Many entrepreneurs in various industries, including stone, are often racking their brains how to increase productivity and reduce operating costs. There is a variety of possible measures to be taken, ranging from using better, more efficient tools and machines, through cheaper materials, new technologies, to changes in organization of work and production management. The vast majority of companies, when asked how to improve work in the plant and increase productivity, start by mentioning modern CNC machines, a new forklift or overhead crane, new slab grippers, laser rulers and gauges, order in the warehouse….
However, only few will mention water as a factor that significantly affects the quality and efficiency of production and a factor that generates significant costs for the company. Perhaps everyone thinks water is cheap. But everyone will support replacing old machines with new ones with the argument of “barely” a few percent cut in energy consumption or a few percent increase in productivity. What does not amount to significant sums per unit, multiplied by the number of working hours per year, starts to create sums worth fighting for.
Similarly, we should calculate the cost of water management as a resource that is always present in processing stone. The use of municipal running water in an open system will prove unprofitable – this is a well-known fact. The simplest form of getting a closed circuit is to fill up settling tanks. Even if the water comes from a municipal network, it does not represent a major cost. But that’s where the positives end. After all, water circulating through the settling tanks is only cleaned of the largest impurities. Day by day, the water is becoming more a nd more dirty and is slowly turning into sludge. The quality of processing suffers, so do tools wear out and machines become less efficient. At some point, the reservoirs become so full of sludge that they no longer serve their purpose. The only option is to stop production and replace the water. This also involves costs: the plant has to stop production, a water tanker has to be paid for, people have to be assigned to manually remove the sludge or an excavator has to be hired. After cleaning, we flood the settling tanks with water again and there is it can go on again for a few, maybe more than ten, weeks.
But let’s sum up the costs. First of all: water, then a barrel truck, possibly an excavator. In addition, the exchange of which take several hours – production comes to standstill, workers have to be paid and impatient customers get annoyed. And then there is the steady wear and tear on tools and machines, the often poorer quality of machining, pumps that wear out quickly and clogged pipelines. And then there is the omnipresent sludge: on the machines, on the plates, on the plant premises and, when cleaning the settling tanks, usually also on the access road to the plant.
One way to eliminate – or reduce almost to zero – the costs mentioned above is to install closed-loop water filtration equipment. Filling the system is a one-off cost and it is, in principle, low. What is most important, however, is that water need not be replaced. Once filled, the system can be in operation for many months, often for years, with no loss in water quality.
Professional water treatment plants operate in an automatic system ensuring constant water quality in the plant, with 100% sludge separation. Sludge is compressed in a filter press or collects in special bags, so that its removal is trouble-free and does not require production to stop. This eliminates downtime for the cleaning and changing water. In addition, a water treatment plant takes up much less space than the settling tanks.
Clean water also means better quality of stone processing and a longer service life of tools and machinery. A clean environment in the hall, around the machines and in the yard, which is basically a natural consequence of working with clean water, cannot be underestimated. The water treatment plant makes it possible to completely avoid the problem with purity of processing water in a stone workshop.
No concrete money calculations have been given in this text and it has been done on purpose as the values of individual items may vary significantly depending on country and reagion as well as the specific situation of each plant. However, on the basis of the analyses performed, it can be clearly stated that the costs for the purchase and operation of the water treatment plant are fully recovered after about three years of operation. This is especially true if the size and parameters of the plant are adjusted to those of the plant in which it is to be used.
We have only touched upon the economic aspects of process water in the stone plant. However, it should also be mentioned that the use of water treatment plants guarantees compliance with the requirements of the Waste and Water Management Act by reducing water consumption and discharge of waste into the environment.
Source: Kurier kamieniarski
Author: Grzegorz Górski | Published: 22.9.2016