Planning a Cleaning Solution for Optimum Performance

Cleaning solutions are complex and often involve the cooperation of several different departments, so Pero’s Walter Mueck shows how a cleaning project needs methodical planning to find the optimum cleaning process.


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Q: In our daily work, we find out that cleaning projects start at some stage and miss any methodology. Consequently, a cleaning process will be installed that will not necessarily be the most cost effective and efficient. In the worst case, the start of production is delayed or functional faults and rejects result. Our customers risk loss of time, money and reputation. What is the best cleaning methodology?

A: The process of planning a cleaning solution is complex and often involves the cooperation of several different departments. A cleaning project needs methodical planning so that one finds the optimum cleaning process for a specific factory in time. The methodology employed by the project manager will determine the success of the project and the reliability of the cleaning process.

In all areas of manufacturing, the subsequent stages of the process determine the requirements for cleaning components and assemblies. Contaminant films and particles can cause problems with the quality and appearance of the product. In the worst-case scenario, they can lead to functional faults and a large number of rejects. Parts cleaning plays an important role at different stages of the manufacturing process. Managers of parts cleaning projects need to have an overview of the entire production process; current cleaning methods; types of machine available; appropriate cleaning agents; and results that can be achieved cost effectively. The planning method is, therefore, a key factor in the success of the project.

Awareness of the Overall Context

Components are produced using predefined processes and special manufacturing supplies. In addition, they are generally manufactured individually from a specific raw material. Each manufacturing process produces a different type of contamination. Changes to the process (such as the use of different cooling lubricants) often have an impact on the subsequent cleaning phase and the results it produces.

In order to achieve the required level of cleanliness reliably and cost effectively, the production process must be analyzed (requiring engineering) and the cleaning process has to be designed to suit the production conditions. In addition, the entire manufacturing and cleaning procedure should be clearly documented.

The role of the project manager includes championing the cause of parts cleaning within the organization, as cleaning always involves additional costs. However, in many areas of industry, only parts that have been cleaned can achieve the necessary standard of quality and performance.

If project managers are familiar with the management objectives (such as plans for future products and new customer groups), they can carry out an accurate assessment of the cleaning work involved. In addition, they can include the cost of an appropriate cleaning machine in the budget and ensure that the cleaning solution will meet the future needs of the production process.

Bringing Everyone on Board

Experts from several different departments need to be involved in planning cleaning solutions. It is important not to underestimate the human factor. If the parts cleaning process is planned purely from a commercial perspective, the technical specialists may put obstacles in its way. Bringing everyone involved on board at an early stage will help to ensure that the project can be completed on schedule.

Experience shows that the larger the organization, the longer the process of obtaining approval for investment projects. A cleaning project that is clearly described and effectively presented will be more likely to be approved quickly by the purchasing department. If the company’s safety representative is involved in the project during the early phases, he will be able to give the go-ahead at the decisive moment because he has already established that the project complies with regulations relating to chemicals and cleaning agents and with local, regional, national and international legislation.

Automation experts are often needed to integrate the cleaning system into the production line. The project manager should include enough time in the schedule to reach an agreement with suppliers, because the cleaning system and production facilities need to be connected to the internal IT system. Data formats and access permissions must be decided early in the project.

It is important to ensure that the production and plant managers, production engineering specialists, management team and purchasing manager have all the necessary information when the project reaches the decision-making phase.

In addition, the machine operator must be consulted during this phase of the project or the cleaning system may not pass the acceptance stage at the start of production.

Demonstrating Goals Have Been Achieved

Modern parts manufacturing processes are varied and have individual requirements. As a result, the contamination that they produce is highly specific. If a cleaning process is designed systematically and tested in real cleaning machines, it is possible to demonstrate that it can reliably achieve the required level of cleanliness before the cleaning system is integrated into the production line.

This makes it possible to identify the results that can be produced by different cleaning agents and choose the ideal product. By taking a methodical approach to a cleaning project and running cleaning tests using original contaminated components, the chosen cleaning agent and the stages in the process can be described in detail. In addition, the results can be documented. This is the ideal preparation for the in-house project meeting and choosing which system to buy.

If the cost-effectiveness of the cleaning solution has been calculated during the planning phase, a well-informed decision can be made. Using the correct methodology allows the volume of parts to be determined at an early stage and this, in turn, makes it possible to tell at the start of the project whether an external or an internal cleaning solution will be more financially viable.

Cleaning systems mostly fulfill a key function in the factory environment. The right cleaning project method and transparency will provide confidence to all parties involved and deliver in time a reliable, tailor-made cleaning solution.

Walter Mueck is a business economist at Pero AG. Steffen Achatz, a cleaning specialist, contributed to this article.