Stockholm, Sweden – An engineering group in mining and rock excavation, metal-cutting and materials technology, Sandvik consists of Austrian-based Wolfram Bergbau und Hütten AG, one of the world’s largest producers of tungsten. Wolfram is a strategically important part of the global group, as tungsten is a vital ingredient in Sandvik Coromant’s solid carbide tools, with estimated reserves of the materials around seven million tonnes or 100 years of consumption. Access to primary raw materials is key to maintaining Wolfram’s position, but the plant also invests in tools that are already created as well as recycling of post-consumer products and scrap.
Product Circularity Solution
As when Sandvik Coromant’s tools lose their cutting-edge properties, they are easily rendered unusable, but the materials used in the tools continue to be useful. From a green perspective, making new tools from recycled solid carbide requires 70 percent less energy and emits 40 percent less carbon dioxide, making production more sustainable. With the introduction of any new process, its success often boils down to its ability to meet the needs of the business. Adoption of Circular Economy addresses both global sustainability challenges while taking care of an issue that few customers desire to manage waste.
The Circular Economy is ‘a system in which material flows, defined as consisting of biological and “technical” nutrients that are designed to continue circulating at high quality, to re-enter the biosphere safely, thereby delivering value against the least amount of energy and physical resources’, defined by ClimateWorks Foundation, a public charity with a mission to discover best practice solutions that help organizations reduce carbon dioxide consumption. Monitoring the entire lifecycle of a product allows organizations to manage their assets more efficiently, like reviewing its costs, while also helping the customers who will benefit from selling used products, thus building a partnership with suppliers that does not cease after the completion of initial purchase.
Saving Cost & Environment
The Wolfram site has developed an in-house recycling process since 95 percent of a used carbide insert can be recycled where tungsten makes up around 75 per cent. Sandvik Coromant arranges the collection of the customer’s used carbide tools, before transporting them to the site. Where, the recycling managers carry out an X-ray fluorescence analysis using a scanning system, which determines the make-up of the received tools. After an initial crushing, the newly powdered tools form a carbide powder. This powder, then undergoes chemical purification, which helps to retrieve materials that have the same properties as the tungsten originally found in Wolfram’s mines. Furthermore, other retrieved elements like the cobalt, are sent to a third party for recycling. Carbide tools from all manufacturers are accepted into Sandvik Coromant’s recycling programme, regardless of scale, industry, or location.
Focusing on Tool life
The businesses must incorporate recycling into their asset management strategy to act as responsible partners. Most industries concerning drilling are interested in the longevity of tools from a cost-per-use perspective, but a long-lasting tool is also important for those wanting to extend product use from an environmental viewpoint.
Sandvik Coromant developed the latest addition to its product range, the CoroDrill® 860 with -GM geometry, with these considerations at the forefront. The tool is far less impervious to wear than its predecessor, all thanks to its advanced geometry and unique grade, which results in longer tool life. The reconditioning service by Sandvik Coromant optimizes tool life and performance, guaranteeing ultimate process protection as a new geometry. The CoroDrill 860-GM effectively supplies four tools in a single solution with a recommendation of three reconditions per tool. Hence, the tool can enter the Sandvik Coromant Recycling program, after the end of its life, delivering a financial return on the customer’s initial investment.
“Wolfram demonstrates that asset management doesn’t end after the purchase. Producers must consider the entire lifecycle of their products, both from a sustainability and profitability standpoint. While recycling schemes can reduce carbon output and strengthen customer relationships, producers should also consider the longevity of the tools they create, which will further boost the sustainability of a business,” explained Jill Glynn, Commercial Services Manager, Sandvik Coromant.
Image Source: Sandvik