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.

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.

Choosing an Aqueous Parts Washer

Aqueous Parts Washers

Selecting an aqueous parts washer that meets all of your cleaning needs can be challenging. Parts washers are rarely one-size-fits-all and it can be difficult to decide what type of machine will bring your company the most value. To make the process easier, when choosing an aqueous cleaning solution there are three main questions you should ask yourself before purchasing.

How Clean is Clean Enough

Deciding the level of cleanliness you need your parts washer to perform will be a key factor in choosing a machine. Better Engineering’s aqueous parts washers can clean across a large spectrum of needs. Options span from visibly clean to microscopically clean.

Machines that clean to visible standards are perfect for those looking to remove remnants such as dirt, grease, grime, and other contaminants. Therefore, these heavy-duty cleaning systems ideal for manufacturing and industrial rebuild/repair industries.

Meanwhile, companies part of federally regulated industries will likely need parts cleaned to the highest hygienic standards. Better Engineering’s machines meet and exceed cGMP, FSMA, and HACCP standards and can easily remove biological hazards. These sanitization machines are well suited for the food/beverage, pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, and medical industries.

What Size and Shape are the Parts

If the parts that you need to be cleaned are small, you may be interested in a drum washer or immersion washer. Drum and immersion washers clean small items quickly and efficiently. However, large such as totes or dunnage may be best cleaned by conveyor or turntable washers. These machines clean large items quickly and efficiently and can be customized with robot arm integration.

How Fast Does the Parts Washer Need to Operate

Your company likely has requirements for how many parts need to be cleaned on a daily, hourly, or weekly basis. Because of this, is important to take into consideration how quickly a machine cleans parts when choosing a machine. This will ensure that the machine meets your company’s parts cleaning needs and cleaning deadlines.

Companies with high volume needs will likely machine with high levels of automation and robot integration. Companies looking to clean a few parts per day may find more value in an operator-run machine.

If you are unsure of the type of machine that may best fit your needs, contact us. Better Engineering has a complete Engineering Process Lab and Machine Demonstration Test Center to test and evaluate your parts. These processes help you find the perfect aqueous parts washer for your application. For a complimentary parts cleaning consultation, speak to a Better Engineering machine specialist today.

Understanding The Basics of Parts Cleaning

T.A.C.T Cleaning 01 | Better Engineering - Aqueous Based Industrial Parts Washers

Successful parts cleaning is dependent upon four inseparable variables: time, action/impingement, chemical/concentration, and temperature. These four variables are consistent of virtually all water-based cleaning applications, whether you are washing machined metal parts or your car or dishes at home. Changing any of these factors will increase or decrease the effectiveness of the process.

Time

The amount of time the cleaning agent is exposed to soils is very important for efficient cleaning. If residue is not exposed long enough to the wash cycle, then soil removal may become more difficult. Time for rinse stages should be considered along with wash stages. Rinse cycles are used to remove any detergent and possible soil left remaining. If a rinse cycle is not long enough, there may be detergent residue left behind.

Action/Impingement

Action is the type of cleaning method that will be used. In spray washers, spray impingement is defined as the pressure and volume of the spray. The distance from the spray jet/nozzle to the part Is also an important factor. The closer the nozzle is to the part, the stronger the spray impingement. Ultrasonics also increase impingement in immersion systems.

Chemical and Concentration

Chemical and concentration are selected to remove a specific contaminant from a part without harming the material.

Temperature

Cleaning efficacy increases as the water temperature increases, until top operating temperature of the chemical solution is reached.

Better Engineering has a complete Engineering Process Lab and Machine Demonstration Test Center to test and evaluate your parts and processes to help develop a TACT system specific for your application. For a complimentary parts cleaning consultation, contact Better Engineering via email or phone at 1-800-229-3380.

Methods to Determining Cleanliness in Parts Washing

water break test

In many industries, parts need to be cleaned thoroughly before or after being manufactured, during a production process, or before being used to process a new batch of material. Automatic parts washers are often used to insure that parts are cleaned precisely. But how can you be sure that your parts are really clean? What are the methods to determine parts washing cleanliness? The following are just a few of the methods used to assess if a part is actually clean:

Water-Break Test:
Water will sheet off the part rather than bead
  • Take a cleaned and dried part and set it in a vertical position
  • Use a spray bottle containing distilled water
  • Spray the part two to three times from at least 6″ away
  • The water spray should sheet off if the part is clean and free of oily residue
  • The water will tend to bead on the part if some oily residue remains
UV Black Light:
Can you see fluorescence on the parts when viewed using a black light?
  • Take the cleaned and dried part and the black light into a dark area
  • In the dark area, shine the black light onto the part 
  • It should not highlight any fluorescence if the part is free of soils
  • You should see some florescence where the soil is present if some soil remains
  • You should check a dirty part for florescence to ensure that the soil emits a florescence when viewed under a black light
Clean-wipe test:
Will a white cloth remain white after being rubbed on the cleaned part?
  • Take the cleaned and dried part and wipe it with a portion of a clean, white, lint-free cloth. 
  • The part is sufficiently clean if the cloth remains clean
  • The part still contains soil residue if the cloth becomes soiled or discolored
Gravimetric testing:
Will tell how much contaminate is left on the part
  • Involves filtering a contaminated sample through a control filter and a sample filter
  • Place two pre-weighed filters, one on top of the other in a single filter holder
  • Sample contaminants will be retained entirely by the top test filter
  • Both filters are subjected to identical alterations in tare weight as a result of moisture
  • Any change in weight of the bottom (“control”) filter is then applied as a correction to the weight of contaminant
  • Results accurate to 0.1 mg are routinely attained using this method

Better Engineering uses these methods and more to assess and insure the proper cleanliness in the parts washing process. BE has a full engineering lab and machine demonstration center to test clean your parts according to your application. For a complimentary parts washing consultation, contact Better Engineering via email or phone at 1-800-229-3380.