Tips for cleaning and maintaining machines in a COVID-19 environment

Published
April 03,2020 - 04:15pm

By Master Fluid Solutions

Perrysburg, Ohio - April 2020 – As the COVID-19 crisis continues to disrupt the way companies operate, there are many concerns about workplace cleanliness and the health and safety of workers when dealing with the novel COVID-19 virus.

Master Fluid Solutions wanted to share some useful guidelines about how manufacturers can manage machine cleaning and maintenance in a COVID-19 environment. This information is based on the CDC's guidelines for minimizing the spread of the virus and OSHA/HHS guidelines for implementing updated cleaning and safety measures and workplace controls.

While our products endure vigorous health and safety testing during the formulation phase to reduce the GHS and SDS impact as much as possible, this virus is so new that no testing or information concerning its sustainability in a metalworking fluid matrix is currently available. Until we have more information and a clear guidance from the CDC, we suggest following the guidance below for handling potentially contaminated metalworking fluids and in-process cleaners:

  • If any metalworking fluids and in-process cleaners are suspected of being contaminated with COVID-19, they should be removed from the machine using proper Personnel Protective Equipment (PPE) and disposed of under local municipality waste treatment guidelines.
  • The machine should be cleaned with Master STAGES™ Whamex™ or Whamex XT™ in accordance with Master Fluid Solutions Quick Clean Procedures to have minimal effect on your operations. You can find these cleaning procedures on pages 9 through 12 of “The Handy Pocket Guide to a Clean Shop”.
  • Additional guidance for Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations can be found at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/cleaning-disinfection.html.
  • Master Fluid Solutions does not recommend adding disinfectants or bleach to the metalworking fluid system. Doing so can increase the chance of other issues such as dermatitis, machine and part corrosion, chemical reactions and odor concerns.

Preparing Your Sump for a Temporary Shutdown

In the event of a potential shutdown, there are several steps that companies need to take to maintain their sump. The steps below will help prepare your sump for a temporary shutdown, and should be started several days prior to any shutdown.

Before starting, it is critical that the systems be in as good of a shape as possible when they are shut down. Concentration, pH, reserve alkalinity, etc. should be in the specified range.

  1. Remove the tramp oil from the sump. Tramp oil is both food and shelter for bacteria, which is the main cause of the rancid smell that can come from the coolant. 
  2. Clean out chips and sludge from the sump. Chips and sludge are also food and shelter for bacteria. A Sump Sucker will make this job quick and easy. 
  3. Bump up the concentration – this adds a little more pH buffering to the sump, which helps to prevent bacteria. Our recommendation is to bump up the concentration to the maximum recommended operating range for the product being used. If adds are needed for alkalinity, pH, etc., add them a day or so before the system is shut down.
  4. Make arrangements for whatever sampling you want to have done to be completed and the results communicated before the shutdown occurs.
  5. If possible, recirculate the coolant in the sump during the shutdown. In many cases maintenance staff may be present. Have them turn on the coolant pumps to recirculate the volume of the sump several times over.
  6. If you are going to run a centrifuge over the shutdown make sure you have sufficient tramp oil and waste capacity.
  7. Finally, make sure you have plenty of supply of Coolant, Whamex XT, Task 2 etc. to keep the systems running smoothly and to prevent any issues for when life gets back to normal.

Related Glossary Terms

  • centrifuge

    centrifuge

    Filtering device that uses a spinning bowl and the differences in specific gravities of materials to separate one from another. A centrifuge can be used to separate loosely emulsified and free oils from water-diluted metalworking fluid mixes and to remove metalworking fluids from chips.

  • coolant

    coolant

    Fluid that reduces temperature buildup at the tool/workpiece interface during machining. Normally takes the form of a liquid such as soluble or chemical mixtures (semisynthetic, synthetic) but can be pressurized air or other gas. Because of water’s ability to absorb great quantities of heat, it is widely used as a coolant and vehicle for various cutting compounds, with the water-to-compound ratio varying with the machining task. See cutting fluid; semisynthetic cutting fluid; soluble-oil cutting fluid; synthetic cutting fluid.

  • metalworking

    metalworking

    Any manufacturing process in which metal is processed or machined such that the workpiece is given a new shape. Broadly defined, the term includes processes such as design and layout, heat-treating, material handling and inspection.

  • tramp oil

    tramp oil

    Oil that is present in a metalworking fluid mix that is not from the product concentrate. The usual sources are machine tool lubrication system leaks.