Anyone managing a service or technical operation hopes to reduce costs wherever possible. These days, people are turning to ultrasonic cleaning systems to save on labor expenses, rework, disposals, and many others. But to maximize savings, you need to achieve maximum uptime, prolong the life of the medium, and lengthen the time between maintenance services.
Fortunately, new improvements to our cleaning units can achieve all of these and more. We spoke with Felipe Benalcazar, a manufacturing engineer who designed the improved system.
Easier access, leading to increased uptime
Based on customer feedback, our engineers saw an opportunity to make the filtration system more accessible and easier to configure, and have rolled out the change in 39 to 204 gallon cleaners equipped with both a main tank (where cleaning takes place) and a reservoir tank. Prior to this redesign, changing the direction of flow was a hassle.
“You could configure the system to choose the source you were filtering, or pump from one tank to another,” Benalcazar said, “but to be able to change [the flow] you would have to render your system down, open the panels, reconfigure manually through a series of valves, and then go back into operation.”
Operators will now easily select where the liquid is moving to and from by changing a single ball valve’s position or with a solenoid activated from the control panel. “Minimizing the time spent making changes was a huge priority; we wanted to be able to say ‘This is as easy as pushing a button,’” Benalcazar said.
“All the items that need to be accessed for maintenance will be internal and any that operate the system will now be external. We’re very excited about that.”
New valve configuration preserves cleaning medium
One of the main benefits of being able to control the pattern of flow in the unit is keeping a cleaner—and thus longer-lasting—medium in the immersion tank.
As oil and light contaminants are skimmed out through the overflow fittings to the reservoir tank, the reservoir’s contents are then filtered. With the new external valve control, operators can create a bypass, pumping and filtering the contents of the main tank directly. “With our pump feed being located at the bottom of the main tank, the heavier contaminants will be pulled out through a pre-strainer, then through a pump and filtration system, and then clean fluid is returned back into the tank,” Benalcazar said. Removing surface and bottom debris allows the medium to have a longer life.
In the near future, customers ordering custom systems will be able to automate the process using sensors or timers.
Better pumps for lower operating cost
Another improvement is pumps that last longer. While cavitation is the driver behind ultrasonic cleaning, cavitation in pumps can drastically reduce their operating life. With the new filtration setup, Benalcazar said, “We are now standardized to eliminate cavitation in any scenario you can think of. Our new configuration allows the customer to prime the pump without any difficulty.” This minimizes differences in temperature, makeup or vapor pressure in the medium that might cause the pump to cavitate.
In addition, he said, the pumps themselves are greatly improved. “We’ve used robust magnetic drive pumps in our system to account for all the different uses a customer might have. The beauty of magnetic pumps, unlike a traditional centrifugal pump, is that the pump works without a drive shaft.” This eliminates a number of parts that wear down relatively quickly in centrifugal pumps. “This gives the customer a very efficient pump that lasts longer and can handle everything you put through the system,” he said.
“With the protections we have with the strainer, eliminating cavitation, the robustness of the pump itself, and the appropriate plumbing configuration, the pump is reaching the longest lifespan it can possibly have,” Benalcazar said.
All of this leads to less maintenance and a greater time between filter changes and medium refills, leading to increased uptime and lower operating cost.
Pump-drain option makes life easier for customers
By moving the valve to a purge position and activating the pump, operators can pump-drain the main tank. Benalcazar notes that this will be very convenient for smaller operations such as music shops and schools, which use ultrasonic cleaning on musical instruments.
“These non-industrial customers aren’t usually equipped with a floor drain,” he said. Now, instead of using gravity draining, customers can pump the tank out into a sink or other convenient drain. Since the system uses a ball valve, it’s also possible to carefully control how quickly the liquid flows out.
The new design also allows the customer to bypass the filtration system as they drain the tank, which preserves filter cartridge life.
Taken together, these changes increase uptime, reduce operating costs and make ultrasonic cleaning even easier to use. “We try to do anything we can so the customer has the best product for their application,” Benalcazar said. “With this new plumbing, they’ll have an extremely efficient system that is going to have a longer life, less downtime altogether, lower operating cost and flexibility. The consumer will have more options, as to what they want to do with it.”