Determining Cleanliness – A Look Into Our Test Lab

parts-cleaning-test_lab

Not all cleanliness requirements are equal. Various parts in different industries require different cleanliness levels to optimize product performance and, in many instances, to meet safety standards. For example, removing chips and oils from automotive parts is different than cleaning and sanitizing filling components for pharmaceutical products. The latter requires a higher level of cleanliness.

Why Test?

There are many different types of cleaning systems to help meet these individual needs. Thus, it is imperative to choose the appropriate machine to suit the particular application and comply with any industry regulations.

How do you know if the machine will perform to your cleanliness requirements, though? The answer is to perform a parts cleaning test on the items in question prior to manufacturing. Before you can begin testing, you must determine what type of part is being cleaned and what contaminants are being removed. You also need to know how the end-user will utilize the part.

The goal of testing is to simulate the actual cleaning process to determine its efficacy. The customer is then assured that the machine will perform as needed and deliver the expected cleaning results. With this in mind, the manufacturer designs and builds a machine specifically for the customer’s particular parts and cleaning process. This process saves the customer time and money.

Testing Methods

Just as there are different types of parts and cleaning requirements, different tests determine part cleanliness. Various testing methods include:

  • Gravimetric testing relies on a final determination of weight as a means of quantifying a particulate substance whose components are being measured.
  • Microscopic analysis is observation through a microscope to determine the number, size, and quantity of the particles. Particles photographed through the microscope are measured for reporting.
  • Dyne testing is a standard method of assessing the cleanliness of a material’s surface by using a dyne’s fluid. Dyne testing determines the surface energy and measures the surface tension of a liquid.
  • Blacklight testing uses UVA light to see contaminants such as oils, cutting fluids, bacteria, and mold that are not visible otherwise.
  • Water break testing is a simple method that uses DI water to verify surface part cleanliness. Water beads on a surface that contains oily residues; if the water does not bead then the surface is free of contaminants.

BE’s Parts Cleaning Test Capabilities

Better Engineering has a complete, state-of-the-art Engineering Process Lab and Machine Test Center. Here, we perform parts cleaning tests and we validate your cleaning process. Our test technicians utilize the various test techniques listed to evaluate your parts and develop a cleaning system specific to your application.

Our test center comprises machinery from each of our product lines, featuring turntable washers, conveyor washers, drum washers, tumbling washers, and immersion washers. Testing across these machines enables us to determine what type of system will best meet your cleaning specifications. Testing your parts helps you reach your cleanliness specifications and adhere to industry-specific guidelines.

We feel that seeing is believing, so we invite you to visit our test center in Joppa, MD, for a complimentary test part cleaning. If you cannot make it to Maryland, then send us your parts for testing. We will return them to you along with a detailed report of our process, the results, and the recommended machinery so you can be confident in making your parts cleaning system decision. Better Engineering specializes in building custom systems. Contact Us for additional information or to schedule your FREE parts cleaning test.

Return Conveyor Tote Washer – Case Study 23189

return conveyor tote washer
return conveyor tote washer load-unload ends
Return conveyor tote washer load-unload ends

Background:

This company is a warehouse supplier to a leading grocery store chain in the Mid-Atlantic and East North Central United States. Specifically, the warehouse facility operates a piece-pick area where individual products are picked, placed in plastic totes, loaded onto trucks, and shipped to the various store locations to keep shelves stocked.

Parts Cleaning Challenge:

The facility processes large quantities of grocery products for the distribution of both food and non-food items. These products are placed in various totes ranging in size from 19″ x 12″ x 7″ to 22″ x 16″ x 17″, many of which have attached flap lids. 

The totes can accumulate factory dirt, dust, or contain spilled contents from broken bottles such as jelly or shampoo. Consequently, this foreign matter needs to be cleaned to prevent contamination of the grocery items.

The FDA has regulations in place regarding the distribution of food. As a result, the facility needed an efficient way to clean the large volume of these various-sized containers to be in compliance. They also wanted an exit conveyor to return the totes back towards the infeed station.

Solution/System:

In this case, the solution was a model C-24 stainless steel conveyor washer with 24-inch wide flat-wire belting and a return conveyor belt. In addition, the belt has pushers every 24 inches to help move the totes through the system. Moreover, fixed side guide rails hold the lid flaps at a slight angle to promote water drainage. Furthermore, the system has three stages: wash, rinse, and heated dry with two air cannons in the dry module to blow standing water off the totes. The variable frequency drive (VFD) has a 1-10 FPM speed allowing the system to process one tote every 20 seconds (6 FPM). Also, the unit is fully insulated to conserve energy.

Other system features include:

  • steam exhaust system
  • electronic eye to sense parts
  • locking door switches
  • door safety switches
  • marine clean-out door
  • oil skimmer
  • automatic timers
  • multiple water level controls

Please contact us to learn more about cleaning applications and systems like this!

Tote Bin Washer for Food Distribution – Case Study 22570

c-24 tote bin washer
Guide Rails on Tote Bin Washer
Guide Rails on Tote Bin Washer

Background:

This family-owned company specializes in the manufacturing and distribution of food and food-related products. Significantly, the company is a leading national foodservice distributor to restaurants, casinos, resorts, healthcare facilities, educational facilities, and more. Because of this, they utilize a variety of totes and bins in the distribution of products.

Parts Cleaning Challenge:

The FDA has regulations in place for food distribution. In order to be in compliance, these plastic totes and bins need to be cleaned regularly to remove dirt, organic food matter, and other materials to prevent the contamination of the food in transport. Employees at the facility manually washed 400 plastic totes a day, 18″ x 26″ x 6″, with a power washer, the results of which did not meet cleaning requirements. Consequently, the process was inefficient and wasted water and human resources.  With this in mind, they needed an automated system to effectively clean a large volume of totes for reuse.

Solution/System:

The solution was a model C-24 tote bin washer with a 24-inch-wide belt, a 20-inch working height, and consisting of 3-stages: recirculated wash, recirculated rinse, and short blow-off with a 10 HP regenerative blower. Another key point is that the totes are loaded onto the conveyor on edge.

In addition, adjustable side guide rails support the totes and can accommodate new bins of other sizes. Furthermore, the throughput is 400 totes/day in a single 8-hour shift. Other system features include insulation, safety guards on the load and unload ends, automatic 24-hour/7-day timer, filtration rated for 200 GPM, and a steam exhaust system.

Results:

The results were that the automated tote washer provided consistent and thorough cleaning of all totes, ensuring that the company met regulatory cleaning guidelines. Likewise, they increased their productivity, utilized their human resources in other areas, and saved money on water.

Please contact us to learn more about cleaning applications and systems like this!

Cleaning and Sanitizing Medical Waste Containers – Case Study 23210

Cleaning and Sanitizing Medical Waste Containers
Ramp for Cleaning Medical Waste Containers
Ramp for Cleaning Medical Waste Containers

Background:

This company is a leading provider of environmental and industrial services for companies and government agencies and is an expert in hazardous waste management and removal. In particular, the company provides onsite pickup and replacement of Sharps® containers and medical waste bins from medical facilities. Effective cleaning and sanitizing of medical waste containers is crucial for FDA compliance. For this reason, container contents are properly disposed of, and then the containers are cleaned, sanitized, and placed back in the field for service.

Parts Cleaning Challenge:

Firstly, the customer needed to clean and sanitize a variety of Sharps® containers and medical waste bins ranging in sizes of 2-gallon and 3-gallon Sharps® containers and 10-gallon, 17-gallon, 31-gallon, and 43-gallon medical waste bins. Secondly, the bins also needed to be manually loaded directly from the freight dock to the washer.

Solution/System:

In this case, the solution was a stainless steel Cyberjet conveyor washer with a 36” inch wide belt. The belt is divided into two lanes by guide rails, one lane for the Sharps® containers and one for the medical waste bins. While Sharps® container lids are placed in a basket to be washed in the second lane.

This system is comprised of 3-stages: recirculated wash (sanitize to 180°+ F), recirculated rinse, and a short blow-off with a 15 HP regenerative blower. Additionally, the system throughput is 200 containers/hour. Furthermore, a conveyor ramp was attached to feed the bins directly from the freight door to the load end of the washer. The unit also features steam heat for the wash and rinse stages and a steam exhaust system.

Additional features include:

  • in-line micron filter
  • electronic eye sensors at the unload end of the conveyor
  • locking door switches
  • marine clean-out doors
  • valve to siphon detergent into a water fill line

Please contact us to learn about more cleaning applications like this!

Tower Garden Cleaning – Case Study 22902

vertical farming tower garden cleaning
Conveyor Washer for Tower Garden Cleaning
Conveyor Washer for Tower Garden Cleaning

Background:

Indoor vertical farming is a sustainable agricultural initiative that can produce more food from fewer land and water resources. Indoor food growers need to keep their environments clean and free of unwanted bacteria to prevent food contamination. Vertical farming uses food-growing towers that can be as tall as 15 ft. and weigh as much as 30 lbs. each. Tower garden cleaning is essential to food safety.

Parts Cleaning Challenge:

Organic plant material and soil need to be removed from the food growing towers after each cultivation and the towers need to be thoroughly cleaned. Consequently, manually cleaning the towers by hand is a tedious and cumbersome process.

Solution/System:

In this case, the solution was a C-14 conveyor washer that automatically cleans the tower garden sections after each cultivation. The food is cultivated, most of the growing soil is removed for re-use, and the metal growing sections are then sent through the conveyor washer where they are blasted with hot water to remove residual dirt. Compressed air at the end of the wash section blows water off of the parts. The sections are then ready to be re-packed with dirt and seeded. The single-stage, recirculated spray module has an increased length of 144” and processes parts at 33 FPM. A special belt was designed to hold the parts in place and special manifolds ensure that both the ID and the OD of the sections are cleaned.

The system also features:

  • 350-gallon heated tank
  • 10 HP pump
  • marine clean-out door
  • hinged canopy access lids for complete access
  • Allen Bradley PLC & 600 Panelview
  • multiple water level controls
  • electronic eye sensors at the load and unload ends
  • stainless steel construction.

Please contact us to learn about more cleaning applications like this!

Removing Hardened Resin from Ceramic Turbine Blade Castings- Case Study 22993

Parts Washer to Remove Hardened Resin
Containment Divider
Containment Divider

Background:

This company manufactures high-performance products for high-technology companies, government agencies, and academic institutions. One of the products they manufacture in particular is ceramic turbine blade castings for the aerospace industry. For this reason, lithographic etching and CNC machining are combined to produce master patterns and high-resolution lithographic inserts for these highly complex three-dimensional parts.

Parts Cleaning Challenge:

The process begins with 3D printing the model in a wax-like resin. This resin hardens on the molds and is difficult to remove. As a result, the challenge was to remove hardened resin from the ceramic turbine blade molds.

Solution/System:

In this case, the solution was a Cyberjet conveyor washer with a 14” wide belt with a recirculated spray wash and two recirculated spray rinse zones. A temperature of at least 165° F has to be maintained, the wash tanks and rinse tanks were increased to 225 gallons each, and the heater elements increased to 27 kW in order to remove the hardened resin. The throughput is one fixture of parts every 8 minutes, and pusher bars were affixed to the belt to help maintain a specific distance in the center of each module.

In addition, a wax removal basket and containment divider was designed for every stage. The system also included marine cleanout doors for both the wash and rinse stages for easy maintenance. A steam containment door was installed at the exit side of the machine instead of spray curtains to limit the amount of time steam can escape from the unit. Altogether, this type of system worked well as this was an indexing unit, loaded and unloaded robotically. The system also featured:

  • Allen Bradley CompactLogix PLC and Panelview
  • variable frequency drive controls
  • water level controls
  • locking lid safety switches
  • safety guarding on the load and unload ends to cover bearings and sprockets
  • electronic pressure switches
  • in-line bag filters
  • insulation for the entire system

Please contact us to learn about more cleaning applications like this!

The Future of Food Safety

food safety

Food safety is vital to public health. Foodborne illnesses are preventable public health problems that sicken millions of people yearly. The food safety system spans from the farm to processing, packaging, transporting, distributing, storing, preparing, and serving food, and contaminants can enter anywhere along this chain. Increased globalization means food is produced and processed in larger volumes and distributed over greater distances than ever before, exposing people worldwide to different hazards.

There is an increased awareness regarding food safety among the public. The Coronavirus pandemic changed the way we view food safety. In particular, shifting consumer habits and creating pressure on producers to keep pace with increased demand and uphold the highest quality and safety standards.

Factors Affecting Food Safety

The global pandemic created a dramatic growth in online grocery shopping, putting a strain on local and international supply chains. As a result, food handlers, retailers, and wholesalers must develop greater collaboration with all supply chain partners to ensure food sold to consumers is free from biological, chemical, or physical contaminants. This growth is expected to continue in the future. According to “The Digitally Engaged Food Shopper” report, consumers could be spending 100 billion dollars a year on online grocery shopping. Therefore, partners in the food supply chain must continue to improve operational efficiency to meet consumer demands and guarantee food safety.

Frequently, environmental factors, such as climate change and water scarcity play a role in the safety of our food supply. Firstly, climate change and increased temperatures can directly impact food by altering foodborne pathogens and parasites’ occurrence frequency or virulence. Thus, increasing their chances of survival, requiring a greater emphasis on food safety practices.

Secondly, water is a scarce natural resource necessary for a variety of purposes. Optimizing water resources is vital to the food industry. Water is used for cleaning food and for cleaning the facility and equipment used in direct contact with food. 

Regulatory Standards

The food industry prioritizes hygiene, cleaning, sanitation, disease control and prevention, and traceability to help safeguard food safety. Operational procedures need to focus on process flow, establish standardization, maximize efficiency, and prioritize safe, quality products. Regulatory food safety standards such as FSMA, HACCP, and GMP establish food safety guidelines and standards to ensure products are free of physical, allergenic, chemical, and biological hazards. Consequently, these standards shifted the food industry from reactive to proactive. Facilities now focus on preventing contamination and food poisoning rather than simply testing food to determine safety.

Better Engineering’s Cleaning Systems

BE designs automated cleaning and sanitizing systems to accommodate all stages of the food supply chain from farm to processing, packaging, transportation, and distribution. With this in mind, our machines include modular conveyor/tunnel washers, batch washers, bin and vat washers, rack washers, cabinet washers, and other custom-made solutions. System stages include wash, rinse, sanitize, and dry cycles. Likewise, our sanitary lines of cleaning systems are hygienic by design and feature stainless steel construction, full internal welds, complete access, and compliance with 3-A standards. 

We work closely with food producers to design a system specific to each application. With this in mind, these highly versatile systems optimize production processes and ensure effective hygienic cleaning of items such as:

  • totes
  • trays
  • crates
  • bins
  • Macrobins
  • pans
  • racks
  • reusable plastic containers
  • buckets
  • drums
  • pallets
  • filling equipment
  • funnels
  • molds
  • other processing equipment

Our machines meet regulatory agencies’ food and safety standards set by FSMA, HACCP, and GMP, ensuring products are free of physical, allergenic, chemical, and biological hazards. Hence, Better Engineering’s automated cleaning and sanitizing machines play an integral role in facilities’ preventive controls. Specifically, by ensuring repeatability of the process flow, increasing productivity, lowering the cost of human and natural resources, and preventing contamination.

Customers can count on Better Engineering to find a cleaning solution that matches their needs. To demonstrate, our test lab will test your parts free of charge. We guarantee the system you choose will always meet your cleanliness standards. Please speak with one of our machine specialists today to learn more about Better Engineering’s conveyor washers and how they fit into your application.

What are Conveyor Washers?

What is a conveyor washer

Conveyor washers are inline washing machines that utilize conveyor belts to move or pass parts through a tunnel for cleaning stages. These machines are also often referred to as inline washers, pass-through washers, tunnel washers, and belt washers. Conveyor machines wash parts directly in a production line and are often used for high-volume cleaning applications. 

Conveyor Washer Design

BE builds standard conveyor washers with wash, rinse, and dry modules/cycles and uses environmentally safe water-based solutions for cleaning applications. Additional cycles for rinsing, rust-inhibiting, sealing, phosphate coating, and sanitizing can also be added. Better Engineering constructs conveyor washers with a modular design. This allows customers to easily add modules/cycles in the field with only bolts. These systems are versatile and can integrate into a handling line or function as stand-alone systems. 

These washers can range from single-stage, wash-only systems to large, multi-stage systems, and the flow can be continuous, indexing, or intermittent to accommodate different processes. Splash curtains or with zone dividers separate modules to help prevent cross-contamination from one zone to another. Belt widths also vary in size from small, 6-inch wide belts to belts as wide as 150-inches. Other variables involved in building a conveyor washer include tunnel height, weight capacity, tank size, load and unload requirements, and heating methods (electric, gas, or steam). High-quality systems have stainless steel construction, so they are resistant to corrosion. 

Types of Belts

Conveyor washers use various belt options such as continuous flat-wire, wire mesh, interlocking plastic, roller, and chain belts. These fixtures anchor parts in place. Guide rails, either fixed or adjustable, secure components to the belt. Additionally, BE builds systems that are linear or designed with U-bend, inclined and also return conveyor belts. streamline workflow and create an efficient and cost-effective solution to handling parts.

Applications

Industries served by conveyor washers include general manufacturing, automotive, aerospace, machining, surface preparation, food, pharma, medical, cosmetic, and more. Conveyor washers suit a wide variety of cleaning applications such as: 

  • removing chips, oils, grease, coolants, and buffing compound from machine parts, castings, housings, and stampings
  • cleaning before powder coating, deburring, brazing, blasting, welding, or other surface cleanliness critical post-process
  • remove fats, sugars, oils, allergens, and other organic material from food manufacturing processes
  • sanitize components used in food, pharma, medical, and cosmetic processes

Customization

There is no single solution to accommodate every different type of part in such a variety of industries. Each application has different machine needs based on the level of cleaning required. Better Engineering’s machines can comply with several manufacturing standards as FSMAHACCP, and GMP.

Better Engineering’s conveyor washers are highly customizable to meet each customer’s individual needs. Additionally, machines may include robotic integration, high-pressure pumps, high-speed belts, vacuum drying, and several other features.

Customers can count on Better Engineering to find a cleaning solution that matches their needs. Our test lab can test your parts free of charge. We Guarantee the system you choose will always meet your cleanliness standards.

Speak with one of our machine specialists today to learn more about Better Engineering’s conveyor washers and how they fit into your application.

Using Ultrasonics to Clean Medical Devices

medical-device-cleaned-with-ultrasonics

Challenges with Cleaning Medical Devices

Integrating ultrasonics with immersion washers has proven to be an effective way to clean intricate medical devices. Before processing them for distribution, cleaning medical devices pose a unique problem to manufacturers due to their intricate and delicate nature.  Any residue left behind from the manufacturing process could affect the device’s intended purpose or cause adverse health effects for the person receiving the device. 

Many medical devices such as stents, prosthetics, implants, and other devices like ventilator equipment or testing tubes must meet strict guidelines set by the FDA.  

Medical devices like these can be difficult to clean due to intricacies, small holes, recesses, and crevices that can gather dirt and residuals. 

Cleaning Solutions 

Ultrasonic cleaning kills bacteria and other pathogens through physical means and temperature rather than by a chemical reaction. This removes any need for harsh compounds. 

Ultrasonic cleaning uses bubbles induced by high-frequency pressure (sound) waves to agitate a liquid. In addition, the agitation produces high forces on contaminants adhering to substrates like metals, plastics, glass, rubber, and ceramics. This action also penetrates blind holes, cracks, and recesses.

Ultrasonic cleaners can also remove soil from joints, crevices, lumens, and other areas that are difficult to clean using other methods. To accomplish this fine cleaning, ultrasonic cleaners use a process known as cavitation.

How Do Medical Parts Cleaning Systems Work? 

Once placed inside the immersion washer, parts are submerged underwater where a process called cavitation takes place. Cavitation uses sound waves to create bubbles within the liquid. The bubbles then travel up through the liquid and implode when they hit the object within the parts washer. The force of the bubbles imploding loosens soils and debris with force. 

Ultrasonic parts washers can emit sound waves between the frequencies of 25 kHz to 40 kHz. Medical devices need to be cleaned with high frequencies so that the complexities and details in the devices can be reached and any microscopic soils can be removed. Whereas, lower frequencies are most often used for removing contaminants like grease and oil from surfaces.

These ultrasonic features in combination with detergent and agitation within the immersion washer leave medical devices microscopically clean. 

Choosing An Aqueous Parts Washer 

Better Engineering’s ImmersoSonic line comes with optional ultrasonic cleaning, perfect for your medical device needs.  We have the ultrasonic capabilities you need and many of our parts washers can integrate directly into your current production line. 

View Better Engineering’s ImmersoSonic Systems

Multi-tank systems are most effective in cleaning medical devices. Multi-tank immersion systems remove large particles in the early stages of cleaning. This ensures large particles do not interfere with the later stages of sanitation. 

Better Engineering machines comply with and exceed all regulatory safety standards such as GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) guidelines.

Customers can count on Better Engineering to find a cleaning solution that matches their needs. In our test lab, we can test your parts free of charge. This guarantees the system you choose always meets your cleanliness standards.

Is an aqueous parts washer the solution to your needs? To find out, speak with one of our machine specialists today.

Cleaning & Sanitizing MacroBins

This farm is a global producer of potatoes. They utilize MacroBins in the harvesting of their crops and needed to clean and sanitize these MacroBins to prevent food-borne bacteria contamination.

They needed a machine that could clean 1,000 MacroBins (with ventilation) per 8-hour day. This stainless steel conveyor washer has a 48-inch wide belt to accommodate these large bins and was designed with three stages: a recirculated heated wash stage to sanitize at 140° F, a fresh rinse stage with optional heat if needed, and a short blow-off stage.

The system has a working height of 32-inches and load/unload heights of 40-inches. The flat-wire conveyor belt has a variable frequency drive and 600 gallons tank. Along with filters on the wash and rinse, the machine is also equipped with marine clean-out doors for easy maintenance, electronic eyes to sense parts and control the unload end, and a Dema valve to automatically control the introduction of detergent.