When it comes time to look at a more automated process for your cleaning there are so many options available, make sure you are considering the following for the most bang for the buck. If price is the only driving factor, you are setting yourself up for disappointments! Instead consider the best value overall.
Many types of cleaning equipment exist, such as cabinets, conveyors, immersion and inline washers, in batch or continuous processes. Each style can offer benefits depending on your production rates needed and before and after processes. However, no matter the overall goals several things are consistent and should be considered.
Volume and Pressure– The flow (GPM) and pressure (PSI) play an essential role in cleaning. For most new manufacturing applications where the contaminants to be removed are loose chips and coolant, a pump pressure between 30 to 60 psi can get the job done. For remanufacturing applications, more pump pressure, can improve the machine cleaning ability. Higher pressure designs can also lead to more clogs and increased machine maintenance. The pumps flow (GPM), combined with exposure time and temperature, allows the detergent to dissolve the grease and other contaminants from the part surface.
Time – How much time will it take to get the parts clean. This is an important consideration. I have worked with many customers who like the idea of pass-through machines but due to limited shop space the pass-through design does not allow for a long enough cycle time. For batch systems how many parts will need to be loaded at a time to allow enough cleaning time and meet needed production rates.
Tank Design – This is an important consideration as it can affect solution changes and clean out, which are some of the more costly maintenance tasks. You tank size can also lead to foaming issues. If the tank is too small, it can result in dirty solution which will reduce the washer’s results. If it’s too big the operation costs can climb. You will want the proper insulation on the tank to prevent the loss of heat and lead to higher energy costs. On a pass-through design the vestibules need to be large enough for water containment.
Heating Methods – Electric or Gas? An electric heating system has a lower upfront cost but over the long term can prove to be more costly to operate than a gas heating system. Gas can more easily maintain its heat so for excessively greasy parts this can aid in the cleaning process. Make sure you are running the temperature at an approved rate of the machine capabilities to avoid leaking of seals, cracked nozzles and premature pump burn out. Also, how long will it take the machine to heat to proper temperature, as you don’t want to be standing around waiting losing hours in your day.
Construction – Carbon steel can provide many years of life in a washer however depending on the chemicals used stainless steel might be required to avoid excessive corrosion and rust. Stainless steel provides better corrosion resistance across a broader pH range – from mildly acidic to highly caustic. Although it will be more costly upfront, the life expectation of Stainless vs Carbon is usually well worth the added costs. A more durable machine construction can also absorb noise and vibrations. And weight of parts you are cleaning should always be considered.
Filtration – There are many options available when looking at filtration. Proper filtration can extend the life greatly of a machine and lower everyday maintenance costs. Don’t skimp on the proper filtration. Whether removing chips or grease, the options are available. Water disposal also needs to be considered. Oil skimmers, canister filtration, sludge drag, and water treatments can play a huge role in effectiveness of the washer and life of the machine.
Automation and Handling – Fixturing can be a huge help in ensuring a part is properly placed to reach all the nooks and crannies. Some parts need a tumbling action to provide the best coverage, while others can remain stationary on a table or belt. Consider your before and after process to cleaning to reduce additional handling, there are many ways to automate the flow of the parts to avoid having to load and unload manually. Will the parts be cool to the touch upon exit to allow for handling should also be considered.
Considerations should include:
- Material composition of the part to be cleaned. Type of materials and thickness.
- Design of the part(s). Complex or simple, is there a lot of diversity in parts.
- Size and weights of the part(s).
- Characteristics of grime that you want to remove. Disposal requirements of the waste.
- Level of cleanliness required. Are there specifications that need to be met.
- How many parts need to be cleaned a day.
- What happens to the parts before and after cleaning.
Keep in mind regular and thorough cleaning will add years to the life of your washer. And all washers are NOT created equal.
It is all about finding the right recipe to deliver the desired results. Get an expert involved. We often take barely used machines on trade cause the machine did not match the process and a bad decision was made without consulting an expert. Sometimes a flow through washer does not allow enough exposure time and a batch system is more effective. Don’t get caught in a misinformed purchase. LS Industries has been designing washers for over 45 years to meet the needs of the dirtiest of jobs.
Happy Washing! We would love to help you find the best solution to fit your needs and budgets.