Federal-Mogul turns the tide on harmful solvent degreasing

An on-going commitment to environmental betterment by automotive component manufacturer Federal-Mogul, has now led to the installation of a MecWash Systems component washing station at the company's premises in Rochdale. The installation is a direct replacement of a solvent-based system which had not only conflicted with the company's commitment to maximising its environmental performance, but had also risked delays in production throughput while operators waited for the fumes from the solvent used to dissipate safely.

The MecWash Midi now operates continually on a two-shift basis cleaning a wide range of pressed mild steel components brought in from Federal-Mogul suppliers. Once cleaned, these are immediately transferred to an adjacent shot-blast station for keying ahead of assembly with associated rubber components. Currently standing alongside is the solvent-based station which is now simply awaiting dismantling and removal from site.

Because all MecWash systems are based on aqueous cleaning, they present none of the accepted environmental difficulties associated with solvent alternatives. Based on a rotating drum within which fixtures and baskets containing components are secured, a typical wash cycle proceeds through a spray/flood wash, rinse and hot air drying processes. At Federal-Mogul, an average cycle lasts just ten minutes and delivers components which can be immediately handled onwards to the adjacent operation.

"We drew up specifications for three different types of basket for the components which MecWash then built for us as part of the contract," comments Peter Pedroza, Manufacturing Engineer at Federal-Mogul. "The vast majority of components can be placed loose into the mesh basket but we also utilise additional fittings that allow circular plates to be suspended or small screws to be housed in smaller mesh containers which themselves are then securely located in the baskets.

"The results of the cleaning processes are excellent compared with the solvent-based predecessor and, of course, we have now eliminated the former system's environmental drawbacks. This has had an immediate benefit for the wash plant operators and also, of course, for our customers who require products to be manufactured to the highest possible environmental standards."

Baskets are loaded into the MecWash Midi via a short run of roller conveyor, also supplied and installed by MecWash, with an overhead crane used to aid handling operations. Because of the filtration systems built into the unit, disposal requirements are now limited to just a small amount of oil residue which is skimmed off the wash solution and collected in an adjacent container.

"One of the more immediate benefits of the system was the fact that Federal-Mogul eliminated delays that they previously had to observe to allow the vapour from the harmful solvent to dissipate," adds MecWash Director Paul Young. "At times this could amount to 20 minutes per cycle and thus the new system has had an immediate and obvious beneficial effect on production throughput."

With Federal-Mogul's customers, both in the UK and world-wide, demanding the highest possible levels of quality and supply efficiency, as well as calling for their suppliers to comply with ISO14001 environmental standards, the MecWash Midi installation clearly has a vital role to play. Its use now for all component cleaning operations at the Rochdale site represents a step which will help one of the automotive component industry's leading names build on success that has seen it gain an enviable position in its marketplace.