MecWash combines ultrasonics with aqueous
wash system to achieve stringent component cleaning targets
An extremely high level of component cleaning - which exceeds
a target that calls for just one particle of 100 microns in
size per 100 ml of wash down fluid - is now being achieved
by one of the country's leading manufacturers of hydraulic
components as a result of MecWash Systems' technology. A new
installation of a MecWash Midi at Hydraforce in Birmingham
is combining the company's acclaimed rotational washing technology
with ultrasonics, to meet the highly stringent cleanliness
Manufacturers of a wide range of hydraulic valves, primarily
for customers in the
off-road and agricultural vehicle sector, Hydraforce is using
the installation for cleaning six separate component designs,
including a new transmission manifold for a leading manufacturer
of construction equipment.
The manufacturing process sees machining followed by resin
impregnation which can, under some circumstances, cause machined
residue to adhere to the component. The MecWash Midi uses
ultrasonics to dislodge this material before the aqueous washing
process removes it, resulting in a highly cleaned component
that is then ready for transfer onto the build line.
Andy Fellows is Manufacturing Engineer at Hydraforce and
highlights the specific objective that the installation is
able to meet for one of the company's most important customers
"We are required to clean the components to meet precise
customer specification," he says, "which calls for
no more than one particle above 100 microns in size to remain
in 100 ml of wash-down fluid drawn from a one litre sample.
Early results using patch pull through tests have indicated
that these highly stringent aims are actually being exceeded
by the MecWash installation," he points out.
The use of ultrasonics in combination with the rotational,
high volume, single chamber wash process - for which MecWash
Systems has gained a leading reputation in its field - adds
a further significant dimension to the cleaning process.
The surface scrubbing action caused by the ultrasonic sound
waves loosens ingrained and adhered contaminants such as casting
sand, graphite, lapping pastes and polishing compounds - as
well as machining residue as in this case - allowing the powerful
flushing action at the heart of the MecWash flood/spray washing
process to remove the maximum amount of waste material.
Apart from the high quality results, the design also offers
significant efficiency and environmental gains over more conventional
ultrasonic installations. Traditionally, these have seen a
long line of open top dip tanks which, because they could
require up to three times the footprint of the MecWash unit,
would place significantly more pressure on available floor
space. Moreover, although effectively loosening waste material,
the conventional approach would offer no means of removing
it from the solution - with an inevitable gradual decrease
in cleaning quality.
The blocks, as with the other components that are processed
through the MecWash Midi, are held securely in purpose-designed
jigs. These are then front loaded from an adjacent roller
conveyor into the wash unit in pairs, with the door closed
and the drum indexed through 180º each time. The company
also has the option of locating smaller components into baskets,
sub-divided with nylon partitions, which are also clamped
in pairs into the drum mechanism.
An automatic wash process lasting 10 to 15 minutes then follows
with the resultant wash solution filtered back into the system
for future use. To date, in the first few months of operation,
Andy Fellows reports no more than one filter change has been
required. Alongside this, the environmental benefits compared
with solvent alternatives make for the optimum operating environment
and avoid the risk of inappropriate discharge to the drainage
"Hydraforce has also specified the unit to allow retro-fitting
of both vacuum drying and direct jetting connections,"
comments MecWash Sales Director Paul Young. "This will
enable the company to enhance the performance of the equipment,
particularly as the direct jetting operation allows us to
provide 'the ultimate wash' for more complex components -
even those with multiple blind holes and galleries. Our belief,
therefore, is that this is an installation that not only meets
the company's stringent requirements today but which is designed
to allow them to build further on their success in the future."
With a wide range of metals processed - including aluminium,
steel and brass - and a long list of hydraulic valve designs,
the need for the highest level of production quality is central
to the Hydraforce track record. Its use now of a MecWash Midi
- which builds on the advantages the company has gained for
several years from a Mini system from the same supplier -
is set to help Hydraforce maintain its leading position in
this highly specialist sector of the manufacturing industry.