High performance, aqueous-based cleaning and enhanced environmental protection are at the heart of four MecWash installations now operational at the Goodrich Actuation Systems plant in Wolverhampton. The MecWash Midi units - each fitted with an Aqua-Save waste water recycling system - are a key element in a major move to replace solvent use at the site - Goodrich points out that it is a programme which is seeing no less than 24 solvent degreasing stations removed from the premises.
Located in key areas of the manufacturing facility, three of the MecWash Midi units are dedicated to specific activity with the fourth offering a wide range of component cleaning options. Because the vast majority of the company's business is focused on the aerospace industry, cleanliness and performance requirements are paramount. The cleaning capability of the MecWash units, combined with their environmental benefits resulting from the aqueous design - enhanced by the Aqua-Save technology - are all key factors behind the decision to install the four systems.
One of the dedicated installations is sited ahead of the painting and plating facility. Responsible for the removal of oil before onward processing, the unit is loaded directly from a static roller conveyor into the rotating drum which is at the heart of the MecWash cleaning technology. A series of pre-set programmes rotate and oscillate the drum through spray and flood washing and rinsing stages ensuring that components - held either in simple plastic containers with internal separators, purpose-designed fixtures or in mesh baskets - are fully cleaned and dried.
A similar arrangement in the Goodrich heat-treatment area is also now fully functional and, alone, has replaced three solvent-based installations. Key objectives need to be met in this location as Mark Binfield, Operations Manager (Special Process) at Goodrich, explains -
"Parts must be totally dry ahead of the heat-treatment process so the vacuum drying capability of the MecWash Midi is very important," he says. "Typical products that go through this machine are gears and rotary actuators manufactured from high strength steel which can present particular corrosion considerations and are thus coated with a suitable inhibitor. It is the removal of this that is the prime function of the MecWash installation."
The third machine, located alongside the Goodrich NDT facility and through which virtually all components manufactured at the site pass, was considered by Goodrich to be the only machine of its type on the market which could deliver suitable cleaning results for this vital operation.
"The MecWash Midi here is equipped with both ultrasonics and vacuum drying and can accommodated both large, fixtured parts and smaller components in baskets," explains Steve Parks, NDT Level Three at the site. "Cleanliness here is paramount if all potential cracks are to be identified in components, so the performance of the MecWash Midi is crucial to our quality control procedures."
Whilst three of the MecWash Midi units focus on specific activities, the fourth installation, which also benefits from ultrasonic cleaning operating in conjunction with the rotating drum, offers Goodrich a highly versatile cleaning option. Able to accommodate both heavily contaminated refurbished and new build parts - even components up to two metres in length - the unit operates on a 'bus stop' basis, with parts arriving from around the site, as well as often working in conjunction with blasting stations positioned alongside. Again, this one installation has replaced three solvent degreasing stations.
"The move away from solvent degreasers is clearly a key commitment for Goodrich and reflects the company's belief in environmental improvement," comments MecWash Director, Paul Young. "The specification of an Aqua-Save unit with each installation enhances this as it allows waste water to be recycled continuously through the system with only minimal off site disposal requirements resulting.
"This is the latest in a series of installations that we have undertaken for Goodrich over a number of years and we are obviously delighted to be involved. The combination of cleaning performance and environmental betterment, we believe, is central to the success of our equipment design and there are few places where this is better demonstrated than at the Goodrich plant in Wolverhampton," he concludes.