MecWash component cleaning replaces solvents
to deliver formula one performance!
There are few more demanding environments in the automotive
industry than Formula One racing. The leading edge performance
that this entails, in turn, calls for precise, high quality
manufacturing procedures that not only meet today's specifications
but which can also match ever more stringent needs in the
That is the context within which a Millennium aqueous-based
component cleaning station from MecWash Systems is now well
proven. At the heart of the Cosworth Racing operation in Northampton,
engine components passing through the installation come direct
from three teams on the Formula One circuit. The requirement
to re-engineer each unit to a perfect 'as new' condition,
despite the presence of oil, road dust and carbon deposits,
calls for an unequalled level of washing and drying quality
and consistency. Furthermore, this has to be done with full
regard to the high level of environmental commitment demanded
by Cosworth Racing. The organisation is owned by the Ford
Motor Company who have stringent environmental policies and,
indeed, have led the way in the health and safety arena -
including solvent replacement. Clearly an important consideration,
it is fundamentally addressed by the aqueous-based MecWash
Godfrey Cross is Manufacturing Team Leader at the site and
highlights the key role played by the MecWash Millennium -
"Apart from its use during initial manufacture, where
cleanliness levels are at the centre of the process, it continually
handles engines that are returned following racing,"
he says. "Each time, they are stripped down before undergoing
an initial wash through the Millennium installation with non-destructive
testing, re-washing and final build following on.
"The manufacturing area operates two eight hour shifts
per day so the Millennium is in constant demand and thus has
to perform reliably every time," he adds. "To date
this need has been fully met but we also took advantage of
specifying a direct diagnostic link allowing it to report
back via a telephone line to the MecWash factory in Tewkesbury.
If a problem did arise, therefore, an assessment could be
conducted and solution identified without the need for MecWash
staff to even visit the site."
As with the majority of MecWash component cleaning machines,
the Millennium is based around the company's acclaimed rotational
washing technology which features a single drum within which
components are located. At Cosworth, a typical engine is stripped
down into five separate components each of which is delivered
via an automatic load/unload conveyor to the front loading
door in tailor-designed jigs.
Each jig design features a 'flag' which enables the unit
to identify automatically the component being carried and
then select the optimum programme for the wash process. Additional
components, which are also processed through the machine at
regular intervals at the site, are held in baskets that are
loaded three at a time into the drum. The Millennium thus
provides both a high degree of operational versatility and
excellent speed of throughput and, because minimal input by
Cosworth staff is required, significant savings arise compared
to the previous manually-intensive cleaning methods that were
Automatic wash and rinse procedures, the latter including
a de-ionised solution specifically to address the characteristics
of the hard water area within which the factory is located,
are carried out ahead of hot air and vacuum drying to ensure
that no wash solution remains in any of the complex engine
structures. Significantly, each jig connects to a feed at
the back of the drum to enable wash solution to be delivered
through a manifold built into the jig design. This internal
jetting feature provides a focused wash and drying process
which accurately matches both the complexity of the components
and also the high cleaning standards that need to be achieved.
The process is further enhanced by two high power ultrasonic
transducers that are used to remove not only the heavy greases
that are applied to the engines during assembly, but also
other contamination that may become adhered to the surface
of the components.
From an environmental perspective, the aqueous operation
offers clear cut gains compared to a solvent-based operation.
At Cosworth, however, these are benefits that are further
enhanced by a MecWash Aqua-Save wash water recycling system
which is also built in to the frame of the Millennium unit.
Although the Millennium is a key point of focus for the engine
refitting and build operations at the site, the suitability
of MecWash technology to the needs of Cosworth Racing is also
in evidence in other key areas. Two MecWash Midi's and one
Solo are important elements in three separate manufacturing
cells - each providing inter-stage cleaning that, again, replaces
trike-based predecessors. With the Solo used for cleaning
pistons and the two Midi's for a range of products including
cams, cranks, gears, heads and blocks - with in-built Aqua-Save
units again featuring - each unit makes a direct impact on
the high quality associated with the stringently controlled
production process and delivers the same environmental advantages
as the Millennium.
"All three of these machines receive components loaded
into baskets that feature individual nylon dividers,"
explains Godfrey Cross. "Because of the diversity of
component sizes and types, we concluded that this was the
most economical approach as it provides maximum versatility."
He points out that MecWash has also trained key Cosworth Racing
staff to enable them to develop and manufacture their own
jigging and fixtures - thereby providing the optimum degree
of control and flexibility.
In a performance critical environment, such as at Cosworth
Racing, manufacturing processes have to adhere to pressures
of quality, speed and environmental care - and in every respect,
the MecWash machines deliver excellent results. The achievement
of the highly respected position with which the name of Cosworth
Racing is associated, is evidence of the company's commitment
to staying at the leading edge of this highly competitive
industry. It is a belief that filters through to every aspect
of the manufacturing process and which therefore reflects
equal credit on the design and performance of the equipment
from MecWash Systems - themselves proud to be associated with
a name that has a world-wide reputation for quality.