Why Choose a Tunnel Washer?

The tunnel washer, also known as a conveyor parts washer, is a spray washer used in various industries. Tunnel washers are designed to clean a high volume of parts with a relatively simple part geometry. Remember, spray washers clean by “line of sight”, and often struggle to clean parts with crevasses and hidden passageways. This article will discuss how a tunnel washer works, the types of tunnel washers, estimated water consumption, and how much a tunnel washer costs.

How does a tunnel washer work?

A tunnel washer is an industrial parts washer that uses spray technology to clean parts. Functionally, parts are loaded onto a conveyor belt, which then progresses through a fully enclosed tunnel. Typically, there are a series of stages within the tunnel that can include the following: recirculating wash, recirculating rinse, fresh rinse, blow off, heated dry, vacuum dry, or any combination thereof. 

Conveyor parts washers are prone to “cross-contamination” or “carryover”; therefore, a tunnel washer should have adequate buffer zones. The parts cleaning systems are commonly used in the food, pharma, organic waste, medical waste, logisticsautomotive, and metalworking industries.

Types of tunnel washers

Conveyor parts washers are typically designed with standard belt widths. Better Engineering offers a variety of standard belt widths: 6’’, 14’’, 24’’, 36’’, and 48’’. However, we can custom design systems as wide as 16’. Additionally, we can increase the working height of the parts washing system to conform to your largest parts. 

Our conveyor parts washers are flexible systems. These parts washers can be loaded or unloaded manually, with a robot, or with a belt-to-belt transition. The conveyor belt is also customizable, including custom fixturing, a hold-down belt (great for stampings), parallel chains, and many other options. 

Our conveyor parts washers can also be modified with adjustable guide rails so an operator can load various containers into the same parts washer. Finally, these systems can be designed with a U-Shaped conveyor to allow an operator to load and unload from the same end of the conveyor. 

Finally, our conveyor parts washers are designed with ease of maintenance at the top of our mind. The bottom manifolds can be easily removed, the carriage trays under the belt are severely sloped to prevent water pooling, manifolds can be designed with quick disconnects, and nozzles can be the clip-on variety. We also offer a variety of particulate and oil filtration systems.

How much water does a tunnel washer use?

Water consumption is mainly dependent on your run temperature. Conveyor systems in traditional manufacturing settings will operate between 140-150 F. Due to the large openings on both ends of the conveyor, holding higher temperatures can be challenging. One can expect to lose roughly 8% of their tank volume over 8 hours. 

Food, pharmaceutical, and medical waste applications require the sanitization of parts. Your tank temperatures need to meet or exceed 180 F in these environments. Under these circumstances, your evaporation rate will be roughly 12-15% of your tank volume over an 8 hr. Period. 

How much does a tunnel washer cost?

Better Engineering’s conveyor parts washers are only constructed out of stainless steel (304, 316, or 316L). These systems can also include a multitude of stages and options. The tunnel washer’s belt width, working height, stages, and selected options will all be significant cost drivers. One should expect to pay over $100,000 for a quality three-stage washer (recirculating washer, recirculating rinse, and dry); however, the selected stages are very application dependent.

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