Machine Shop for Oil and Gas Services Provider Wins When the Chips Are Down

Chip Filtering Keeps Machine Shop Coolant Clean

Since 1976, Facility Engineer Jay Wilson has handled the HVAC, electrical, and other operational facility needs for a key Texas-based plant within the FMC Technologies, Inc. (FMCTI) family. This leading global provider of technology solutions for the energy industry and other industrial markets was twice named as the Most Admired Oil and Gas Equipment Service Company by FORTUNE magazine. FMCTI employs approximately 11,000 people and operates 33 manufacturing facilities in 19 countries.

In the Stephenville, Texas facility, Jay says one of his key responsibilities is “to ensure that the machine shop has the needed services to sustain our business.” One best practice is to maintain a regular and systematic method of cleaning the shop sumps and coolant so that manufacturing operations can run at maximum efficiency. The company designs, manufactures and services many technologically sophisticated systems and products such as subsea production and processing systems, surface wellhead systems, high pressure fluid control equipment, measurement solutions, and marine loading systems for the oil and gas industry. FMCTI also produces food processing equipment for the food industry and specialized equipment to service the aviation industry.

Keeping It Clean, A Core Value

The very nature of the machining process itself employed in the Stephenville-Texas shop can dirty coolant over time, contaminating the fluids with tramp oil, chips and swarf. If left unattended, manufacturers regularly can experience many problems, including increased downtime of entire systems, slower cycle times of certain parts, as well as more tool and equipment replacements. Contaminated coolant also can contribute to an unsafe work environment, creating smoky conditions, an unpleasant “rotten egg” odor, and an increased chance of contact dermatitis among susceptible workers.

Obviously, keeping the coolant clean is a priority objective in a company like FMCTI that holds outstanding Health, Safety, and Environment (HSE) performance as a core value. Coolant lines run along designated columns
throughout the plant delivering coolant from a central tank to each machine. The Stephenville facility uses a system that regularly cleans the machine shop coolant by pumping it from the sumps, removing the common contaminants, rinsing off the systems with water, and then recharging them with reclaimed or new coolant. Jay’s team had been using coolant carts with diaphragm pumps to return the coolant after it was cleaned, but was looking for a more efficient method.

Portable Cleaning For Centralized System

Jay came to the conclusion that adding a sump-cleaning vacuum would make the entire process run more efficiently. After doing some research on the Internet, he selected the Abanaki Chiperator, one of the coolant skimmers, which provides the dual action of a vacuum and a pump. He felt the device, developed from a world leader in oil skimming and cleaning products, was a “solid piece of equipment that would benefit our centralized coolant distribution system.”

Indeed, the air- driven Chiperator was designed to vacuum and filter old cutting fluids loaded with chips from machine sumps inexpensively and efficiently. Coolant carts at the FMCTI facility now incorporate the Chiperator
along with an external return diaphragm pump. The external diaphragm pump is more powerful than the pump provided by the Chiperator and provides additional pumping capacity. The Chiperator quickly separates chips and swarf from liquids, drains or refills its 55-gallon drum in less than two minutes, and then pumps the strained coolant back to the 55-gallon drum with filter and a suction pump to withdraw coolant.

As Jay points out, the entire Chiperator cleaning system is on rollers for easy access – an important benefit. He decided to utilize a portable solution rather than have several coolant cleaning devices stationed permanently at each machine sump. For this system to work efficiently, it is essential that the coolant skimmers cleaning selected required minimal operator attention.

Easy, Economical Maintenance

Here, too, Abanaki offered an attractive design. The Chiperator’s economical, disposable filter bags were developed for easy cleanup. With no moving parts to malfunction, the unit also is easy to maintain. Its float valve automatically shuts off the coolant skimmer’s unit when the drum is full while an automatic pressure relief valve adds safety and an on/off valve offers easy shutoff.

Jay confirms that the Chiperator is definitely “more efficient, more user friendly, and very portable.”

“The guys that work with it like it,” he concludes.