MecWash: Technology Meets Chemistry

Technology Meets Chemistry – Why Having the Right Balance is Critical for Component Cleaning

When it comes to the cleaning of engineered components it’s often considered that the physical washing machine is the only important part of the process. Cleaning additives and detergents are merely a supporting element.

For MecWash, one of the leading innovators and manufacturers of aqueous parts cleaning systems, the approach has to be about three crucial elements: the technology, the chemistry and the product that is being cleaned.

“It’s quite easy for a company to go out and acquire a washing system without understanding the importance not only of the chemicals required, but the impact they can have on the substrate of the component being cleaned,” according to John Pattison, Managing Director of MecWash based in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire.

“It’s not just about knowing what contaminants have to be removed. The combination of an intense washing system with an inappropriate mix of chemicals and detergents could damage the substrate and lead to the cleaned component’s failure.”

MecWash has invested heavily in its own laboratory at its headquarters to develop, design and formulating chemicals for common and bespoke component cleaning applications.

So how does the process work?

MecWash works with a customer to understand the type of components being cleaned and what results are required. Analysis and trials then allows the correct wash process and chemistry to be defined.

The process begins with an audit of the customer’s cleaning requirements. This is thorough and covers key areas including:

  • The substrate of the components being cleaned
  • Are the components metallic, non-metallic or hybrid?
  • What is the type of contamination?
  • Do the components need to be brightened as well as cleaned?
  • Are the components as cast, machined, polished or a combination?
  • The geometry of the components and critical features
  • What is the cleanliness specification?
  • What is the process directly before the wash process?
  • What is the process directly after the wash process?
  • Does the component need to have any long-term corrosion protection after the wash process?
  • What is the size and weight of the components?

 Physical analysis is also undertaken. This includes:

  • Chemical compatibility with substrate
  • Removal of contamination from the component’s surface
  • Removal of the contamination from the process solutions
  • Millipore testing
  • Gravimetric analysis
  • Surface energy tests (eg water break)
  • Visual inspection or bespoke tests.

“The process is intense and thorough. It has to be to ensure the complete system and process will remove the contaminants to the highest levels possible without damaging the components during or after the washing process,” said Mr Pattison.

“It could take days or months, depending on the type of product or process and the end results required by our client and their customers. Manufacturers in the aerospace, automotive, fluid power and medical sectors are ever more demanding.”

Adapting to a client’s needs

MecWash continues to work with a client long after a chemical solution has been identified.

“We have to work hand-in-hand with a client as their products can change, or the manufactured make-up of the product could alter,” added Mr Pattison.

“Our customers are dynamic in their approach to manufacturing and we have a flexible approach in order to continuously optimize their processes, even if the machine has been on site for several years.”

New processes and technology

Changing processes and new technology has seen the washing process change over the years. The design of the washing systems and the evolution of chemicals has increased the ability of such systems to remove contaminants to a fraction of what they were capable of 10 or 20 years ago.

Hellerman Tyton is one of MecWash’s customers who have benefited from the skilled work of the laboratory team.

The cable management solutions specialist now achieves high quality component cleaning, within strict temperature constraints.

The company uses a MecWash Midi wash system with an integrated Aqua-Save waste water recycling system at its production centre in Devon. The cleaning system has been configured to wash a temperature sensitive plastic component, while avoiding the risk of product shrinkage.

Lina Ficken, Engineer Team Leader, at Hellerman Tyton, said: “It’s important that, following the expansion process, mouldings are comprehensively cleaned before further handling and assembly processes, not least to remove a silicone coating used during the manufacturing process.

“Our customers apply the cable protection systems on site via the application of heat which shrinks them into position – temperature is clearly a factor that needs to be tightly controlled during manufacturing,” she adds.

“MecWash have been able to configure the cleaning system so that wash temperatures are held at no more than 40°C, which in conjunction with the tailored AC33 chemical solution that the company was able to develop for us, ensures that all material leaves the cleaning process in the optimum condition.”

John Pattison of MecWash added: “MecWash worked closely with the Hellerman Tyton team for many months, developing the AC33 chemical, which is formulated to clean the plastic components effectively at low temperatures.

“MecWash’s expertise in wash chemistry is based on years of designing tailored chemicals for the most testing wash challenges for individual customers, as well as manufacturing our own range of general wash chemicals and inhibitors.”

For more details about MecWash’s range of aqueous washing systems visit http://www.mecwash.com

 

 

UK Engine Remanufacturer relies on MecWash Maxi for complete Aqueous Cleaning Solution

MecWash Systems was contacted by one of its longstanding customers, one of Europe’s largest independent engine remanufacturer and assembler, who supplies some of the world’s leading automotive OEMs. Producing more than 20,000 engines a year, the UK-based company supplies OEMs including Jaguar Land Rover, Ford, Volvo, Aston Martin and JCB – each with their own high standards and expectations.

With demand within the automotive sector for ever higher cleanliness levels in engineered components, the company had witnessed the benefits of MecWash Systems Maxi aqueous washer at one of its own customer’s UK sites. This particular OEM had its own very exacting cleanliness requirements and was using a MecWash Maxi component cleaning system.

The remanufacturer was able to see that the MecWash system was far superior to other options investigated – in particular its capabilities in terms of capacity, cycle time and cleanliness standards were all factors that attracted their attention.

The Maxi is one of MecWash’s ultimate precision parts and drying systems. It has a large cleaning capacity that can combine ultrasonics with high flow flood washing, spray washing, flood rinsing, spray rinsing, dedicated jetting and vacuum drying.

The combination of capacity and quality of cleaning and drying was important for our customer, with its production and manufacturing of more than 20,000 engines a year increasing.

The company not only remanufactures drivetrain and transmission products for OEMs, it also engineers machined components as a Tier 1 and Tier 2 supplier, as well as other component and sub assembly products. It exports 75 per cent of these abroad.

The cleaning is particularly important in the remanufacturing of engines where the company salvages approximately 85 per cent of the material from the exchange unit to build a remanufactured product. The remanufacturing process means that all products without exception must be cleaned and degreased to the very highest standards.

Their own customers are demanding maximum particle levels of under 500 microns and this is becoming an industry standard. Being able to achieve, or ideally beat this standard requires a robust cleaning system, and that’s where the Maxi comes in.

John Pattison, managing director of MecWash Systems said the company’s requirements were not like most other engineering companies.

“For a company that is remanufacturing engines, selecting washing and degreasing systems can be very challenging. The nature of the business means parts can be processed in a wide range of conditions, some with very heavy or tenacious soiling.”

“Components have to be cleaned before they can start to be re-manufactured and then they are cleaned again further down the process, often several times” he said. “That requires a tough cleaning regime.”

He added that the automotive remanufacturing sector was not alone in demanding ever more reduction in particle levels through industrial washing systems. “Sectors such as automotive have been demanding increasing precision in their components in recent years. As the tolerances reduce, the cleaning requirements increase correspondingly.”

“Most OEMs are requiring maximum particle sizes of 500 microns for general components and often much less for fuel, oil or hydraulic circuits. Up until a decade ago that could have been 1,000 microns and few customers would have checked rigorously anyway. Now regular Millipore particle testing is ubiquitous. So you can see how acquiring superior cleaning technology, like the Maxi, has been critical to many businesses.

“A combination of good technology, a good cleaning regime and washing chemicals – where our in-house laboratory develops bespoke detergents for clients’ needs – will mean an effective result is achieved. The MecWash Maxi is always tailored to a customer’s exact demands with bespoke options.”