Page 23 - MetalForming December 2019
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 positions was their top challenge. Industry experts offer several expla- nations for the increasing amount of open manufacturing positions as well as the shrinking number of qualified candidates available to fill those posi- tions. Among the most significant are an aging workforce and a negative per-
ception of manufacturing work.
Automation Offers Answers
No matter the reasons, lack of skilled labor is a real issue. That said, automa- tion offers a real solution. Scrap-han- dling systems, fluid-recycling equip- ment and industrial water- and wastewater-treatment solutions offer automation opportunities that not only address the staffing issue but offer other advantages that directly benefit the bottom line.
Automated conveying equipment handles the transportation of metal scrap from the point of production through load-out with a minimal amount of employee involvement. Conveyors also reduce the need to staff an operation with forklift operators. This helps eliminate one of the most strenuous manual tasks in a metal working operation while improving the overall safety of the workplace. Both outcomes can contribute to employee attraction and retention while lowering labor-related costs.
Tramp-oil separators automatically remove free-floating and mechanically dispersed tramp oils, bacteria, slime, inverted emulsions and more from individual machine sumps, central sys- tems and wash tanks. This equipment eliminates the need for employees to manually vacuum oil from the rinse tanks, and can reduce tramp oil to less than 1 percent in a single pass. Addi- tional benefits include reducing new- fluid purchase costs by as much as 75 percent and reducing hazardous waste volumes to 90 percent.
Mechanical or automatic hydraulic dumpers help simplify cart unloading, resulting in an efficient one-person operation that involves using a hand- held control for equipment operation.
Load-out systems complete the scrap handling process by moving metal scrap to distribution bins for transport to the recycler. These systems provide efficient, automated, and even filling, allowing for maximum use of container space and maximum value from the recycler.
Chip-processing systems automate the process of reducing turnings and bushy wads to flowable, shovel-grade chips while separating scrap from fluid. Vertical axis crushers, for exam- ple, maximize labor allocation by pro- viding continuous, positive feed oper- ation and automatically removing
For metal formers employing machining operations, a crusher/wringer system such as this reduces the volume of large bundles and stringy turnings. Such equip- ment delivers dry, shovel-grade chips and reclaims as much as 99 percent of coolants and cutting oils.
occasional solids to prevent equipment damage.
All of these systems improve pro- ductivity by freeing workers to focus on production and throughput. They also reduce the potential for dangerous contact with sharp metal material and minimize environmental risks. And, they position an operation to receive maximum value from scrap-metal recy- cling, and provide the opportunity to reuse spent coolant.
Modern equipment provided for conveying, scrap handling, fluid recy- cling and water/wastewater treatment, also delivers maximum uptime with low maintenance. This eliminates the need to overstaff maintenance tech- nicians, and helps maintain process productivity.
Mind Waste Streams
When Assessing Productivity
Productivity improvements in today’s manufacturing plants typically arise through evaluation of production equipment, operating procedures and production-labor allocations. Contin- uous improvement in this area also should include waste streams, which offer several opportunities to address skilled-worker staffing. To keep a pro- duction line flowing safely and efficient- ly, it is important to gain the efficiencies, dependability and repeatability of auto- mated equipment. The goal: not to put people out of work but to retain qual- ified employees and minimize the impact of a shrinking workforce.
Working with an experienced equip- ment and systems provider to auto- mate systems throughout a process can help metal working plants thrive in an environment where attracting and retaining qualified employees con- tinues to be a challenge. MF
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