MecWash component cleaning technology measures up at Renishaw
Aqueous-based component cleaning technology from MecWash Systems Ltd. is now meeting the extremely high performance standards laid down by one of the world's leading manufacturers of measurement equipment. Four MecWash Midi cleaning stations are now operational for Renishaw and are achieving results that even satisfy Tof SIMS analysis (Time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry) - a highly demanding surface analysis process undertaken at Bristol University. As a result, the 330,000 components per month produced at Renishaw's Stonehouse and Wotton-under-Edge facilities are achieving the high levels of cleanliness required for a range of applications in industries as diverse as medical, forensics, calibration, aerospace and automotive, where Renishaw is seen as a major producer of probing systems and calibration equipment.
Each of the four MecWash Midi installations - three at Stonehouse and the other at Wotton-under-Edge - are comprehensively specified and benefit from a built-in Aqua-Save wash water treatment system which cleans and recycles the wash and rinse solutions. Consequently, the wash installations do not need a connection to drains allowing them to be sited where required within the production lines.
Based on the acclaimed MecWash rotational washing technology, the Midis' choice of programmes provides rotational flood immersion washing, rinsing, final rinsing, high performance filtration, oil separation and hot air and vacuum drying. This ensures that material such as metal swarf, coolant and auto de-burring residue is removed from each component ahead of further assembly operations that take place at Renishaw's plants - both in the UK and Ireland. The systems also provide a clean, bright, residue free surface finish without spots and stains which is paramount to the highly aesthetic appearance of the final product.
"Apart from the installation of the machines, we also worked closely with the customer to develop a highly effective and versatile component handling system," comments MecWash Sales Director, Paul Young. "Each wash programme accommodates two metal trays, loaded from waist height and indexed during loading through 180º, into which perforated plastic inserts are located. Individually these can accommodate a wide range of component sizes - from 6 to 320 units per load - but importantly, all are held in position without the risk of metal-to-metal contact. This reflects both on the precise manufacturing procedures that Renishaw use and the importance of high quality operations at every stage of production."
The three Midi installations at Stonehouse are located in the company's new manufacturing plant. All the units are able to accommodate a range of manufacturing materials including stainless steel, aluminium and brass - direct from the wide range of machining processes that are at the heart of the majority of Renishaw's manufacturing expertise. The use of ultrasonics in conjunction with the rotational wash technology in two of the machines had been specified to remove surface staining that could arise from dried-on coolant.
The consistent results and the self-contained design of the MecWash equipment are key factors in the installation and offer distinct advantages compared with the previous methods used by the company. John Fielder, Senior Production Engineer, explains -
"Previously, we used a series of ultrasonic dip tanks and solvent cleaning so there are clear performance and environmental benefits associated with the decision to move to the MecWash installations," he says. "Alongside this, the in-built Aqua-Save units which require only small amounts of waste oil to be transported occasionally for safe disposal off site, enhance our environmental performance which we believe is a key element in responsible, modern manufacturing processes.
"Because of the highly accurate performance our customers require from our products, and the types of industry within which they operate, the quality of each stage of the manufacturing process is critical," he continues. "To date, we are delighted with the contribution made by the MecWash equipment."