Cutting fluid is the unsung workhorse of the metalworking industry, impacting every aspect of an operation. When the fluid is high quality and well maintained, machinists enjoy seamless operation and improved finish quality, productions run with higher efficiency, and companies reap the benefits with higher profits. But when coolant is neglected or chosen based on cost alone, it has the exact opposite effect.

Despite the tangible impact cutting fluid issues can have on revenue and profit margins, company management may not always see the benefits of investing in an upgrade. It may be up to the machinists who interact with cutting fluid daily to advocate for an upgrade — both for their and the company’s sake. Here are five steps to take when making the case for a cutting fluid upgrade:

1. Document cutting fluid inefficiencies

“I think the best way to make the case for an upgrade is really to document as many of the current inefficiencies as possible,” explains Justin Boespflug, District Sales Manager at Master Fluid Solutions. “Otherwise, it’s hard for everyone to be aware of all of the costs associated with coolant.” 

Whenever workers begin to notice a trend in performance issues associated with their cutting fluid, it’s important for them to start logging these observations to fully understand the problem and assess how much it’s impacting the operation. Frontline workers should track details like:

  • Frequency of tool replacement
  • Issues with part quality
  • Rework rates
  • Excessive smoke or fumes
  • Foaming
  • Visible bacteria growth
  • Odor from the sump
  • Makeup and consumption rates
  • Sump cleanout frequency
  • Frequency of dermatitis reports

In addition to context about the issues, workers should also document the date of the occurrence, what machine the issue happened on, and the operation being performed, if relevant. 

2. Measure the costs of poor coolant performance

Keeping detailed documents will help with this next step of building a case for a cutting fluid upgrade — estimating the costs of poor-quality cutting fluid. Keep track of the costs associated with performance issues, like cleaning out machines frequently due to rancid coolant, including labor and equipment costs. 

Additionally, track the costs of coolant disposal, including any special disposal fees attached to each haul. On top of direct expenses, document the impact poor fluid has on revenue from increased machine downtime, lost productivity, higher part damage rates, and additional maintenance requirements. 

3. Identify the performance goals of an upgrade

Once you understand the cost of using low-quality coolant in your operation, you can use this knowledge to identify a replacement product and which KPIs could be improved with it. 

“There’s a lot of companies that you find out there utilizing metal working fluid technology that’s decades old, [but it’s important for them to] understand how something such as coolant can affect so many different variables within the bottom line,” says Boespflug.

Many fluids are formulated for compatibility with specific materials or optimized for specialty operations, so look for products best suited for your needs. Cutting fluid distributors can provide valuable insight into which products to assess for your cutting fluid upgrade.

4. Develop a plan for conversion

One of the biggest deterrents to a cutting fluid upgrade isn’t the upfront costs but instead the worry about how a changeout could disrupt an operation. Management may opt to avoid cutting fluid upgrades for years until they’re forced to change, but machinists, working with their coolant supplier, can put their minds at ease by developing a plan that includes conversion logistics, workflow, and timeline before pitching the idea to their supervisors. 

5. Leverage third-party experts

The best way for frontline workers to build a case for a cutting fluid upgrade is to ask for support. Third-party experts from a cutting fluid manufacturer or distributor can not only diagnose issues with your current solution, but also help identify exactly what savings to expect from a fluid upgrade and even estimate the impact on a company’s bottom line. What’s more, they can even develop the actual conversion plan and manage the logistics of the new fluid introduction, testing phase, shop conversion, and follow-up assessment so frontline workers can focus on their jobs. This support ensures the process goes smoothly and also provides valuable, authoritative validation of the issues machine operators encounter. 

Unify Operations With a Cutting Fluid Upgrade

Because their day-to-day tasks and performance metrics are so different, it can be difficult for management and frontline workers to assess issues the same way — especially when it comes to seemingly small-budget line items like cutting fluid. The team at Master Fluid Solutions can bridge the gap between these two parties and create a frictionless cutting fluid upgrade. Not only can our experts oversee the entire conversion process, but they often deliver far better performance results than originally estimated because TRIM® fluids are so advanced and superior to many products on the market. 

“At Master Fluid Solutions, we’re really diligent about supporting fluid upgrades through the entire sales cycle,” says Boespflug. “[We stay involved] from introduction, to test, to conversion, through post-conversion followup and education to make sure the product is working the way we said it would.”

Schedule a site visit to learn more about how to get started with your cutting fluid upgrade.