The need for component quality and reliability in the aerospace manufacturing industry is second to none, with all stages of production obliged to meet the most stringent standards. It is in this context that one of the industry’s leading specialists, the Dunlop Equipment Division of Meggitt Aerospace, is now benefiting from the use of a MecWash Systems’ aqueous-based component cleaning facility. Apart from helping to maximise product quality, it is also making significant contributions to environmental improvement – not least through solvent replacement.
The installation at Dunlop Equipment’s Coventry site is centred on a MecWash Solo 400 stand-alone component cleaning station linked to an Aqua-Save wash water recycling system. The facility, which handles 95% of components produced at the plant, is achieving levels of cleanliness that are surpassing expectations despite the ever growing complexity of component design.
Its role in helping Dunlop Equipment to make dramatic reductions in its use of ‘trike’ is equally important with solvent usage of some 2.6 tonnes annually prior to the installation now scheduled to reduce at the rate of one tonne per year – in line with regulatory requirements. The installation of a further MecWash station could see trike usage virtually eradicated on the site – down to just 0.2 tonnes per year.
The self-contained Solo 400 unit, whose small footprint is seen as a further advantage by Dunlop Equipment, features the acclaimed MecWash rotational cleaning technology. Components – typically stainless steel, aluminium and titanium – are contained in a series of plastic compartments in two trays that are manually front-loaded into the wash chamber from a waist-height roller conveyor.
Each load can hold up to 40 individual components including bleed valves and solenoid valves, both of which are at the heart of Dunlop Equipment’s expertise in the field. With the door closed, a ten-minute automatic cycle subjects the products to a heavy spray wash, rinse and drying programme with components then removed in a clean and dry condition for onward assembly. Phil Law, Production Engineer at the site, highlights the key benefits of the process “Because products are held in storage ahead of assembly they are necessarily coated with an inhibitor which has to removed,” he explains. “This is achieved by the MecWash system which, importantly, delivers the products in a dry condition including, of course, the complete elimination of trike residue. This is clearly an important benefit to our workforce.” He points out that the MecWash facility operates five days a week for some 16 hours a day and is therefore, a key focus of operational procedures.
Located alongside the Solo 400 is an Aqua-Save wash water recycling station supplied by the Tewkesbury-based MecWash Systems’ dedicated Aqua-Save Technologies Division. The mobile unit, which can also be relocated alongside additional equipment, re-processes the Solo’s wash solution to enable its repeated re-use with only minimal disposal requirements resulting. “To date, we have found that we only need to operate the Aqua-Save for four or five hours per week to ensure that the wash solution meets the highest standard,” continues Phil Law. “The significant reduction in disposal requirements clearly making a further contribution to our environmental performance.”
Paul Young, MecWash Director, points out that the opportunity also exists for the company to create purpose-designed fixtures that can hold an entire assembly ‘kit’ “This would effectively allow larger scale items to be processed,” he says, “and, because each cycle would produce all required elements for a onward use, it would enhance the efficiency of the company’s assembly procedures. Importantly, this would also reflect on the ability of our technology to handle the increasing complexity of component design in the aerospace field.”
With simple access to the design, installation and support services delivered by MecWash as a result of the company’s UK manufacturing base, the benefits associated with the Solo 400 and Aqua-Save systems are set to be of major significance for Dunlop Equipment long into the future. At a time when production quality is at the heart of success in this highly competitive field, they clearly offer advantages that will help the company sustain its leading position in this specialist sector.