Part of US-headquartered Fortune 200 ITW, Leeds-based Rocol traces its history back to 1878 as the Ragosine Oil Company [of Leeds] Ltd – hence, Rocol. This year, the 130-employee company revealed its new brand image
, unveiled in January, and which is being rolled out during this year. But the company's focus remains premium products.
Image: Rocol's Leeds factory sporting the new brand and tag line
Rocol has five sectors of business: maintenance lubricants; metalworking lubricants; defence and aerospace; gas and plumbing; and site safety signs. Machinery readers will know the company best for the second of these, which constitutes some 35 per cent of its business. As UK sales manager, metalworking lubricants Jason Mann explains, Rocol supplies premium products that deliver savings to its customers: selling on performance, not price. "Our customers themselves operate in high value areas, so they appreciate what we offer and we work in partnership with them." Many of the company's customers fall within the automotive, medical, aerospace and oil and gas sectors, in fact.
But on premium products and cost, it should be noted that for its non-hand-applied soluble oils, a top-up dilution ratio of 40:1 typically operates (90 per cent of fluid use is top-up, says Rocol), this comparing to others' 20-25:1, so a litre-to-litre cost comparison can be misleading, it is suggested. And Rocol offers direct support to all its customers, no matter what their size, what sector they operate in or from whom the product was purchased, it is emphasised.
The company has 24 metalworking products. Its frontline range – aerosol or squeeze bottle delivery – is sold through distributors. Its established, hand-applied RTD range (reaming, tapping, drilling) is said to have half of the 'hand-applied' market, particularly in the UK, says Mr Mann, and is again sold through distributors. "We see a lot more growth for this product, particularly as UK manufacturing industry has seen a lot of low-cost manufacture move overseas. The cost of breaking a tap in a part that may have a value of £1,000s offsets any extra cost in going for a high performance metalcutting fluid."
The company' large pack metalcutting/metalforming soluble oils, representing some 75 per cent of its metalworking fluids business, are supplied in large drums, direct or via distributor, under four key brand – Ultracut, Utraform (automotive focused), Utragrind and TRI-Logic. "It's all about performance and life; we don't use any recycled oils, everything is pristine – we don't cut any corners, because in a premium brand, it would soon show up," Mr Mann emphasises.
Image: Mixing product at Rocol's Leeds headquarters
While Ultracut and Ultraform, for example, are cutting fluids, TRI-Logic is a system involving cutting fluids and slideway oil
. It is an idea that was born some eight years ago and is focused on prolonging metalworking fluid life, as Mr Mann explains. "The nemesis of cutting fluids is bacteria. They affect the emulsifiers that allow oil and water to mix; they attack corrosion inhibitors, so components and machines may then rust; they produce bad smells and, in high quantity, are a health and safety issue, causing dermatitis, for example." But, to grow, bacteria need food, and the majority of that comes in the form of slideway oil. Probably 80 per cent of machine tools in the UK have a total-loss system, he underlines, with it ending up in the sump, floating on the surface. One bacteria will become 8 million in 24 hours, Mr Mann advises.
"There is an inherent problem built in to most machine tools, so we looked at how we could stop that from happening. The key problem is slideway oil, so we put an antimicrobial into it, which makes it unattractive to bacteria, so they don't multiply. In addition, the cutting fluid is made from 'biologically hard' products which additionally are bacteria unfriendly." There is also a TRI-Logic RTD product (hand applied), which emulsifies within the coolant (as opposed to falling to the bottom of the coolant tank) and is claimed to actually reinforce flood coolant's performance. The TRI-Logic system is patented; indeed is, claims Mr Mann: "the only patented metalcutting fluid system on the market today".
Within the TRI-Logic system, there are six ranges, all tagged 'maximum life', but with a different focus: ML, maximum life standard; ALX, roll tapping; EP, extreme pressure; BF, boron-free; AL, aluminium applications; and FE, ferrous applications.
PRODUCTS AND SERVICE
Beyond the supply of product or systems, however, there is service, because, as Chris Pugh, technical services manager, underlines: "No matter how good your product is, if the customer doesn't do the right things with it, there can be problems." Rocol's answer to that is its Ultracare programme, which takes care of the supply and management of metalworking fluids. "It is part of the overall package that will allow customers to achieve savings of up to 40 per cent through reduced fluid use, improved cutting tool life, minimised machine downtime, reduced volume of fluid going to disposal. For our target customer, this is the most comprehensive package available on the market."
Based on the supply of Rocol products as a given, the first element of the Ultracare programme is a free machine shop survey, which is, according to Mr Pugh, the first time that many companies will have seen their total cutting fluid spend and associated costs all in one place, with this highlighting the potential for savings offered by a move to Rocol.
Once a package of oils is chosen and supplied, a Rocol Ultracare service engineer will call in at a frequency of anywhere from every two weeks to every two months to check and monitor fluid condition, offer advice if they note things that aren't being done as they should be, and ensure maximum benefit is gained from the Rocol products.
"If any problems do occur, Rocol will analyse what has happened and why. Operator training, either informal onsite training or offsite at Rocol's premises, is another service provided within Ultracare. Rocol has some 200 customers using its Utracare service.
As an addition to Ultracare, Rocol will additionally undertake to manage HSE compliance – latest HSE guidelines are detailed in COSSH Essentials MW5. The HSE compliance element takes in: regular dipslide testing; dilution control; pH testing; tramp oil monitoring; advice and remedial action where required; and recording of results. Rocol has half a dozen companies taking this additional service, the smallest being a medical focused company having just half a dozen machines.
Three years after changing to Master Chemical's TRIM C270
, Sauer Danfoss is claiming a reduction in downtime of between 15 – 20 per cent coupled with a 25 per cent cut in fluid consumption. The change to TRIM followed low sump life and odour problems when machining milling, drilling and grinding of hydraulic pump cast iron covers. Success here saw TRIM C270 applied across the entire machine shop, with it now also recommended to all group manufacturing sites.
is the distributor of the DPI range of oil-free, SKV metalworking fluids. This technology allows modern machine tools to operate at optimum performance, without resorting to the use of oils, solvents or petroleum-based products for cutting fluids. These biodegradable, ester-based, cutting fluids are said to offer numerous benefits, but of particular interest is the fact that users only require one base fluid for all metalcutting applications. The same fluid that is used for turning and milling can, with the simple addition of an anti-foaming additive, be used for grinding.
Article first published in Machinery, April 2009