Customer Background and Incident
Starrag Inc. (Hebron, KY) is the U.S. distributor and showroom for Bumotec CNC machines. These machines make precision parts for aerospace, medical, and Swiss watchmaking industries. They use a variety of materials from ceramic to titanium. Because of the highly precise nature of these machines, they all run with oil-based coolant and have made Firetrace fire suppression systems a standard offering on all machines sold in the U.S.
As part of Starrag’s distribution model, their showroom has fully functioning machines that allow customers to “test” the machines by making parts in the showroom before they buy. The day the fire incident occurred, Hervé Ding, one of the applications engineers for Starrag, was machining a sample aerospace part from ceramic for a customer. While turning the parts, he walked away momentarily and came back to hear the alarm on the machine going off.
Save and Aftermath
Hervé was on his way back to the machine when he saw an orange flash that was immediately suppressed as the Firertace system deployed. The machine alarm was going off as the pressure switch engaged and shut down the machine and the coolant delivery.
After the fire suppression system went off, they inspected the machine and discovered the fire was a result of a part being moved out of position for proper grinding. When the grinding tool came in, it was shaving off too much of the part, causing sparks which ignited in the machine almost immediately. The installed Firetrace system deployed the suppression agent within seconds, saving the machine from any damage. A local distributor came out that day, and the machine was back up and running in less than three hours after the incident occurred.
Effect of Suppression System
Not only did the fire suppression system save the machine, which is an $800,000 asset, but it also saved the showroom. The most vital part of their distribution business. Starrag relies on having usable machines to demo and show its customers the capabilities to help them make decisions within the buying process.
Loss in Sales
After seeing the fire suppression work in the field, it was apparent why Starrag has Firetrace as a standard on all the machines they sell. This event occurred in an environment much less taxing and fast-paced than that of machines running in a machine shop. It goes to show that it only takes one spark to ignite the coolant, regardless of the environment the machine is running in.
“I was so grateful the Firetrace system was in place, these things [fires] always seem to happen as soon as nobody is around!”
– Hervé Ding, Applications Engineer
Starrag avoided costly repairs, injury, and loss of sales by having an automatic fire suppression system installed. This case shows how Firetrace systems can help save customers valuable time, money, and improve safety in their manufacturing businesses.