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Holistic approach optimizes processes and tool life

Tools and instruments of the highest precision and durability are manufactured at the headquarters in Wasen andSumiswald (Copyright PB Swiss Tools).

Swiss tool and instrument manufacturer, PB Swiss Tools, and Blaser Swisslube agreed on a collaboration with ambitious goals in early 2019. By taking a holistic approach under the “Liquid Tool” banner and promoting a change of coolant, the aim was to optimize processes, increase tool life and reduce production costs. A test phase proved very successful, achieving the ambitious goals that had been set. Since then, the collaboration has been expanded to include further production processes.

What started with the production of nose rings for taming oxen in the village blacksmith’s shop in Wasen in Switzerland’s Emmental region, evolved over the years into a global and innovative company synonymous with tools and medical instruments that are unrivalled for their precision and durability: PB Swiss Tools. The tool manufacturer’s history can be traced all the way back to 1878. It has been manufacturing tools since 1940, and medical products since 2013. Today, specialists in more than 80 countries choose PB Swiss Tools when their work needs to meet the highest quality standards. 180 employees in Wasen and Sumiswald manufacture 12 million tools and instruments each year. More than two thirds of these are exported all over the world.

These tools and medical instruments from the Swiss Emmental are distributed to over 80 countriesworldwide, equipping production lines in a wide variety of areas, and provide valuable service in operatingtheaters (Copyright PB Swiss Tool)

Blaser brand ambassador, Titan Gilroy, and coolant Synergy 735 caught the attention of PB Swiss Tools representatives at the Prodex exhibition in Basel in 2019. PB Swiss Tools Production Manager, Patrick Gehrig, was particularly interested in the holistic approach taken by Blaser Swisslube, increasing productivity and optimizing costs through the use of the Liquid Tool. “A visit to PB Swiss Tools’ shop floor was arranged to discuss potential collaboration,” explains Hans-Peter Dubach, application engineer at Blaser Swisslube.

This visit was entirely consistent with the overall approach adopted by Blaser Swisslube: In addition to talks and discussions, all the production details were closely examined. Hans-Peter Dubach explains: “This includes an analysis of the water quality, the tools and machines used, as well as the materials processed. We looked at all the upstream and downstream processes and identified potential for optimization throughout: Machine cleanliness could be improved, and the lathes were oily and sticky. We also believed that we would be able to improve tool life.”

The experts at PB Swiss Tools set themselves the goal of optimizing processes, increasing tool life and reducing overall costs in collaboration with Blaser Swisslube.

Following on from the detailed analysis, Hans-Peter Dubach recommended using crystal-clear coolant Synergy 735. “This water-miscible and oil-free coolant allows for flawless surface quality, thanks to optimum additives. Rinsing behavior is excellent, and the machines and tool surfaces are easy to clean,” explains Hans-Peter Dubach. Synergy 735 also allows for a clear overview of the machining process and is characterized by a neutral odor and excellent skin compatibility. The minimal foaming means the coolant is also ideally suited to high-pressure systems.

Patrick Gehrig, Production Manager, and Hans Rudolf Mathys, Machining Team Lead, at PB SwissTools (Copyright PB Swiss Tools)

The improved cleanliness of the tools and machines convinced PB Swiss Tools (Copyright PB Swiss Tools).

Improved tool life

The new coolant was tested on an initial lathe over a period of three months in spring 2019. The results spoke for themselves: Tool life was increased by around 10 percent, with process reliability remaining at the same level. The top-up rate was almost halved, which had a positive impact on overall costs. Both tool and coolant costs could be reduced. All process times have been observed. What’s more, the improved cleanliness of the tools and machines was enough to convince the managers at PB Swiss Tools. Patrick Gehrig, Production Manager at PB Swiss Tools, is already looking to the future: “We rely on our coolant partner, Blaser Swisslube, and are committed to making continuous improvements in other areas.”

Following on from this successful collaboration, further processes have already been tackled, aiming to optimize their results. These include new grinding processes, use of cutting oils, the introduction of lubrication charts and streamlining of the range of lubricants. PB Swiss Tools and Blaser Swisslube will continue to strengthen their collaboration in future.

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