Although they're small, seals are an important part of many industrial machines. They also can be costly to repair. If your company uses seals in a manufacturing setting, you can save money on repairs by using bronze seals, instead of aluminum ones.
The True Cost of Repairing Seals
Seals themselves are inexpensive parts -- especially when compared to the large tanks, long arms and complex electronics some industrial machines have. Even when a broken seal can't be repaired, a new one won't cost too much. Thus, the cost of repairing a seal may seem minimal, possibly even insignificant.
The true cost of fixing a seal, however, lies in how long it takes to replace a broken seal and the lost productivity during that time. Seals are usually located inside machines. When a seal breaks, the only way to reach it is often by taking the machine apart. This often take a long time, during which your company is incurring the following costs:
- the lost opportunity cost of stalled production
- the wages of technicians fixing the broken seal
- the wages of employees who would normally be working with the machine or the components it produces
When all of these items are added up, a broken seal that only costs a few dollars can make your company lose hundreds, or even thousands of dollars, an hour. The exact cost of repairing a seal will depend on the role of the machine that has a broken seal and how busy your manufacturing facility is. It won't be cheap, though.
The Benefit of Aluminum Seals
Aluminum seals generally have one clear benefit over bronze seals: Aluminum seals cost less. At the time of writing, InfoMine listed the current price of aluminum at $0.691 per pound. Copper, which Metal Supermarkets notes is the main component of bronze, was listed just under $2.90 per pound on InfoMine. Because copper costs over three times as much as aluminum, seal suppliers are able to offer aluminum seals at a much lower price than bronze ones.
The difference in the cost is negligible, however, because the price of a seal is only a small portion of how much replacing a seal costs your company. Most of the true cost comes from lost productivity and wages.
The Benefits of Bronze Seals
Over the long term, bronze seals will cost your company less money than aluminum ones, because they're more durable and easier to repair. Bronze seals have two specific advantages over aluminum seals.
First, bronze can withstand higher temperatures than aluminum. WikiHow lists aluminum's melting point is 1,220°F. The specific melting point of a bronze alloy will depend on its chemical composition, but bronze tends to have a melting point around 1,800°F according to Darrell Markewitz. In a manufacturing setting that regularly sees high temperatures, the additional 600°F can make a significant difference in a seal's life span.
Second, because bronze has a higher melting point, it's easier to weld. The high temperatures used in welding can weaken aluminum, as WeldingTipsandTricks.com points out. Bronze is better able to withstand welding temperatures, possibly allowing your technicians to weld a broken seal. If a seal can be welded, you won't have to wait while a new one is ordered.
Installing bronze seals, rather than aluminum ones, in your manufacturing facility's machines will reduce breakdowns and repair costs. You might have to pay a little more up front for bronze seals, but they're better suited for the demands of an industrial setting. They'll more than make up for their higher price by keeping your machines running well.
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