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Care for your solvent, increase productivity

A closeup of jet engine blades. These complex components demand the highest possible cleanliness standards and often rely on solvents.

Metal surface cleaning, component cleaning, degreasing, parts washing; it has many names but one thing is clear. Cleaning is a vital step in any manufacturing process and the final quality of the finished component can be greatly influenced by the quality of the cleaning operation.

Whether it is in Aviation, Automotive, Rail, Oil & Gas, Medical, or Nuclear, the complex components required by these industries demand the highest possible cleanliness standards and often rely on solvents used in ultrasonic and/or vapour degreasing equipment. These specially formulated solvents are highly effective at removing oils, greases, metal working fluids, and other contaminants applied during the production of metal, and sometimes, plastic or composite components.

When combined with modern fully sealed cleaning technology the use of solvents for cleaning is a remarkably simple, safe, cost effective and environmentally responsible process. Maximum productivity and consistent high quality cleaning results can be achieved by correctly caring for your solvent and following a simple solvent maintenance programme.

COMPLEASE™: safe, simple, hassle free solvent cleaning

What if we told you that all the necessary consumables, services and training associated with your solvent cleaning process could be provided in return for a flat fixed monthly service fee? With COMPLEASE™ Chemical Leasing, we provide staff training, stabilisers, test kits, replacement reagents, laboratory analysis, tools for exposure monitoring, technical support, fresh solvent and waste recycling service. The service fee is fixed and independent of your actual month to month consumption which allows for straightforward planning and budgeting. Throughout the agreement you will also receive support to help ensure your cleaning process is fully optimised for efficient and consistent high quality cleaning results.

Maintenance programme for your cleaning solvent

If you want to know how to make most of your solvent cleaning process, have a look at our programme with all the necessary steps and products for the ultimate maintenance of your solvent.

1. Check the stability of your solvent

In a vapour degreasing process the cleaning solvent is continuously heated and cooled and will be exposed to soils and other elements such as moisture and light metals that can accelerate the natural breakdown of the solvent. In addition to this, the soils that the cleaning process is removing can themselves breakdown to form damaging acidic by-products. For this reason all the solvents supplied by Caldic contain a proprietary stabiliser package that is specially designed to absorb these corrosive breakdown products. Over time these stabilisers will naturally be consumed and it is therefore important to monitor their levels on a weekly basis which can be done very simply and quickly using the MAXICHECK™ Test Kits.

Like most chemicals the reagents in these test kits have a limited shelf life. To ensure your tests are giving accurate results it is recommended that the reagents contained in these test kits are replaced annually. Various MAXICHECK™ Refill Packs are available for each test kit.

2. Record your test results and restabilise your solvent

The results from the weekly solvent checks should be recorded in the electronic CHEMAWARE™ Logbook provided. The logbook contains an electronic log of historical results which is invaluable during any audit. If any stabilisers or additives do need to be added to the process, the logbook will automatically calculate the recommended addition which is required to restore the solvent to a good working condition. Your solvent can be restabilised using the appropriate MAXISTAB™ Stabilisers or MAXIBOOST™ Solvent Additives.

Some oils can have a very negative impact on particular stabilisers or additives. In response to this problem a whole range of specialist stabiliser packages have been developed. The most suitable package for your particular cleaning process can be found by completing a CHEMAWARE™ Oil Compatibility Test.

 3. Check the overall condition of your solvent

The weekly checks we mentioned above give an excellent indication of the stabilisation levels in your solvent. However, these tests do not reveal any information about the underlying health of the solvent itself. This can only be revealed by sophisticated analysis of a solvent sample in a chemical laboratory. It is possible for a solvent to be well stabilised but in overall poor condition and potentially corrosive. It is therefore recommended that a sample of distillate from the plant is sent for a full CHEMAWARE Solvent Analysis on a twice-yearly basis.

In many cases a customer might perform a full ‘bath exchange’, replacing the old solvent with a fresh once every one to two years. However, if properly maintained, a solvent can commonly have a useful lifetime in excess of five years. Instead of replacing perfectly good solvent unnecessarily we suggest a full bath exchange is only completed when the results of the laboratory analysis shows that this action is technically necessary.

 4. Keep your employees well trained

Properly trained employees are an asset to the company and essential for maintaining a safe and efficient solvent cleaning process. The use of the SAFE-TAINER closed-loop delivery and take back system in combination with modern cleaning equipment helps ensure that the risk of any exposure to the solvent is kept to an absolute minimum. However, all solvents should still be handled with care and it is important for staff to receive the appropriate level of training.

The CHEMAWARE™ Solvent Training programme covers all aspects of the safe use and handling of solvents and is designed to be of interest to HSE, Quality, Production, Operators, Maintenance and Laboratory staff. The session is given on site, generally lasting three to four hours and includes certification for each attendee’s training record. Advice and legislation surrounding the safe handling of solvents is constantly evolving. In order to ensure you are working to the latest best practice guidelines it is recommended that a refresher training session is undertaken at least every two years.

Safe-Tainers and other solvent maintenance products

More information?

Ask us about COMPLEASE™ Chemical Leasing as the quickest way to help ensure your process is fully optimised. If you want to receive more information or a personalised Chemical Leasing evaluation, please contact our specialist Nicholas Veale.