The Cleaning Process and Equipment Relationship
Objective must be identified, followed by development of a process.
Anyone responsible for the implementation of a cleaning step within a manufacturing operation should understand the relationship between the cleaning process and the cleaning equipment. Though the two are different entities, they form a necessary symbiotic relationship. If either component fails to perform, the entire operation fails. On too many occasions, an engineer might assume that a standard cleaning system configuration will get the job done, only to be disappointed that it doesn’t meet expectations. The process cleans the parts and the equipment delivers that process; the two elements cannot perform independently.
Cleaning is simply filling and draining, or wetting and evacuating a part’s surface. Whether the process is aqueous or solvent, the active mechanisms involve wetting the target surface with chemistry, acting upon that surface and evacuating the byproduct of the interaction.
The cleaning objective must first be identified, followed by the development of a process that consistently meets this objective. Without an effective process, there is little need for equipment.
Science comes into play while determining when, how often and what to fill or wet with, the actions taken while it is filled and how to remove the resulting soil. The data from measuring cleanliness defines the process. The balance of the operation depends upon the equipment to deliver the correct process.
|Checklist for Cleaning Process Evaluation|
By understanding the fundamentals of what it takes to clean parts, the buyer can confidently evaluate the equipment delivering those mechanisms to achieve the cleaning objective:
The now mature concept of the Cleaning Triangle, with temporal and energy components, more precisely defines the process. Chemical, thermal and mechanical energies, along with exposure time to this set of parameters, constitutes the cleaning process itself. Chemical and thermal aspects are chosen depending on the scope of the performed work. A cleaning compound may be used to condition the soil for easier removal, while an alternate compound might be used to address the soil and modify a metal surface (cleaning and finishing in a one process step). The addition of mechanical energy serves to not only accelerate the interaction, but also serves as a process delivery mechanism (agitation/flushing to liberate entrapped air).