Cleaning and drying in the aerospace industry

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology

ISSN: 0002-2667

Article publication date: 1 June 2000




(2000), "Cleaning and drying in the aerospace industry", Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, Vol. 72 No. 3.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

Cleaning and drying in the aerospace industry

Keywords MecWash Systems, Cleaning, Drying

"The use of a dedicated washing and drying system from MecWash Systems Ltd - installed at point of use - has enhanced the quality of the cleaning process and plays a key role in the efficient production of forged components." The benefits arising from the installation of a MecWash Solo washing machine at its Leicester plant are, according to SPS Technologies, clear cut and significant.

The organisation, one of the world's leading manufacturers of specialist aerospace components, is said to be now gaining both from the performance and the "point of use" benefits arising from the MecWash machine. The company has installed the unit as part of its "Hilok" collar production cell which produces fasteners that are used extensively throughout aerospace. The components comprise a titanium pin and stainless steel collar which hold carbon fibre sheets together in a range of locations throughout an aircraft. Their performance, and thus their quality of manufacture, are clearly critical.

The MecWash Solo, a self-contained washing and drying unit, features the company's rotational washing system. According to the manufacturers this has been proven in repeated installations to produce high quality cleaning results, particularly in the removal of machine swarf, while its compact design allows it to be easily installed adjacent to, or as part of, a manufacturing line.

Elie Dalmar is special products manager at the company's Leicester premises which not only houses an extensive manufacturing facility but also acts as the European Headquarters for the American-based organisation. He draws attention to key features of the process and the benefits arising from the MecWash technology - "We manufacture approximately 250,000 'Hilok' pins and collars each week - all of which, given their application, must meet the most exacting quality standards", he says.

"The machine is located between the processes and receives batches of components in standard European tote pans, each containing some 3,500 pieces. These are loaded into the Solo with the aid of a roller conveyor, also installed by MecWash", he continues, "and are subjected to a washing and drying cycle of no more than 20 minutes, which, importantly, also cleans the tote pan itself." He emphasises this latter point believing the Solo to be the only machine of its type available which is able to produce clean and dry tote pans as well as components.

"Before the installation of this machine, we used a variety of techniques none of which were able to provide the immediate standard of results we can now achieve or, indeed, offer the degree of reliability that we anticipate obtaining from the MecWash Solo", he adds. He also highlights the need to remove both machining oil and swarf from each component ahead of secondary finishing operations.

"The installation at SPS Technologies requires no special chemical solutions", comments MecWash Director, Paul Young, "and is particularly suited to the application because of the powerful high volume spray wash method used by the Solo." Coupled with rotation of the tote pan and components, effectiveness of the cleaning and drying process is maximised. The wash solution is recycled through a filter system minimising water consumption and disposal requirements.

Details available from: MecWash Systems Ltd. Tel: +44 (0) 1684 271600.

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