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CASE STUDY: The Timken Company

Pollution Prevention Application:
Annual Savings:
Payback Period:

Lincolnton, NC (Lincoln County)

Alloy Steel and Highly Engineered Bearings (SIC: 3562)
Packaging Redesign; Waste Separation and Recycling; Fuel
Substitution; Energy and Water Conservation
Not applicable
Ray Wallace, Facility Engineering Manager (704) 736-2773
Seriahana Walker (704) 736-2717


The Timken Company is a leading manufacturer of highly engineered bearings and

alloy steel with 146 plants, offices, and distribution centers in 24 countries. The
Lincolnton Bearing Plant (LBP) manufactures tapered roller bearings for heavy-duty
applications in truck, farm, and earth moving equipment. Steel tubes from
Timkens steel plants are brought to the Lincolnton facility where they are
machined, heat-treated, ground, and assembled.

Waste Reduction

The Timken Company prides itself on being an environmental leader. Timken has
implemented a continuous improvement program throughout the company to
improve efficiency and quality and reduce costs. The continuous improvement
program has also facilitated better environmental performance. The following
pollution prevention and waste minimization activities have been implemented at
Timken instituted a program to use returnable packaging for high volume
customers. The new returnable packaging utilizes a collapsible recyclable plastic
container. The protective inner packaging (reusable dunnage) is also saved, sent
back by customer, and reused for future shipments.
Waste Separation and Recycling
Oil used to lubricated the machine slides and to reduce die wear was sent to an
off-site reclaimer prior to 1997. LBP now cleans this oil using a filtering system
and sends it back to the process for reuse.

1997 Case Study

Over 27,000 gallons per year of spent grinding coolant was sent off-site for
further processing. LBP associates realized that this water-soluble grinding
coolant could be reused in the metal turning process, a process that can
tolerate a lesser quality coolant.

Prior to 1996, LBP used No. 6 oil as a backup boiler fuel supply. As another
waste minimization effort, LBP found out that on-site reclaimed oil had similar
characteristics to No. 2 oil and was cleaner burning than No. 6 fuel oil. The
reclaimed oil is now stored for use as a backup boiler fuel.

LBP also made improvement to the wastewater management system. After oil
skimming and ultrafiltration separation, the resulting 60 % water and 40% oil
SIC 3500 - p. _3_

mixture was shipped to a reclaimer. LBP implemented a process to heat this

mixture to allow further separation of the oil portion. This process
improvement reduced the amount of oily water mixture by 80,000 gallons per
Fuel Substitution
Prior to 1996, LBPs carburizing furnaces used toluene as a carbon source in the
furnace atmosphere. LBP redesigned the process to use natural gas, a less toxic
material, as the carbon source instead of toluene. Although the toluene was
consumed in the furnace, the risks associated with storing, handling, and using the
toxic material were eliminated.

Waste Reduced
and Annual

Table 1 shows the amount of waste reduced and the annual savings for each
pollution prevention activity implemented at the LBP:
Table 1: Waste Reduction and Savings Summary
Waste Reduced
Packaging redesign
Header machining oil
filtration and reuse
Grinding coolant reuse in
turning process
Use of residual oil as boiler
fuel backup
Improved oil separation
Bulk tote oil system
Elimination of Toluene in
Carburizing furnaces

Other Activities

140,250 lbs. cardboard

2,500 wood pallets
5,000 gallons of virgin oil
27,925 gallons oil
requiring treatment
16,000 gallons collected
for backup supply
80,000 gallons oily
wastewater reduced
720 gallon of inaccessible
oil, 360 steel drums
575,000 lbs. toluene use


2.45 years


2.1 years

$12, 336



11 years

A state-of-the-art heating, ventilation and air conditioning system was installed to

control plant temperature and humidity. The system successfully reduced energy
consumption by 1,251,000 kW in 1997. In the same year, modulating air
compressors were installed to lower the air pressure used plant-wide. The air
compressor modification reduced energy consumption by 625,000 kW and will
save over $50,000 per year.
The facility has reduced water consumption by installing foot-actuated valves in
water rinsing applications. The foot-actuated valves eliminate continuous water
flow and save 975,000 gallons per year. Additionally, numerous recycling
programs exist for non-production waste such as pallets, office paper, and
aluminum cans, as well as for production waste, such as scrap steel.
The Timken Company was recognized for Significant Achievement in the 1997
Governors Award for Excellence in Waste Reduction competition, in the Large
Business Category.

1997 Case Study

SIC 3500 - p. _4_