Revolutionising the machinery industry

Gnosjö Automatsvarvning has initiated a three-year pilot project together with Swerea IVF, Chalmers University of Technology, KTH Royal Institute of Technology and the Sahlgrenska Academy to explore how vegetable oils could replace mineral oils in the machinery industry. 

– The goal is to reduce the use of chemicals in day-to-day operations by using only renewable oil, without compromising on quality and precision. So during the test period, we need to ensure that the oil does not affect the machinery, production or earnings before we make a decision, says Linda Fransson, CEO of Gnosjö Automatsvarvning.

Gnosjö Automatsvarvning has 40 machines that get their oil from a central system containing around 50 cubic metres of mineral oil. During the autumn, one of the machines will be disconnected in order to perform tests using vegetable oil in a confined environment. Chalmers University of Technology is collaborating in this project to evaluate and analyse the cutting tests while Swerea IVF together with an undergraduate from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology will conduct a life-cycle analysis to assess the environmental impact.

As a first step they will compare how the oils perform separately by evaluating the results from manufacturing through to washing and the final product. In the next step, they will gradually mix the mineral oil with vegetable oil to evaluate how the oils work together. If this works, the plan is to phase out mineral oil in the central system.

– We have a cutting oil that works just fine. But there’s always something that can be done to improve your product development and reduce your ecological footprint. Moving away from an oil which is finite to an oil which is renewable would be positive for both the industry and the environment, says Linda.

One of the key benefits is in the work environment. By using a vegetable-based, cleaner oil, the annoying oil mist is reduced significantly.

– One of the biggest reasons is, of course, to look after our employees. Although Sweden is really very good at legislating this, I don’t think we should sit back and rely on legislation that already exists or wait for the next law. Instead we should be proactive, exert our influence and pursue our own development, Linda continues.

The pilot project is part of the Testbädd project that is exploring future processing fluids within sustainable production, run by Swerea IVF and funded by Vinnova. Eva Troell, project manager at Swerea IVF, takes a positive view of the development of the project.

– The aim is to ensure that vegetable oil works as well as or better than mineral oil in the production environment. Once the project is complete, Gnosjö Automatsvarvning will have all the information and documentation it needs to be able to make a decision, concludes Eva.

If Gnosjö Automatsvarvning decides to replace mineral oil with vegetable oil, it could revolutionise the whole machinery industry.