Automation, Part 6—Environmental Considerations of Automation

Technology has transformed almost every aspect of life and the shop floor is no exception. As explored in previous Automation Blog Series posts, Rosler Metal Finishing believes automation represents the new norm in mass finishing and shot blasting. In the face of increasing competition, manufacturing interests will continue to demand lower cost, higher efficiency, and greater flexibility from their chosen surface finishing partner.

Though it would appear that any downsides of automation are outweighed by its benefits, there’s a delicate balance to be struck when it comes to a symbiotic relationship with the world outside of the machine. Having previously discussed how human effort and ingenuity will work in harmony with automated processes, we now turn our attention to environmental considerations—namely, how automated machines used in mass finishing and shot blasting can impact the earth’s resources, and how manufacturers can mitigate that impact.

The International Institute for Sustainable Development notes that the rise of automation has thrust us into a “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” citing energy use, resource use, and ecosystems as the three most critical factors to watch as more automated processes are implemented.

These are important considerations, given that manufacturers often are targeted in headlines about waterway pollution and even global warming, but responsible manufacturing practices can help avoid the most egregious impacts and keep manufacturing operations in compliance.

Process Water Handling

In the process of mass finishing and wet blasting, the biggest consideration is with regard to the process water discharged from the finishing machines. Often, this water is tinged with metal and media fines; at times, it can also contain oil and dissolved metal. Of course, process water will carry the compound being used in the specific finishing process.

Mass finishing process water in different cleaning stages.
Mass finishing process water in different cleaning stages.

So how can operators of automated mass finishing machinery take special consideration to limit the contamination of any process water discharged from the plant? There are two main ways to effectively curtail such constituents.

Central Treatment

The establishment of a protocol that includes a central wastewater treatment plant is quite effective in removing contaminants. Also, such facilities require fewer dedicated staff members, which adds to the efficiency of this approach.

Centrifuges

This universal cleaning system is deployed to separate, purify, extract, and wash various materials using centrifugal force to generate 2,000 times the earth’s normal gravity. These systems also require little operator attention, can be acquired in completely automated or semi-automated configurations, and can be used for most standard mass finishing applications.

Rosler offers two centrifuge models; the semi-automatic Model Z 800 and the fully automatic Z 1000.

Rosler's Z 800 centrifuge is semi-automatic.
Rosler’s Z 800 centrifuge is semi-automatic.
Rosler's z 1000 centrifuge is fully automatic.
Rosler’s z 1000 centrifuge is fully automatic.

With the right approach to treating discharged process water, you can ensure you are a good steward of your environment, while also maximizing the efficiencies and benefits to be gained from automating your mass finishing and wet blasting operations.

The Rosler Way

The experts at Rosler are uniquely qualified to develop an automated finishing process for your surface finishing needs that is both effective and ecologically responsible. Contact us to get started today.

In the next installment of the Automation Blog Series, we’ll look at the equipment that best positions your business for successful automation of your mass finishing and shot blasting operations.

You may also be interested in previous posts in the Automation Blog Series, including:

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