In simple terms, industrial parts cleaning (sometimes called washing) is just removing dirt from surfaces. If only it WAS that easy! Dirt removal is only one of 10’s if not 100’s of interdependent steps in a successful cleaning process. The scope of parts cleaning extends from processing of the raw materials, through the manufacturing process and right up to the point that the item, whatever it may be, is delivered and in its final use.
In my years of developing and troubleshooting cleaning processes I have seen how infrequently the dirt removal step poses the biggest real challenge in the overall cleaning process. The challenge includes everything that surrounds and supports the dirt removal process. Where did the dirt come from, why is it there, why does it need to be removed, and finally, where does it go once it is removed? Dirt, it seems, is another one of those things that is neither created nor destroyed. It just moves from one place to another. This thinking, by the way, leads to an ongoing controversy between my wife and me about the question of do you dust first or vacuum first when cleaning the house. Which do you do first – and why?
So, although we will be spending considerable time in this blog discussing dirt removal, we will, of necessity, be discussing the steps that surround and support that process as well. How, for example, we might be able to prevent or simplify the cleaning task by keeping things clean throughout the manufacturing process. Describing measures that can be taken to make the “necessary” dirt easier to remove. Discussing how part design can make parts easier to clean. Indeed, cleaning should be a consideration from the very outset of the design of a part.
Finally, the entire process must be developed not to clean a single part but, rather, hundreds, thousands or even 10’s of thousands of parts quickly, with consistent results and with a minimum use of resources. Cleaning a single part in a testing laboratory is seldom a challenge. Cleaning the same part in mass quantities using the same process found successful in laboratory testing can be next to impossible.