Thoughts on Housekeeping

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Recently I saw an online job posting for an aluminum extrusion roller operator, and one of the key qualifications for the position was that the applicant should keep a “clean and organized work place for every project”.  It got me thinking about what housekeeping meant growing up as far as clean rooms and desks requested by parents, teachers and eventually bosses. However, after working at a manufacturer for decades and touring extrusion facilities; it now brings to mind serious concerns for safety, the environment and product quality.

Safety – There are a myriad of potential accidents waiting to happen if equipment and facilities are not properly maintained.   Just to name a few areas that could spell accidents would be walkways and common areas not being kept clean and open, the dust off buffing machines and other finishing equipment not being properly controlled to prevent explosions and oil applied too liberally to machines through operature misuse or leaks.  Speaking of oil, I almost landed flat on the floor at one extruders due to a large spill.  Fortunately, a co-worker noticed the spill first and warned me in time to avoid.

Another safety concern at extruders is the hot extrusions themselves.  With the exit temperature off the press in the neighborhood of 1000°F, and the cooling down time being considerable; it is not surprising that burns can be common.  I have heard of people touching extrusions along the cooling process as they believed the product looked cool. This is in part due to lack of process knowledge, but also these cooling extrusions should not be located where workers or visitors could inadvertently back or walk into them.

Environment – There is great concern for our environment.  By using high temperature fabrics in the handling of extrusion profiles, whether it be strips, pads, rollers or sleeves; there is less waste than using cardboard or graphite as the fabric products can be reused over an extended period of time before they need to be replaced.   Also, they do not create a housekeeping nightmare like graphite does.  Turning off lights and switching off cooling fans on the extrusion lines when not in use are just a few other housekeeping tips to save on energy and the environment.

Product Quality – It is possible that poor housekeeping could result in dirt, dust and other inclusions making their way into the furnance and billets as well as cooling extrusions.  I have witnessed an irate maintenance manager showing perplexed sales people small bits of exploded belting which had flown all over their plant and up to the rafters.   He wrongly believed that the failed product was one which the sales people had supplied when in fact it was a competitor’s product.  Typically high temperature fabric handling products are utilized in extrusion plants to improve the finish and quality of the extrusions, not to detract from them.

Housekeeping is not just a virture but needs to be a top priority for the smooth and successful operation of every plant.

– Sue Johnson
Albarrie – Head Office

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