manufacturer of driveline and transmission products discovered, oil skimming could improve the company’s already smooth-running manufacturing processes. And, the company discovered that selecting the right kind of oil skimmer could provide an overall cleaner system with lasting performance.

Metaldyne’s Driveline and Transmission Group operates Hatebur AMP 30, AMP 50 and AMP 70 fully automated, horizontal hot-forming machines at their Royal Oak , Mich. , facility. These machines produce high-quality, near-net components. From bar stock to precision forgings, the Hatebur machines can produce up to 120 parts per minute. Hot-rolled bars enter at one end of the machine, which heats, feeds, cuts off, forms and pierces forgings along the conveyor in a single pass.

As part of the forging process, Metaldyne uses water to wash the ends of the hot-rolled bars and to cool the dyes. Meanwhile, oil is used to lubricate the forging equipment. Throughout the process, the excess water and oil are collected in a pit below the Hatebur machines.

Why skim?

Ideally, Metaldyne wanted to be able to reuse the water and salvage the oil, while improving its manufacturing process as a whole. The company recognized that the oil also could not be salvaged without first removing the water. The water would diminish the effectiveness of the oil and lead to machine damage if it is reused to lubricate the equipment. Thorough skimming would allow the reusing of this oil, which saves money and benefits the environment. And, by skimming the oil from the water, the company might be able to improve their manufacturing process by creating a cleaner system.

Metaldyne determined that the benefits were worth researching and investing in an oil skimming solution. The company initially installed a floating oil skimmer/separator system, which pumped oil into an above ground separator. Unfortunately, the company quickly learned that the system was high-maintenance and unreliable because it did not always remove the excess oil from the water.

“The system required a lot of maintenance because the separator kept clogging up,” says Ken LaBruyere, project planning manager for Metaldyne Royal Oak – Hatebur Operations. “Our employees had to manually clean out the separator, which was causing a lot of separator downtime.”

Metaldyne determined that finding a cleaner, lower-maintenance replacement system would help reduce the downtime they were experiencing with their current system, provide a reliable solution to removing oil from the cooling water, and potentially improve their manufacturing processes.

Making a discovery

LaBruyere investigated a variety of oil skimming systems and discovered the Model 6V oil skimmer from Oil Skimmers Inc. of Cleveland , Ohio . Oil Skimmers’ unique flexible floating collector tube made of durable polyethylene, which attracts oil, not water, ensures continuous, maintenance-free operation.

The closed-loop tube snakes over and around debris to reach contaminants in the water. Oil adheres to the outside of the tube as it is slowly drawn across the surface of the water and into the oil skimmer. The tube is continuously drawn up into the oil skimmer and through the scrapers that remove the oil. Then, the tube returns to the water surface to collect more oil.

The Model 6V oil recovery system works unattended 24/7, removing as much as 100 gallons of waste oil per hour and decants it into a drum – so efficiently that the recovered oil is virtually water-free.

Metaldyne Royal Oak – Hatebur Operations selected nine oil skimmers for their facilities, which it incorporated along with a unique, specially designed mounting system, at the base of its Hatebur machines for simple oil recovery. According to LaBruyere, the Model 6V oil skimmers are compact and easy to hook up, which provided a straightforward installation.

Lower maintenance, reliable solution

Metaldyne improved its operations and practically eliminated downtime with the Model 6V oil skimmer, which does not experience clogging and parts maintenance problems often encountered with alternative skimming systems because the collector tube works around any debris that may be floating on the surface of the water. Virtually any in-plant oil contamination problem can be controlled – so Metaldyne could easily remove the excess oil from the cooling water.

The Model 6V oil skimmers offered Metaldyne two solutions in one – the systems remove oil from the cooling water so it can be reused during the manufacturing process, and the skimmers recover the separated oil, which can be of value in other applications.

The key to reusing the oil is to separate it before environmental elements minimize its value. Only continual removal – by the flexible floating collector tube – can ensure that just the oil is removed.

“We have utilized the Model 6V oil skimmers to separate oil from several different process fluids with good results,” says LaBruyere.

Improved process with lasting results

Another benefit of incorporating Model 6V oil skimmers into the manufacturing process is the ability to extend the life of the equipment. For manufacturers who recycle the water used in the cooling process, it is critical to remove all of the oil before reusing the water. If the oil is not completely removed, contaminants in the water could shorten the life of the tool.

Metaldyne can rely on the Model 6V oil skimmers, which are engineered to have an operational life of at least 15 to 20 years. External parts, which come in contact with the grit-laden oil, are made of high abrasion-resistant ceramic that also resists corrosion. The collection tube is not only durable, but it is also capable of withstanding temperatures up to 200 degrees F. Other internal components, such as gears and bearings, are made of high-strength steel and bronze. Even the gearing is engineered to eliminate major strain when in use, requiring minimal power.

“The Model 6V oil skimmers have run flawlessly,” says LaBruyere. “They require minimal maintenance and remove more oil than other units we’ve utilized in the past.”

Metaldyne plans to add one unit per month until all of the company’s Hatebur machines are equipped with oil skimmers.

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This article provided by Oil Skimmers Inc. For more information, visit

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