fabricators can save annually when using a particular style of abrasive product.
What should such a program cover?
• An analysis of the material removal rate
• Report on the pressure/amperage draw put
on the power tool during usage to ensure an
• Quantitative measurement of the performance
of the grinding wheel, cutting wheel, or wire
• Time studies on how long certain tasks took to
complete with different abrasive products
This type of data should then be used in conjunc-
tion with laboratory testing to prepare a preliminary
report showing savings when all other operation
costs are taken into consideration. For example, if
a product is priced 10 percent higher but lasts twice
as long, the fabricator should be able to quickly
identify the cost savings resulting from a reduction
in inventory used over the course of a calendar year.
The metal fabricator likely would want to see
some of the productive program suggestions put
into action on its own shop floor. That way the fabricator can conduct its own broader-scale tests so
they can see the results for themselves and validate
the earlier test data.
This is especially important with grinding wheels
and abrasives because both the tool being used and
the operator can change the results dramatically.
The more powerful the grinder, the more pressure
an operator may put on the wheels. Fabricators typically want to do their own tests to see how different
grinders and different operators affect the testing
The optimal approach is to conduct in-shop test-
ing for a month. For example, if the shop typically
uses about 100 wheels in a month, it purchases 100
of the new abrasive product to be tested, and puts
them into use throughout the shop, conducting
operations as usual. If the shop has 20 wheels left
over at the end of the month, it is proof that the new
wheels are about 20 percent more efficient than the
product formerly used.
The laboratory analysis might prove interesting
from a power tool perspective. For example, a large
shop may use air grinders, so a laboratory analysis
would be performed on an air grinder to give the
shop a real-world comparison between abrasive
products. If the shop uses an electric grinder (
typical for smaller shops), two tests are conducted, one
with the fabricator’s current grinder and one with a
different type of grinder. Information on what the
shop could save if it invested in a more powerful
grinder is put in the productivity report.
At the end of this three-step process, a metal fabricator should have a good idea of what can be changed
in its mechanical finishing operations to achieve
increased productivity, more safety awareness, and
reduced operational costs. The big change may be
related to new abrasive consumables, but final recommendations also might entail process changes,
such as reducing the number of steps needed to
achieve the desired surface finish.
Every company that wants to have staying power
and be competitive globally has to do whatever it
can to take costs out of its operation while maintaining and even improving quality and productivity.
Looking for savings is part of everyone’s DNA. Some
metal fabricators might need a bit of a push to help
get them started. However, a couple of easy steps
will get them where they need to be.
Tom Morris is a product manager, mechanical solutions, Walter Surface Technologies, 810 Day Hill Road,
Windsor, CT 06095, 800-522-0321, www.walter.com.
When a tool operator applies too much pressure during a cutting operation, he is increasing the chance that the cutting disc might break, creating a potentially serious work hazard.
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After a fabricator has seen
the visual evidence of just what
is consumed during a month’s
worth of mechanical finishing
activity and explored the
importance of maintaining
worker safety, the shop is likely
to be more open to a formal
investigation of new abrasive