How to Reduce Throughput Time with Ultrasonic Cleaning

Moving more product in a given time almost always means a better bottom line, but every manufacturing facility has bottlenecks that can stretch out throughput time, keeping your customers waiting and your cost per piece higher than it needs to be.

But what if making a single technology change could eliminate several bottlenecks at once, while delivering better results? Ultrasonic cleaning can reduce the amount of time your parts take to process and will ensure they are spotless. Read on to see how.

No more sitting for a soak

When facility managers are hoping to speed things up, queue time is often the “low hanging fruit” that can be reduced or eliminated with some relatively minor changes in procedure. But what if you’re in a situation where you need to soak parts prior to cleaning? The soak cycle may be reducing the amount of time your workers spend cleaning the part (saving you labor) or helping to preserve solvent or other media (saving you money on the cost of chemicals and disposal) but there’s no getting around the fact that your parts are sitting there doing nothing.

In contrast, ultrasonic cleaning uses cavitation to remove contaminants, so soaking is generally not required or even helpful. As ultrasonic waves pass through liquid, they create millions of microscopic bubbles on the surface of the item being cleaned. As these bubbles form and collapse, they create a high-impact scrubbing action, removing all contaminants from the surface of the item. There’s no need to “soften up” the grime before the cavitation begins scrubbing it.

This means your workers can begin the cleaning process as soon as the parts arrive at the cleaning station. That brings us to the next way you can reduce your throughput time: Reducing the amount of time spent on the cleaning process.

Quicker, more effective cleaning

With ultrasonic cavitation doing all the work, you won’t need your employees to manually clean the components, spray them, etc. The parts are simply loaded into a basket and submerged; after that, the bubbles do all the work. Cleaning will often take as little as five to seven minutes, and there will be no handling, scrubbing, spraying, detailed inspection and re-cleaning. There also won’t be a need to disassemble and reassemble parts, since the cavitation can reach anywhere liquid can go.

As a side benefit, your worker can spend the ultrasonic cleaning cycle attending to other work, which will let you get more for your labor dollars and perhaps even further reduce throughput time.

Now, let’s see how this form of cleaning ensures you’ll clean—and process—the item just once.

Fewer “do-overs” and reworked components

No technology can eliminate human error, but an ultrasonic cleaner can greatly reduce the incidence of two major sources of extra processing time.

First, eliminating the constant handling required in traditional cleaning will reduce the chance that a part will be scratched, dropped or otherwise damaged during cleaning and inspection. If you don’t use an abrasive process, you won’t scratch; if you don’t disassemble, you won’t crossthread a part (to use just one example) during reassembly. The parts will almost certainly go to the next station in the exact same condition in which they arrived, except for being immaculate, of course.

Second, since cavitation reaches every surface and removes every bit of contaminant, there won’t be a need for a component to come back and be re-cleaned. With unblemished parts, there won’t be any surprises if you need to apply coating or paint. You’ll not only save the processing time you would spend cleaning the parts a second time and applying a coating again, you’ll even save time spent moving the parts back and forth. Multiply that savings over days, weeks and months and it really adds up!

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