5 More Ways to Reduce Manufacturing Labor Costs with Ultrasonic Cleaning

These days, people are one of the costliest parts of any operation, and the more you need them to do, the more expense gets grafted on to the final price of your product. In our previous blog post, we discussed six ways ultrasonic cleaning can reduce your labor costs. To be specific, we covered how you won’t have to pay for workers to clean your product by hand (or operate a cleaning machine), or deal with all the hassle of harsh chemicals and the training, equipment and paperwork they require.

So what else can this technology do to reduce your costs? Glad you asked! Here are five more ways that ultrasonic cleaning can reduce manufacturing labor costs.

1. You won’t have to pay for workers to reapply paint or other coatings.

Removing cutting oil from machined parts or taking dirt and/or chemical contaminants off units you’re about to refurb—it can all be a real hassle to begin with. But then the product  reaches a station where paint, chrome, etc. will be applied and disaster strikes. The coating won’t stick because of remaining contamination. Suddenly you’re paying for more cleaning, building up more queue time or even slowing a whole line. And that’s before you pay someone to reapply a coating.

But because ultrasonic cleaning reaches every spot on every surface, you can be certain the entire part is clean. There’s no chance of someone missing part of a groove or being distracted and leaving oil clinging to the product.

2 & 3. You won’t have to pay for time spent reworking or scrapping parts

Eliminating hand cleaning means less handling, and less handling will also mean fewer opportunities for parts to be damaged. It’s difficult to drop, scratch or dent a part while it’s lying motionless in a cleaning tank. Moreover, ultrasonic cleaning is an extremely gentle process, so scratches or other damage won’t interfere with subsequent steps or create the need to rework a part.

If you don’t have to rework or scrap, and you don’t have to recoat any parts, think of all the time/money you’ll save just from eliminating carrying parts back and forth and documenting the problem.

4. You won’t have to pay for as much maintenance labor.

You may be using a machine setup instead of having your employees clean by hand. It’s often more efficient, but the downside is more maintenance. An ultrasonic cleaning unit will have no moving parts except for a single filtration pump. That lets your maintenance crew concentrate on other tasks.

If you wish, you won’t even have to pay for workers to place and remove the items being cleaned.

We now offer customized automation options for our equipment. If a worker places a basket of items to be cleaned in the correct zone, a smart sensor will recognize it and an automated system will move the basket through a pre-programmed cycle. This can include multiple rinse and cleaning baths as you require. Then, when the cycle is finished, the system will place the basket in a retrieval area, allowing it to be moved to the next station.

This system ensures each part receives the proper treatment for the proper amount of time, so you won’t have to pay an employee to monitor the process, which frees up your skilled workers to perform value added tasks.

The bottom line is your bottom line will improve if you can use your workforce more efficiently, and ultrasonic cleaning is the perfect technology to help you do it.

6 Ways to Reduce Manufacturing Labor Costs with Ultrasonic Cleaning

“Time is money” is a cliché, so allow us to share a different take on that old chestnut. Nothing is more expensive than the time of your workforce. The more you need your workers to do, the more expense gets grafted on the final cost of your product.

The good news is that ultrasonic cleaning technology can reduce the amount of labor used to make your product, reducing costs and increasing efficiency. In fact, one customer, Ushers Machine and Tool, cut costs and increased their production by 20%using one of our ultrasonic cleaners. There are so many ways ultrasonic cleaning can reduce your labor costs that we’ll have to take this in two doses. Let’s take a look at the first few things you can stop paying for if you replace other methods with an ultrasonic cleaner.

1. You won’t have to pay for scrubbing, brushing or other applications of elbow grease.

Ensuring a part is truly free of contaminants can take an enormous amount of time, especially if it has a complex shape. Each nook, cranny or groove has to be scoured somehow, with precise attention to detail. Handling scrubbing, spraying, inspecting, scrubbing again—it definitely adds up.

With ultrasonic cleaning, microscopic bubbles constantly form and collapse on every surface of the item being cleaned. As the bubbles collapse, the liquid slams into the dirt or other contaminants and scrubs it off the surface. No one will need to turn the part over and over looking for that one smear of cutting oil they may have missed; the bubbles from ultrasonic cavitation will form everywhere and remove everything that doesn’t belong. And depending on the cleaning application, the process often takes as little as five to seven minutes.

2 & 3. You won’t have to pay workers to break down parts or put them back together

There are spots in some components that can’t be reached by a scrub brush or sprayer, including spaces that are simply too small to work a tool into. But the bubbles formed by ultrasonic cavitation will form anywhere liquid reaches. Unless the sections you need to clean are watertight, the part can be left intact and simply submerged in the cleaning tank. Although for best results we do recommend disassembling as much as possible.

4 & 5. You won’t have to pay workers to undergo chemical safety training or don, handle or maintain safety gear.

Most cleaning methods in an industrial setting will require the use of strong solvents or other chemicals, but ultrasonic cleaning needs none of that. For most applications, the cleaning medium is simply water and mild detergent. Not only will your employees not need to protect themselves from harsh chemicals, they won’t have to spend time applying them during the cleaning process.

6. You won’t have to pay workers for the labor surrounding hazardous chemical disposal.

We’ll deal with the savings related to getting rid of noxious solvents in a future post, but while we’re focused on labor costs, consider this: You won’t have to pay for employees to handle the solvents, dispose of them or keep records related to them. And that’s all before any savings from the disposal fees themselves.

The water in the tank can be used through multiple cleanings, and when it’s time to dispose of it, it can be treated just like dishwater, depending on the cleaning application and your local municipality requirements.

Old vs the New Way to Clean Brass Instruments

Have you ever had that moment where you encounter a new way of doing something and realize you’ll never do it the old way again? You’re about to have one of those moments.

To illustrate this, we’d like to share a couple of videos about cleaning brass musical instruments.

The first is from YouTuber and musician Luke Gall.

Now, we think this is a great video. Gall knows his stuff, lays it out well and he definitely aims to get that instrument as spotless as he can. But consider these points:

The old method requires 15 different types of tools and chemicals—those displayed in the video and the detergent.

It requires an hour of soaking time, plus the time spent filling and draining a tub.

If an individual musician follows this procedure, they have to spend even more time gathering materials and setting up a temporary work area, or they have to take up space in their home with a permanent arrangement.

All the cleaning is done by hand. Gall says “it will take a few passes to get everything” with the initial brush cleaning, and if you’re not quite thorough enough, your horn will have nasty gunk in it.

Still more brushing and still more water use are required in the second round of brushing. This can’t be great for the environment or for the musician’s water bill!

When Brasso is applied, Gall advises us, “you may have to do this a few times and use a bit of elbow grease,” and after all that work we have another session of rinsing and hand drying. Following that, two more chemicals are applied and the musician has to deal with ventilation concerns and gloving up. The process is described as “definitely tedious,” and requires “a fair amount of pressure,” or in other words, some more elbow grease. Using cotton swabs and creativity is the only way to get into the tightest spaces.

The result looks great, but what an astonishing amount of effort! And is it really as clean as it could be?

Ultrasonically clean brass instruments

Now take a look at the new way to clean brass instruments in this video kindly shared with us by our customers at A minor Tune Up in Wilmington, Delaware.

In this method, there’s no elbow grease required; ultrasonic cavitation does all the work. The ultrasonic waves create microscopic bubbles on every surface of the instrument that is in contact with water, reaching areas even a cotton swab can’t reach. There’s no soaking time required, either, and the cleaning process takes just minutes. The result is a perfectly clean trumpet that has had no chemicals applied to it other than a mild detergent.

Imagine being able to offer this option to everyone from flutists to tuba players, saving them time and ensuring they perform with the cleanest possible instrument. To learn more about the benefits of ultrasonic cleaning for instruments, download our Free Guide to Cleaning Brass Instruments here.

Increased productivity and efficiency at a lower cost – A real-world case

When you’re trying to increase efficiency in your plant operations, you can’t act on vague ideas of improvement. Instead of hoping to “reduce queue time” or “cut labor costs,” you need to be able to cut through the fog and cite a solid number based on real-world experience.

So, what if you can boost your production by 20% and deliver a better product while reducing costs? Ushers Machine and Tool Company had just such an experience, described in a 2014 article in Production Machining magazine.

Ushers, a precision machining, welding and fabrication company located in Round Lake, New York, was producing about 250 stainless steel gas tips per day. Each tip was chrome plated, and coolant and other contaminants left over from the machining process had to be removed from the parts before the chrome was applied. Workers were cleaning the tips by hand with wire brushes, paper towels and a chemical cleaner that required special waste disposal. Not only was this a difficult and time-consuming method, it was ineffective; contaminants left in the threads of the tips were interfering with the plating process, and the chrome didn’t adhere well.

“We knew we had to get a better cleaning process in place,” Nick Jones, the Quality Control Manager at Ushers, told Production Machining. “Using a can of spray just wasn’t getting the job done.”

Jones began searching for an alternative method, and contacted Ultrasonic Power Corporation, where some parts were test-cleaned. Based on the results of the tests, Ushers ordered a 39 gallon Advanced Sonic Touch I console.

As a result, Ushers realized three major benefits:

  • Reduced cleaning time—Employees place batches of 30 to 50 tips in the ultrasonic cleaner’s tank for 20 minutes. After this, tips are rinsed with ordinary tap water before being air dried. This process takes about 45 minutes, compared to as much as 3 hours of cleaning time for a batch of parts under the old hand scrubbing method.
  • Improved cleaning—The microscopic bubbles generated by the ultrasonic cleaner reach where even the most thorough worker can’t, resulting in a cleaner part and easier and more effective plating. As a result, Usher was able to produce approximately 300 gas tips each day, a 20% increase.
  • Disposal costs eliminated—Usher saved $15,000 in the first year because they no longer had to dispose of the chemical cleaner they had been using. Instead, the ultrasonic cleaner used a mild mix of Brulin 815GD Brulin 815GD detergent and water. The unit paid for itself in less than a year through savings on disposal alone.

“It’s really been tremendous for us,” Jones reported to Production Machining. “As soon as we saw what it could do for us in saving man hours as well as giving us better performance, we knew this was the ticket.” The company has acquired a number of ultrasonic cleaners for their operation, including a 135 gallon model for a second Round Lake plant.

If you’d like to see how Ultrasonic Power Corporation’s Vibra-bar® transducers with Simultaneous Multi-Frequency® technology helped the leadership at another plant deliver a better product, download our case study, “Ultrasonics to the Rescue.”