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Fishing for Parts

What are some tips for retrieving parts that fall into plating tanks?
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Q. We operate an automated plating line and have a fair number of parts falling into the tanks. Because our tanks now contain various “bits and pieces” of heat exchangers, pumps and plumbing, retrieving these parts can be difficult. Poor visibility in the tanks is also a problem. Do you have any suggestions as to what we might do? –G.D.

A. The best solution to your problem is to use netting to retrieve “drops” like the parts you describe. I first saw this approach to solving the problem many years ago at a facility that plated hardware for furniture. Many of the pieces were small, such as hinges and drawer pulls. The netting was placed in the tanks in such a way that the heat exchangers and other components inside the tanks were covered by the netting. At the end of a shift, the netting was carefully lifted and the parts collected in the netting were put either back into the plating line or scrapped, depending on their condition. This particular facility was quite religious about doing this on a daily basis.

I don't have a good handle on what the best netting material would be. You will have to experiment to determine what holds up best in your various plating and rinsing tanks. In addition, you should drain your tanks on a regular basis to remove any parts that managed to slip through the netting.

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