Filtration Experts

Barnes International
Written by William Young

Barnes International, Inc. refers to themselves as “your machine tool filtration experts.” It is clear why as they have been in business for over 110 years, building filtration equipment for machine tools of various types (grinding, milling, cutting, etc.) and of various sizes (from 10 gallons per minute to 20,000 gallons per minute).
Barnes is headquartered in Rockford, Illinois with another manufacturing plant in Bowling Green, Ohio, Henry Filters. Together, they are the largest manufacturer of machine tool filter systems in North America. The Rockford facility houses 150,000 square feet of fabrication and assembly space with 12 high-bay assembly bays while the Bowling Green facility houses 80,000 square feet and 36 high-bay cranes. Both also include 2D and 3D workstations.

In addition to the two manufacturing plants, this company also maintains service and engineering centers throughout the world. In the North American market, there are centers throughout Mexico and the United States. Barnes’ manufacturing capabilities not only include fabrication and assembly of full systems but also the assembly of the plumbing and electrical components used in those systems.

Keeping coolant clean is a high priority for manufacturers as unfiltered coolant can plug lines which increases down time, and affect product tolerance/quality which affects the condition of the machine tool, resulting in shorter coolant life. When companies are typically using tens of thousands of gallons of coolant during daily manufacturing operations, finding a way to ensure that the coolant they consume remains properly filtered is essential. Barnes can help companies ensure this while also allowing the recycling of metal waste and substantially reducing their overall cost of manufacturing.

There are many options for products that this company offers which include: deep bed gravity filters, vacuum media filters, pressure filters, rotary drum filter conveyors, bag filters, high-pressure skids and magnetic coolant separators. These are used in conjunction with grinding, honing, machining, turning and other operations in a variety of industries such as automotive, steel, off road, medical and aerospace manufacturing.

“These companies are producing machined parts, such as engine components, that are often running around the clock which pushes their equipment to the maximum,” President William Kirchner says. “Our systems are the heart of the whole machine bay; without proper filtration pressure and coolant temperature control, the whole manufacturing facility is at risk.”

To combat this risk, all products undergo various levels of testing to ensure quality standards are met. Barnes is one of the few manufacturers that do a full wet test on their equipment. This testing process includes: pressure testing for leaks, running conveyors multiple times, component testing, pre-shipping reviews and testing during installation.

The Barnes key to success is their ability to rapidly customize filtration designs to fit any machine tool produced worldwide. They also can deliver in as little as four to six weeks in small or large quantities, all at a competitive price. All of this would not be possible without their key group of suppliers that they rely on for the best components in the industry. Any filter project is going to require a great deal of parts and materials and it is crucial to have that strong relationship with suppliers to get the materials needed to create the best product and experience possible for the customer. Barnes relies on vendors all over the world and Kirchner says that their support is invaluable in producing the best product for the customer.

Barnes International is a company that prides themselves in their employees and customers. They have learned over the years that you become number one by valuing your customers and your employees while also providing the best product and support possible. “Our quality system is based on individual teams and processes but, as a whole, our organization is focused on building the best possibly product, right down to the individual level,” Kirchner says.

Their team of technicians possesses more than 1,000 years of filtration experience combined and their manufacturing employees are regularly trained and coached to improve their output quality. Since the filtration industry is one that is built on relationships, they also understand the need for a solid approach to customer service. Barnes has sold over 40,000 units over the years to a diverse clientele, but what never changes is the need for a great support system. Kirchner says that to grow your market share, you need to offer the best support possible and communicate that to your customers, which is exactly what the Barnes team specializes in.

The staff’s experience is often called upon by large manufacturers including General Motors (GM). Historically GM had very large, inflexible central systems in coolant bays, extensive large structures to support piping required in ground troughs with little flexibility of the manufacturing floor. Barnes helped develop regional (above-ground) filtration systems for GM which can be much more easily installed and redeployed. “We worked closely with GM to develop the technical specifications for these systems, which have reinvented the way the automotive industry approached coolant systems,” Kirchner states. The capability of a moveable system gave GM greater flexibility in its operations and has reduced the company’s coolant consumption and scrap while greatly reducing installation and start-up time.

In 2009, the industry, which included GM, was concerned about the health of all key technologies that supported the North American automotive industry. To address this concern, GM committed to buying all its coolant filtration equipment from one supplier with a three-year agreement. This agreement would mean that the supplier would hold pricing for three years and GM would share knowledge of programs and requirements over the following three years for planning purposes.

Barnes was able to secure this contract and the partnership has thrived, allowing continual improvement of the equipment and essentially holding the pricing for years. This has been extended to over seven years total. This type of partnership is something that was unheard of in the last 50 years but has been proven, time and time again, to benefit both GM and Barnes immensely. Through all of this, Barnes was recently awarded General Motors Supplier of the Year.

As Barnes International looks to the future, they see the filtration of solids from liquids as a global concern and there are many opportunities to market filtration throughout all industries. Water is a precious commodity, and Barnes has the technology to provide separation of solids from waters for all different applications. They are thus looking to provide their expertise to all major industries worldwide and as they continue to seek those opportunities, they are constantly growing through remaking themselves.

“Our long-term strategy is to continue to build our sales base within the industry while looking for additional companies that would add technology or products to our base,” Kirchner says. Barnes International prides themselves on being machine tool filtration experts and could be yours.



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