MecWash component cleaning systems operated by robots produce maximum benefits at Perkins

High quality, aqueous-based component cleaning installations from MecWash Systems Ltd. are now being implemented by Perkins Engines in Peterborough with, significantly, the two ‘Midi’ units interfacing directly with the robotic handling systems. The units are key elements in a self-contained, highly focused operation which, says Perkins, effectively enables the manufacturing cell to operate as its own profit centre.

Cylinder heads for the Perkins Type 400D engines – in both turbo and naturally-aspirated formats – are processed in the new facility. Raw castings proceed in pairs through four Heller machining centres with the MecWash Midi units used for both intermediate and final wash processes. The results according to Roger Lee, NPI Project Manager at Perkins Engines, are excellent –

“The MecWash Midi’s remove coolant and swarf which are inevitably produced by the machining operations and need to meet our specification figures of no more than 145 milligrams per cylinder head. The actual figure being achieved is between 10 and 20 milligrams which dramatically exceeds the target and makes a major contribution to maintaining the high quality levels that our customers require and expect.”

The environmental gains arising from the aqueous operation of the MecWash installations are enhanced by their ability to interface directly with the Fanuc robotic system. The handling systems control the full movement of the finished components from receipt through machining and washing processes and also accommodate the purpose-designed fixtures that MecWash have developed to enable the cylinder heads to be washed in the most effective way.

The Midi specification at Perkins includes a dedicated jetting facility which sees the wash solution fed directly through the fixture to be directed at key areas of each component. Not only does this allow the wash process to operate most effectively, but the pipe-work arrangement also delivers pressurised air to the same locations to optimise the subsequent drying process. This combines with the MecWash flood and spray wash procedures – all contained in the company’s rotational drum design – to produce the excellent results that Perkins are now experiencing.

“We have also designed drag conveyors into the wash tanks to allow the machine swarf to be removed automatically, reducing operator involvement and machine downtime for cleaning,” adds MecWash Director Paul Young. “We are delighted that each installation has met Perkins’ precise requirements in terms of the cleaning and drying of complex components quickly and accurately – all within the totally automated processing operation.”

Operating 24 hours a day, five days a week across three shifts and producing some 80,000 cylinder heads per year, this is a highly important part of Perkins Engines’ Peterborough operation. Structured around individual processing teams which include production, maintenance and training – which the organisation points out effectively gives the employees ‘ownership’ of the process – the facility demonstrates not just highly efficient manufacturing procedures but also an innovative approach to operational procedures.

“We believe the decision to specify the MecWash Midi’s within this context reflects favourably on both our equipment performance and design and also our willingness and ability to work closely with other key suppliers – of both robotics and machine tool centres – at the site,” concludes Paul Young.