Automatic Parts Washers
Most parts washers today are semi or completely automatic. They are controlled by computer software and perform automated tasks like loading, washing, rinsing, drying, and unloading, all without worker assistance. Automatic parts washers greatly reduce the cost of manual labor, are much faster than non-automatic machines, and have the capability to clean parts in very high volumes at a faster rate.
Quick links to Automatic Parts Washers Information
Applications of Automatic Parts Washers
Automatic parts washers may be batch fed and stand alone or work in conjunction with forming machinery and post processing stages as part of an inline conveyor system, which requires no loading or unloading by workers. They are used in many different industries. Automotive manufacturers run new vehicle parts that are soiled from forming processes and used parts that have grease, road dirt, and grime buildup through automatic parts washers. Hardware factories that produce small tools like fasteners run their newly formed products through parts washers in high volumes. Some medical facilities sometimes use them to sanitize large amounts of reusable instruments and supplies. Recycling facilities also use automatic parts washers. Before a used item like a plastic bottle or drum may be melted down and formed into a new product, it must be fully cleaned and sanitized, and this is often done with parts washers.
Automatic Parts Washer Design and Function
All types of parts washers, including immersion, rotary, spray, and agitating, which are all designed to clean specific products, are available semi or fully automatic. These washers are controlled by either CNC (computer numeric controlled) systems or PC software. They move the parts through rinse, wash, and dry stages continuously, and control cleaning solution levels, heat, pressure, speed, applied load, and flow rate. These options are all pre-programmed and adjustable. Semi-automatic parts washers have automated stages but may require manual loading and unloading or will work in conjunction with a separate conveyor system. They are often equipped with a liquid recycling system, which reduces cost and provides environmental protection. Parts washers that are controlled by a CNC system use one or more microprocessors and storage units. They often work with CAD/CAM software systems that instruct the machinery to execute exact movements necessary to clean the parts. Automatic parts washers provide many benefits; they cut solvent use by 90% and increase the cleaning quality and speed, which results in lower expenses and higher quality results.
Parts Washer Use in Heavy Industrial Applications
In industries where large volumes of components and parts are processed, specific types of parts washers are employed. Washers designed for the automotive industry are different from those created for other industries—from overall efficiency to cleaning solution used and standard operation.
The following types of parts washers are most commonly used in heavy industry:
- Agitated Immersion Washers
- A simple immersion washer may consist of a drum washer, where parts are immersed to loosen dirt and other contaminants before being washed by agitation on a tray. More advanced versions that are used in industries are fitted with multiple tanks, each for a different purpose such as washing, rinsing, or drying. These washers are specially used when chips, carbon, oil, rust, or buffing compounds are required to be removed from parts before being welded or deburred, as well in the processing of phosphate and alodine coating. However, agitated immersion washers cannot manage large volumes of parts as they work in batches.
- Spray Cabinet Washers
- Similarly, spray cabinet washers also work in batches. However, their cleaning efficiency is a bit better than immersion washers. Cabinet washers are either front-loading or top-loading and have a spray manifold that cleans parts with the combined action of pressure and a cleaning solution—usually either solvent based or aqueous based. The most common types of spray cabinet washers are retractable and roundtable. In retractable washers, a retractable arm holds parts while washing. In roundtable washers, the parts are fastened on a table that rotates. Just like immersion washer designs, spray cabinet washers also sometimes cannot deliver parts at a manufacturer’s required rate. In such cases, conveyor parts washers, also known as wash-rinse-dry systems, are utilized.
- Conveyor Parts Washers
- Conveyor parts washers are all-in-one machines that can wash, rinse, dry, and seal, if required. The parts are moved automatically from one stage to another through a conveyor process and with minimal human interference. Many conveyor systems are available, however, the most common are in-line, U bend and monorail, which have their specific applications. Conveyor parts washers are designed for continuous operation and processing of large volumes of parts. They accomplish cleaning easily, as all stages are automated. If a facility needs a system that can perform washing, rinsing, and drying at a high rate, then this system probably is the most appropriate choice available.
Conveyor parts washers offer many advantages, including:
- Versatility and high customizability.
- They can function as a stand-alone system with minimal operator control.
- They save space and can be squeezed into cramped spaces, including a monorail washer, as the conveyor hangs overhead.
- They are available in different designs and models with variations in terms of wash and rinse tank size, turning radius, belt width, weight capacity, tunnel height, heating method, and pump output, as well as general dimensions.
- They can be based on manual operation given the specific need.
- They offer a wide variety of features and functions ranging from steam to gas to electricity.
If your organization needs a machine to efficiently clean large volumes of parts, a conveyor parts washer may be your best option.
Tips for Cleaning and Maintaining Parts Washing Systems
A key reason for using parts washers in a production plant is to make sure that machine parts are clean and ready for the next production cycle. Cleaning and maintenance of industrial process equipment are essential to meet production demands efficiently, while keeping your production costs low. Routine maintenance activities are also important if you want your machines to stay up and running for a long period of time.
Like any other industrial appliances, industrial washers and parts cleaning systems need regular maintenance. In the process of removing contaminants from machine and automotive parts, part cleaning systems catch a number of pollutants that should be removed to keep them fully functional. The contaminants that they eradicate from your process equipment enter directly into the solution reservoirs of the cleaners. Using solutions mixed with these types of impurities will have an adverse impact on the effectiveness of your cleaning.
The grinding of pollutants in the tank drags the pH level of the cleaning solution to an unacceptable level (either below 2.0 or above the 12.5 mark), in addition to raising the flash point of the solution to around 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, the recycling and filtration of cleaning solutions become two necessary requirements that no business should overlook. The tank as well as the entire system should be tested for and freed from pollutants.
Follow these steps for disinfecting a water-based parts cleaning system:
- First, turn off the automatic water supply. Also, open/remove the tap and filters.
- As the water drains out from the reservoir, monitor the flow direction of the (water) spray. If the spray of the water is slit or angled, there could be a need to replace and mount the nozzle correctly.
- After the nozzles and filters are out, add a cleaning chemical to the existing (water) solution in the tank of your aqueous cleaning system. You can source this chemical from your machine manufacturer or supplier. Boil this solution at a temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Start the pump and let it operate for at least half an hour. Doing so will allow the oily, greasy elements to fall off the pump surface.
- Clean the mud and other debris formed during previous cleaning steps.
- Replace and fix the machine nozzles appropriately.
- Run the pump again continuously for four to five hours. This very stage will help eradicate the rest of the contaminants that were left out during the first run.
- Evacuate the cleaning solution from the reservoir using a pump or other device.
- Carefully remove the bolts around the tank to move the metal (or stainless steel) sheet back and forth. These steps give you access to the interior of the reservoir. Be careful to use gentle hand motions and not damage any of the parts during this stage. Make sure to replace any parts that get damaged during this step.
- Allow the interior to dry out.
- Cover the sheets, and bolt the machine back together.
- Check the condition of the supply inlet and outlet, doors, etc. Replace if necessary.
- Refill the tank with a cleaning solution.