The workshop of a forging unit is largely made up of semi-automatic, automatic and robotic systems used in the manufacturing processes which also generate large amounts of dust, graphite deposits, soot, heat… Talking about the various areas that require cleaning in particular in a factory like Bharat Forge, Mukund Mavalankar has identified four major areas in the Mundhawa works – office space, shop floors (machine area / Forging area), roads and the rest of the grounds.
Shop floor area
“Until last year, we engaged in manual cleaning, but now we have several cleaning machines, especially for the machine components area. Initially, our trained staff operated the walk-behind single disc and ride on scrubber-dryer, but now we have outsourced cleaning services to Forbes Facility Services Pvt Ltd, mainly to reduce the workforce engaged in this operation,” said Mavalankar.
By improvising the methods and tools of cleaning at the shop floor, around 22 people who were involved in the cleaning operation in one shop have now been reduced to 14. “One of the major cleaning jobs in the shop floor involves removing ironoxide scales from the floor. We provided the cleaning staff tilting bins whereby instead of carrying barrels of scales it could be lifted with a forklift.”
In the forging process, when the metal comes in contact with air, it forms ironoxide and falls on the floor. In each shop, Bharat Forge generates about three tonnes of scales every day and is sold off in the local market. These scales absorb coolant/die lubricant and water used in the production process.
Industrial cleaning equipment play a vital role in not only collecting metal chips/scales but also in filtering and recycling water for reuse in the production process. In order to get the best of using a ride-on scrubber, industry experts have advised to choose the model based on the specifications that are required to cover an average shop floor area.
In another move to keep the shop floor area clean, Bharat Forge is planning to purchase a ride-on sweeper and a scrubber dryer. “The ride-on sweeper will be deployed for daily sweeping and the scrubber dryer will be utilised once a week or for deep cleaning. “We have found that using scrubber dryer everyday causes considerable degradation of shop floor and the cost of consumables is high. A single operator can be trained to do both jobs effectively. We are looking for a sweeper, equipped with high dump in the front so that the operator need not get down to empty the dust.
“We first looked at Commander machines but they do not have separate sweepers and scrubber. Comac has a separate sweeper and scrubber. Hence, after the initial clean up of 10 days, we would not need to use the scrubber more often and the sweeper, which is easier to operate and manoeuvre in multi-direction in daily cleaning.
“We had tried a couple of vacuum machines from Delstar but were not satisfied with the results. Now, having seen the operations of the ride-on sweeper, which is effective in clearing all the dust on the roads, we are sure it will work well indoors too.”
Industrial equipment were equipped with plain filters, which would cause a filter choke up problem frequently. But, now they come with vibrators which shake the dust into the hopper.
“We are looking for industrial vacuum cleaners that can take care of the dry dust generated at our die shop. We have six two stations where we do welding and gouging of the dies and six stations for manual polishing. Earlier, we did try installing a centralised vacuum cleaner at the die shop with six grinding and polishing stations. We put in place a blower and suction facility but it did not work out well.”
One of the messy areas in a forge shop floor is the pit of the Power Press where scales, coolant water, graphite… get collected. This black slurry was previously handled by Forbes Facility manually. It was a messy operation where workers had to get down into knee deep muck to scoop out the slurry. “But now we have fitted the pits with slurry pumps to suck out the slurry into a common pit fitted with a centrifuge which separates the solids. The clean water is then sent to the ETP plant for further purification.”
“We have engineered the Centrifuge with McNally and Maggor. All the pit cleaning will be through high pressure pumps which will carry the slurry to the Centrifuge, the water will flow back to the ETP and the solid waste will be discarded in a dump which will be put on a trailer in a fully automated operation.”
In the next level of automated cleaning, Bharat Forge opted for deploying road sweeping machines for its outer premises. “Roots Multiclean recommended Commander 9X Sweeper for this operation. We inspected the machine at its manufacturing unit and also visited its client in Nashik where this machine is in operation for over four years now. We have one sweeper covering an area of 36,000sqm in about six hours. It is almost a year since we bought the machine and we are satisfied with the equipment, especially because of its ruggedness. Previously we were employing 12 contract personnel for sweeping the roads, we now have one operator on the ride on doing the work.”
Mostly the dust generated in such manufacturing units is of fine quality. A road sweeper put in operation, thus should specifically meet the requirement of not just collecting the dust but retaining it. In order to cover an area of 36,000sqm, as in Bharat Forge, the main specifications that the user needs to look at is the area the machine is able to cover per hour, the hopper size, filtration system, and other details like engine power, sweeping width, number of brushes, suction capacity among others.
Area Covered: For an area of 36,000sqm operation, the machine should have a running of at least 6000sqm/hour.
Hopper size: The size could be between 300lt to 400lt.
Filtration system: The concept of filters, which is constantly subject to innovation, comes in various specifications to suit the quality of dust it is supposed to absorb. In case of fine dust, the possibility of choke ups is much higher if the filter is not suitable for dust collection. There are filters with good capacity to collect dust even to 0.1micron and also retain it.
In yet another innovation, these machines come with vibrators to ensure the dust collected get into the hopper and the environment is free of dust.
Suction power: This is directly related to the filter. If a machine has a higher suction power the filters should have the capacity to retain them.
One common area that needs special attention, be it the administrative block or the shop floor area, is the washroom. Most manufacturing units employ contract labourers besides their own staff. Training and spreading awareness on the proper use of toilets is an on-going process.
Some of the common issues in such units are choking of the drain pipes and urinals, staining of walls with dust residue, disposal of cotton waste used for wiping in the shop floor, etc. “Workers have to be constantly educated on not to spit paan and tobacco in the urinals, to use the dustbins to dispose cotton waste and to use the special industrial hand gel provided for washing their hands.” Stained hands need special care and the industrial hand gel (orange base) has a light abrasive to remove the dirt effectively and is also soft on the hand.
While workers are now using the gel directly from the container, Bharat Forge is planning to fit dispensers and suitable sensor/elbow operated taps in order to provide a hygienic washroom for its workers. Out of the 40 washrooms in the premises, each shop floor unit has two washrooms which are fitted with at least 10 urinals and wash stations with 10 taps. “We have around 60 people working on each shift. So we have put black granite in the wash area and black vitrified tiles on the floors of the washrooms. Earlier, Forbes was using high pressure jets to clean the washrooms but we found that the edging of the tiles were getting damaged in the process of cleaning. Hence, we discontinued using high pressures.”
The flooring at the shop floor is mostly 300mm vacuum degassed RCC. “But they do get damaged as we are dealing with hot metal.”
Mukund Mavalankar, who is in charge of two shops which is as good as two big factories, is positive that with the new mechanised cleaning equipment in place, the work area will induce more productivity. “We don’t want to hire an army of people to clean but automate cleaning with limited operators to increase productivity.”
Cotton seamless knitted gloves made from natural cotton have over locked edges and are elasticized at the bottom for covering wrist. The gloves are available in various sizes and thickness, as per the industry specific requirements. “Cotton gloves provide better grip, as we deal with metal. In areas where chemicals are involved we provide the workers latex gloves,” said Mavalankar. Gloves ensure the safety and hygiene aspects.
Bharat Forge provides three cotton knitted gloves per week per worker. Hence, one unit with 350 workers (three shifts) consumes around 54,600 pairs of gloves per annum. The Indian forging industry which has a workforce of around 200,000, would alone consume 31.2 million cotton gloves per annum.