Customer Background and Incident
High Tech Quality Manufacturing (Salt Lake City, UT) manufactures medical parts and components using high speed, precision manufacturing methods with oil-based coolants to machine titanium. Due to the fire risk involved with oil-based coolants and titanium, the company had an automatic fire suppression installed six years ago on their six Citizen and four Tsugami machines.
The fire incident occurred on their Tsugami BO326 Swiss-Type Lathe after an operator changed a tool and it was not inserted properly into the machine. The drill bit was pushed too far in, and when the machine was restarted the titanium being machined hit the face of the collate holder. The friction caused the tool to spark three times and then it ignited the oil-based coolant.
Save and Aftermath
Once the oil in the machine ignited, the automatic fire suppression system responded within five seconds, which the owners of the shop were able to see on their CCTV cameras installed on the shop floor. Despite operators being present when the fire ignited, the suppression system installed had put out the fire before shop personnel even had time to react.
Once the system went off, the crew onsite made the decision to change the coolant after the clean agent discharged as they weren’t sure how it would affect the integrity of the coolant. The manufacturer then fixed the improper tool placement and disabled the pressure switch to get the machine back up and running within a few hours after the incident. However, the machine was running unprotected for a few days due to the manufacturer not having a spare cylinder on hand. They had to wait on local distribution to come out, change the cylinder, and recharge the system before they were running fully protected again.
Effect of Suppression System
High Tech Quality Manufacturing previously had a fire in their facility on one of their machines without fire suppression, which resulted in a three-day shut down of production. This cost the facility approximately $18k in downtime. An operator who was there had used a handheld extinguisher to put out the fire, but the chemical residue took over 6 hours to clean up. The air and boiler lines had melted, and parts had to be ordered from the manufacturer and replaced before they could get up and running again.
With a clean agent fire suppression system in place, it was a matter of hours, rather than days, before production was up and running again.
“I was happy it performed the way it was supposed to, I would have a lot of unhappy customers if the machine were to go down” – Dave Reynolds, Operations Manager
This machine shop avoided costly downtime, repairs, and injury with an automatic fire suppression system. This case shows how Firetrace systems can help save customers valuable time, money, and improve safety in their manufacturing businesses.