What is a Washer Washer? An Interview with Ray Graffia, Jr. of Arbortech Corporation

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Today we’ll be talking with Ray Graffia, Jr. of Arbortech Corporation. His company manufactures washer washers, and these devices have considerable overlap with the work we do at AEC Systems. Ray graciously agreed to answer our questions, and we’ll let him explain what his business does and why it’s important.

What exactly is a “washer washer”?

Washer Washer is the name we give to Arbortech’s series of wash water recycling devices.  Essentially all water-based cleaning solutions are candidates for recycling, including floor wash and all forms of mechanized parts’ washing – from pressure sprayers to commercial washing systems like those built by AEC Systems USA.  Our equipment washes the end-user’s aqueous cleaners – often used in washer tanks, hence we offer Washer Washers (WW)!

How complex is the chemistry involved?

Other than restoration processes (cleanings) for the membrane filters that accomplish the separation of good stuff from bad stuff, there is no chemistry involved.  This is a mechanical process and not a chemical one…  Think of your skin = it will pass “water” when we get our heart (pump) going during exercise, but retains blood, organs, bones, etc.  Same/Same w/WWs, where we pass water and the cleaning chemistry under the pressure of a circulation pump, while retaining oils and soils for concentration and removal from the cleaning process.

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How does a washer washer work in conjunction with a parts washer?

Parts washers clean parts and as those oils and soils accumulate, the effectiveness of cleaning may diminish due to loading of contamination.  We tie into the washer on a sidestream basis (think of kidney dialysis) taking the snarky stuff out on a continuous basis and returning clean cleaner, thereby, over time, bringing wash solutions back to and maintaining them at near initial cleanliness.  This, of course, means that the parts being washed are consistently clean from Day One and in perpetuity.  Without recycling in use, cleaning may offer a great performance for minutes to maybe a shift, followed by pretty good cleaning, followed by so-so parts’ cleanliness, followed by increasing levels of rejects, followed by “Uh-oh – better do something!”, followed by dumping the solution and making up a fresh batch of cleaning chemistry.  WWs ensure parts always being kept in that good to great range of cleanliness!

How will investing in the filtration of the cleaning water save companies money over time?

Let’s just think about a company who recently (~2 weeks ago) sent us their operating costs.  I attached the Excel calculator we prepared for them so you can see where savings can be made.  In essence, they would save >15,500 gallons of water per year, close to 2,000 gallons of chemistry, ~26 work days of labor, energy (to heat the water ~5 versus 31 times), nearly $10,500 in haul-away charges, and so on, to the tune of paying back a >$36K recycler in less than 10 months.  Now, if they add chemistry regularly to boost deteriorating effectiveness and/or get the residual from the Washer Washer to a point where its oil content means an oil reclaimer might take away the leftovers at little to no charge, or in cases where folks are treating this wastewater in-house, between operational savings and, even more importantly, the savings of their WWTP operator’s happiness, the payback can be nearly instantaneous.  Most WWTP operators will tell us that their worst nightmares come every time a wash tank is dumped — from the deleterious effects such cleaning chemistries have on their normal WWT methods.

Does this have environmental benefits?

Oodles – see above, paying particular attention to the greatly diminished usage of water, the lessened impact of spent chemistry disposal, etc.

Do you see washer washers becoming a larger trend in the future? Why?

I see there being no doubt that, one day – and it is already beginning to happen in CA, the increasing scarcity of water and increasing cost of same will lead to many more installations in coming years.  And if we become like California nationwide/worldwide re decreasing levels of water, I can even foresee recycling eventually becoming mandated by regulators as a Best Practice.

How did you get interested in developing water filtration technology? Was this your first career?

NewColony3Once a hippie tree hugger = always one!  Was this your first career?  Nope – rock & roll semi-star in the ‘60s.  Still perform a bit today (see Arcada Theatre Concert 4-19-15) but while music remains my passionate avocation, Arbortech Corporation satisfies both the desire to help Mother Earth and pay the Graffia, Jr. family’s bills as it has done since I started this adventure in 1981!

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