As a Gold Certified Supplier to some of the world’s largest aerospace companies, Koss Aerospace takes its environmental responsibility seriously. Headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, the components manufacturer always looks for ways to reduce its environmental impact and has taken a number of key steps to enhance overall efficiency and eliminate waste as part of its commitment to lean manufacturing, continuous improvement, and green initiatives.
Among those steps was the addition of a PRAB Guardian coolant recycling system to address cutting fluid capacity issues and improve other operational aspects.
“With the new system, we have seen around a 75% savings on new coolant purchases,” says Maintenance Manager Alexandre Blinov. “We received the exact system and results we were promised and are very happy with the system.”
Reducing excessive waste
Established in 1975, Koss Aerospace is a global, vertically integrated, Tier 1 manufacturer of aircraft components and assemblies for commercial aerospace and defense customers. It produces various structural parts, landing gear components, ribs and spars, floor and cross beams, winglets, bulkheads, seat tracks, and stringers with in-house capabilities for machining, processing, and assembly, resulting in a seamless integration of functions. Koss Aerospace also offers integrated manufacturing solutions for high-speed multi-axis machining, complete metal finishing, assemblies, kitting, program management, and supply chain management.
Among the most concerning aspects of the Koss Aerospace operation was excessive production of waste cutting fluid, accompanied by the obvious foul odor caused by bacteria and fungus in the spent coolant. The company’s previous recycling process involved a simple coalescence system that was labor intensive, required a lot of downtime for sump maintenance, and lacked the capacity to handle all of Koss Aerospace’s 26 machining centers with an average sump size of 500L (the largest having a 1,620L capacity).
Because the old system was unable to handle this amount of fluid, the company was disposing the excess spent coolant, moving the fluid with a mobile sump cleaner, incurring significant haul-away costs. In total, Koss Aerospace was discarding 4,000L of coolant per week.
Founder and President Drago Cajic, Vice President David Cajic, and Blinov had heard about Prab several years earlier and remembered the name while researching new recycling solutions. They explored several options and ultimately chose Prab’s Guardian system due to its greater capacity, ease of maintenance, and potential for significant coolant savings. The Guardian system also offered a coolant manager – an ozone generator designed to address the issues associated with the growth of bacteria, fungus, and mold.
With the primary criteria being ease of use and the ability to clean the company’s coolant to maximum capacity, Blinov worked with PRAB Fluid Filtration Specialist Ben McNinch and PRAB Engineer Chris Jones to specify the solution. After the Cajics gave their final approval, Blinov installed the system while PRAB Service performed the final inspection and personnel training to ensure proper operation prior to start-up. The Guardian system is plug and play – requires only connections for water, air, and power – and was up and running within two days.
Koss Aerospace began seeing operational improvements almost immediately:
- Higher-quality coolant improved machining, reduced maintenance, extended tool life
- Machine sumps, downtime fell, delivering smoother production during preventative maintenance
- PRAB-designed dirty transfer cart pumps spent fluid from machining centers directly to the Guardian; clean return system pumps recycled coolant back to the machines, reducing labor, maintenance costs; eliminates a mobile sump cleaner for fluid movement
- Less machine downtime for sump cleaning, increased productivity, efficiency, decreasing parts lead time
Haul-away costs also fell because there is no longer a need to dispose of excess fluid that – in the past – exceeded capacity. The combined savings from coolant consumption and spent fluid disposal has been significant:
- Previous coolant recycling system: 4 drums (832L) of new coolant oil required 4.5 totes (4,500L) of waste fluid disposal every 7 to 8 days (on average)
- PRAB Guardian system: 4 drums of new coolant needed every 28 days; 4.5 totes of waste fluid disposed of every 83 days (on average)
From the engineering department to the finance department, Koss Aerospace employees have noticed a difference throughout the plant since the Guardian system was installed. The most apparent has been an end to the unpleasant smell in the air caused by bad coolant. Equipment operators have seen major improvements in tool life and uptime. The Cajics and Blinov have been so pleased with the system’s performance that they are discussing adding a PRAB briquetter to further increase savings.