STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. - When Sterling’s Department 48 (a machining department that prepares tubes for the F-150 axle) was dealing with an ongoing faulting issue with their coolant tanks, the team came up with a few plans to combat the problem.
Leaks were causing hydraulic fluid to build up in coolant tanks, making machines fault and production to stop.
The team’s first action involved draining the eight 200-gallon tanks – resulting in additional downtime and the cost of coolant to refill each tank.
Due to the density of the hydraulic fluid, it surfaces at the top of the tank, which led the team to brainstorm ideas around how they were going to remove this fluid efficiently and cost effectively.
Dave Gilliam, 2nd shift jobsetter for the department, beat them to the punch. One day when Gilliam was hand skimming the tank, he came up with an idea to install drains near the top of the tank.
This solution would allow for a tank to fill to a certain point before an employee would then have to open a valve, draining only the fluid at the top of the tank.
This process successfully drains all hydraulic fluid, eliminating downtime and the cost of new coolant to refill the tank.
So far, this new drain has been installed in one of the eight coolant tanks in the department and the team is in the process of installing the same drain on the remaining tanks.
Gilliam’s idea has resulted in a cost reduction for the department and for the plant.