Fast and efficient MecWash cleaning processes helps HydraForce extend capacity and quality thanks to twin-frequency ultrasound

HydraForce, a major manufacturer of innovative hydraulic cartridge valves and manifold systems, needed to invest in a new cleaning system to meet capacity increases and stricter cleanliness requirements.

The system selected was a MecWash MWX400 aqueous parts cleaning system that incorporates 25 kHz and 40 kHz ultrasonic frequencies, which are used simultaneously to facilitate fast and economical cleaning with high process quality.

Since it was founded in 1985, HydraForce has developed into the world's leading supplier of hydraulic screw-in valves, electro-hydraulic controllers, electrical vehicle control systems and customer-specific control blocks.

The products are used in industry and the mobile market, among other things for tractors and attachments, harvesters, wheeled loaders, excavators, lifting and conveying equipment, as well as hydraulic ramps.

The company's success is driven by the high quality, efficiency and cost-effectiveness of its products, which result from high quality precision manufacturing.

Quantitatively and qualitatively stricter cleaning requirements

These high standards demand that the stainless steel, carbon steel and aluminium components must be extremely clean.

Tewkesbury-based MecWash Systems Ltd has been a supplier of HydraForce for 19 years, with five of its Midi cleaning systems already in operation, four at its facility in Birmingham (England) and another in Changzhou (China).

MecWash specialises in the development and manufacture of aqueous cleaning systems for complex components and parts that are required to meet strict cleanliness specifications.

The MWX400 is the upgraded and replacement aqueous washing system for the well proven Midi, used by manufacturers throughout the world.  The MWX400 incorporates several functional enhancements such as increased ultrasonic power as well as being designed to reduce and simplify maintenance.

The constantly growing demand for their hydraulic components meant that HydraForce recently had to expand its manufacturing capacities.

"The new system should be capable of cleaning a very large number of components quickly and efficiently.  However, it must also be able to consistently work to stricter cleanliness requirements than we generally see today," said John Pattison, Managing Director at MecWash.

“Having worked with HydraForce for many years, we already had a good understanding and working relationship with them.”The contamination to be removed comprises swarf, oil and cooling lubricant residues, as well as brazing residue.

In addition to building washing systems, MecWash has an in-house laboratory and cleaning chemical manufacturing facility. It worked with HydraForce to produce a bespoke system providing optimum cleaning and efficiency.

Faster and cleaner thanks to twin-frequency ultrasonics

Depending on the component, cleaning can be performed using special fixtures or simpler parts may be cleaned in bulk. To deliver both the quantitative and qualitative requirements, the new system employs twin frequency ultrasonics.

Although the two frequencies can also be used individually, the intended use is parallel operation. This allows a much larger spectrum of particles to be removed in a single cleaning process and delivers significantly better cleaning results than the existing cleaning systems, which employ only the 25 kHz frequency.

Michael Gillbee, Manufacturing Engineering Manager at HydraForce, said ensuring cleanliness in hydraulic systems was paramount and the MecWash system is allowing them to increase production capacity.

“In hydraulic systems, cleanliness plays an enormous role in equipment quality, reliability and lifespans. At HydraForce we take ownership of the cleanliness of our products and pride ourselves on being able to deliver products to our customers which meet the ever-increasing cleanliness requirements,” he said.

“We have found that MecWash systems enable us to achieve the cleanliness levels required by our customers.  The latest machine has been added to increase our production capacity and we took the opportunity to enhance the cleaning ability of the machine with the inclusion of four ultrasonic transducers.

“We are able to run two different frequencies, either separately or simultaneously to achieve the highest degree of cleanliness across our wide range of different components.

“Along with the separate wash and rinse tanks, oil removal and built-in Aquasave, the new MecWash has given us additional capacity to meet the increasing demand for HydraForce products and to be able to deliver these products to our customers to the highest cleanliness standards."

John Pattison added: “We believe that MecWash's innovative use of ultrasonics could have many applications in precision engineering where a wide spectrum of contamination may be present.  The ability to deliver such high cleanliness standards within a limited cycle time is very valuable."