Metal Finishing July/August 2013 : Page 20

casestudy BY DORIS SHCHULZ, OWNER, SCHULZ PRESSE TEXT, STUTTGART, GERMANY Leaner, Greener Cleaning = Measurable Results Superior Products LLC makes switch from nitric acid dip cleaning to closed-loop solvent method. Step by step: The batches get transported into the machine’s cleaning chamber by an automatic conveyor feeding system, which identifi es the products by a proximity sensor and chooses the appropriate cleaning program automatically. M aking the change from a nitric acid aqua-based cleaning machine to a closed-loop solvent sys-tem has paid off for Superior Prod-ucts, LLC. The Cleveland, Ohio-based company reduced the water consump-tion annually from 2 million gallons to zero, dropped labor for cleaning, and achieved better overall cleaning results in the process. Superior Products, LLC started in 1946 as a general screw machine com-pany and has grown its product lines to serve the welding, medical, beverage, cryogenic liquid and specialty gas industries worldwide with fi ttings, manifolds and assemblies. The com-pany’s product range includes about 3,000 unique parts, which are devel-oped and manufactured at the facility. Superior machines 10 to 15 million pieces annually which are primarily made of brass and stainless steel. After machining, the parts are con-taminated with chips and swarf as well as cutting fl uids and oils. As they are used in connection with com-pressed gas in industrial, medical, and specialty gas applications, the parts have to be cleaned to an “oxygen clean” standard. The Compressed Gas Association (CGA) allows no more than 47.5 mg/sq.ft. of organic mate-rial on the parts. “If a dirty part is used in an oxygen system, there is a chance of fi re because it is compressed gas that can lead to explosion,” Supe-rior Products general manager Iain Hodgekins explained. Superior’s pre-vious cleaning solution, a nitric acid bright dip cleaning system, reached a level of about 17 or 18 mg/sq.ft and thus satisfi ed the cleanliness require-ment. However, the cleaning system was about 30 years old, and many parts had to be re-cleaned. Addition-ally, the system used about two mil-lion gallons of water annually that had to be processed for heavy metals in the wastewater. “We wanted a modern system that would allow us to drastically reduce the impact on the environment,” Hodgekins recalled. “Furthermore, we wanted a more reliable cleaning process that would require less re-cleaning and improve our effi ciency and quality.” For selecting the appropriate clean-ing solution, Superior Products evalu-ated available cleaning procedures — from aqueous methods to solvent-based techniques — and talked to several cleaning machine manufac-turers. Based on cleaning tests con-ducted at Dürr Ecoclean’s facility in Wixom, Mich., the company decided on the Universal 81C. This is a single-chamber, solvent-based, closed-loop cleaning system that uses no-chlorin-ated hydrocarbons. The fact that it operates completely under vacuum negates the need for additional explo-sion protection when using combusti-ble solvents such as isoparaffinic hydrocarbons. Additionally, the machine offers multiple monitoring of safety-relevant temperatures and pressures. “With this closed-lop system we have achieved excellent cleaning results, we don’t need water for clean-ing, and we have no wastewater man-agement issues,” Hodgekins said. The old system, he noted, required two operators for eight hours a day to clean parts. Due to the fully auto-matic cleaning process with the Uni-www.metalfi nishing.com 20 | metalfi nishing | July/August 2013

Leaner, Greener Cleaning = Measurable Results: Superior Products LLC Makes Switch from Nitric Acid Dip Cleaning to Closed-loop Solvent Method

Doris Shchulz, Owner, Schulz Presse Text, Stuttgart, Germany

casestudy<br /> <br /> Leaner, Greener Cleaning = Measurable Results Superior Products LLC makes switch from nitric acid dip cleaning to closed-loop solvent method.<br /> <br /> Making the change from a nitric acid aqua-based cleaning machine to a closed-loop solvent system has paid off for Superior Products, LLC. The Cleveland, Ohio-based company reduced the water consumption annually from 2 million gallons to zero, dropped labor for cleaning, and achieved better overall cleaning results in the process.<br /> <br /> Superior Products, LLC started in 1946 as a general screw machine company and has grown its product lines to serve the welding, medical, beverage, cryogenic liquid and specialty gas industries worldwide with fittings, manifolds and assemblies. The company's product range includes about 3,000 unique parts, which are developed and manufactured at the facility. Superior machines 10 to 15 million pieces annually which are primarily made of brass and stainless steel.<br /> <br /> After machining, the parts are contaminated with chips and swarf as well as cutting fluids and oils. As they are used in connection with compressed gas in industrial, medical, and specialty gas applications, the parts have to be cleaned to an "oxygen clean" standard. The Compressed Gas Association (CGA) allows no more than 47.5 mg/sq.ft. of organic material on the parts. "If a dirty part is used in an oxygen system, there is a chance of fi re because it is compressed gas that can lead to explosion," Superior Products general manager Iain Hodgekins explained. Superior's previous cleaning solution, a nitric acid bright dip cleaning system, reached a level of about 17 or 18 mg/sq.ft and thus satisfied the cleanliness requirement. However, the cleaning system was about 30 years old, and many parts had to be re-cleaned. Additionally, the system used about two million gallons of water annually that had to be processed for heavy metals in the wastewater.<br /> <br /> "We wanted a modern system that would allow us to drastically reduce the impact on the environment," Hodgekins recalled. "Furthermore, we wanted a more reliable cleaning process that would require less recleaning and improve our efficiency and quality."<br /> <br /> For selecting the appropriate cleaning solution, Superior Products evaluated available cleaning procedures – from aqueous methods to solvent-based techniques – and talked to several cleaning machine manufacturers. Based on cleaning tests conducted at Dürr Ecoclean's facility in Wixom, Mich., the company decided on the Universal 81C. This is a single-chamber, solvent-based, closed-loop cleaning system that uses no-chlorinated hydrocarbons. The fact that it operates completely under vacuum negates the need for additional explosion protection when using combustible solvents such as isoparaffinic hydrocarbons. Additionally, the machine offers multiple monitoring of safety-relevant temperatures and pressures.<br /> <br /> "With this closed-lop system we have achieved excellent cleaning results, we don't need water for cleaning, and we have no wastewater management issues," Hodgekins said. The old system, he noted, required two operators for eight hours a day to clean parts. Due to the fully automatic cleaning process with the Universal 81C, the manual labor for cleaning has dropped to one hour per day. "We save the equivalent of 15 hours' work each day."<br /> <br /> The system has been customized to the requirements of Superior Products and is equipped with three flooding tanks for coarse and fine cleaning, as well as for application of a conservation fluid specifically for the brass parts. This ensures that parts don't tarnish over time. The cleaning machine is configured for a multistage process comprising cleaning, rinsing, steam degreasing, and drying. Using the standard high-performance injection flood washing (IFW), and an optional ultrasonic system, the unit can perform complex cleaning tasks with high process reliability.<br /> <br /> DESIGN FEATURES<br /> <br /> A user-friendly design feature of the Universal 81C is the machine's ability to store eight freely programmable and selectable cleaning programs in its controller. The parameters include rotating and swiveling movements in the work chamber during cleaning and drying, temperature settings, ultrasonic characteristics, and IFW settings. In this way, the cleaning treatment can be customized to every part batch.<br /> <br /> "We are currently using three programs, and we are very satisfied with the cleaning results," Hodgekins stated. "There are no parts that need to be re-cleaned, and the cleaned parts surfaces show a rest-level of organic materials of only 5 to 6 mg/sq.ft. Compared with our old system's results, contamination has dropped by two thirds. This gives us very good peace of mind knowing that the machine is cleaning well above the standard."<br /> <br /> Another plus: the vacuum drying technique ensures that even parts with a complex geometry – e.g., bores, blind holes and undercuts – emerge from the process fully dried. The fully automatic vacuum distillation unit as well as full-flow and bypass filtration, which come as standard, remove oil and grease, chips, and swarf from the solvent on a continuous basis. As a result of these features, the cleaning fluid has a long life span.<br /> <br /> Depending on part geometry and sensitivity, parts are cleaned either in bulk-baskets or arranged in pin-racks used at Superior Products to carry the parts throughout the shop. Four of the baskets or pin-racks can be loaded into a carrier system, which was specially designed by Dürr Ecoclean. The batches get transported into the machine's cleaning chamber by an automatic conveyor feeding system, which is equipped with a proximity sensor that identifies the parts and chooses the appropriate cleaning program automatically. Depending on the program, the cleaning cycle takes between 8.5 and 9 minutes to complete.<br /> <br /> "Not only can we put anybody on the cleaning machine and they will do a good job, but the proximity sensor also saves a lot of manual labor," Hodgekins stated. And that translates into something that's priceless for the general manager: peace of mind.<br /> <br /> For more information on Dürr Ecoclean, Inc., please call (248) 560-2100 or visit www.durr-ecoclean.com. Superior Products, LLC can be reached at (216) 651-9400 or at www.superiorprod.com.<br />

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