MecWash aqueous cleaning system at SPS targets key customer cleanliness requirements

Significant growth in production, much of it linked to new market developments, has prompted specialist manufacturer, SPS Technologies Ltd. to install a second aqueous-based component cleaning system from MecWash Systems Ltd. - specifically to meet the cleaning requirements of a new customer.

The original MecWash unit remains dedicated to the cleaning requirements associated with the company's aerospace fastener production, particularly its cadmium-based products with the second MecWash Duo cleaning facility now located alongside. The new unit focuses on the cleaning of components - a total of 27 different designs, mostly in brass and steel - that are manufactured by its sister organisation in Rugby for customer BAE. Adrian Salisbury is Facilities Manager at SPS Technologies in Leicester and highlights the role played by the latest MecWash facility and its importance in the production process -

"The new installation is designed to ensure that each component arrives in a clean condition at the subsequent passivation, phosphating or spray process," he explains. "It is important that products are free from contamination to ensure the effectiveness of these operations is maximised, so the MecWash units have a direct influence on our production quality and, ultimately, our reputation."

He explains that components up to 30 mm in diameter are received from the sister factory onto site individually positioned in purpose-designed metal cages which are then placed four at a time into corresponding baskets - also supplied by MecWash. Two of these are loaded at a time into the rotational drum, which is central to the MecWash design, and the appropriate wash cycle is then applied.

"One of the key requirements achieved by the installation relates to temperature control," continues Adrian Salisbury. "In many cases, we are limited by the level that can be set - it being vital, for example, not to exceed 40°C to ensure a paraffin wax band, which is central to the design of a number of items, is not removed. In these cases, the combination of appropriate wash cycle and the selection of the optimum chemical - here AC25 - means that we can keep the operating wash temperature within the necessary limits whilst still meeting stringent cleanliness requirements."

Production commonly sees machining oil and swarf having to be removed by the MecWash installation together with a rust prevention wax that coats some products. At the same time, because component designs can vary from solid construction to those with a number of blind ends or hollows, the reliability and effectiveness of the rotating or oscillating flood and spray wash, spray rinse and hot air dry cycles are fundamental.

As with the original MecWash Duo, SPS Technologies have also installed an Aqua-Save Junior waste water recycling system alongside the installation. This not only ensures that the quality of the wash solution remains extremely high, but also dramatically minimises the requirement to dispose of waste material off site. Adrian Salisbury points out that in a double shift operation lasting 16 hours, no more than a single 25-litre container of waste material is collected from each unit. Moreover, in its first five months of continuous operation, the second unit has yet to require a filter change - testimony to the quality of the wash solution that the Aqua-Save delivers back into the process.

"Our decision to install the second MecWash unit reflects our commitment to excellence and clearly owes much to our experience of the first facility at the site," adds Adrian Salisbury. "Ease of operation, reliability and effective cleaning were paramount in this decision and we are happy to report that, to date, it has met all of our performance objectives."

"We believe the decision by SPS to place the order for the second Duo and accompanying Aqua-Save Junior at the Leicester site endorses the company's commitment not only to production quality, but also environmental responsibility," comments MecWash's Managing Director, John Pattison.

"The aqueous design of our wash stations clearly avoids all the potential risks associated with solvent cleaning whilst the addition of the Aqua-Save alongside each Duo enhances the company's environmental performance. We are delighted that, as with the first installation, this second facility is fulfilling key cleaning requirements at SPS Technologies, helping to meet the stringent specifications defined by this important customer," he concludes.