Michigan Manufacturing on the Rise and Yes, That Means Industrial Parts Washers Too

industrial parts washers and manufacturingYou may have missed it, but last week, the second week in May, was Michigan Manufacturing Week. Former Governor John Engler was quoted recently saying that Michigan manufacturing is “on the mend,” and it seems to be the consensus of business experts and economists that Michigan, so long in recession, is making strides towards growth and improvement. Manufacturing has added jobs in state for the third year in a row. In 2013 alone 13,084 jobs were added. Currently there are more than 662,000 people working in manufacturing in Michigan in 14,194 manufacturing businesses across the state. These people make cars, seating, shoes, lasers, fabrics, paper, office furniture, furnaces, and, yes, industrial parts washers.

While this is good news for the people in Michigan in need of jobs now, it’s good news for the state and business in general for the future. Unlike in the past when much of manufacturing was line work, many of these new manufacturing jobs are in high tech areas. Earlier this year Jay Baron, President and CEO of the Center for Automotive Research said in an interview, “In Michigan we have a fairly high unemployment rate, yet there are a lot of for-hire signs at these companies,” he said. “They need technical-skilled people; technicians who can fix machines when they break down, computer programmers and other sorts of positions.” For specific skill sets, there is a lot of demand from manufacturers.

In the long term, those technical jobs will generate more revenue and will be largely immune to the forces that pulled jobs out of Michigan over the last decades. The research and development sectors of these businesses will create more work over time with the discoveries they make. These discoveries have the potential to change all of our lives for the better. New energy options, more efficient heating and cooling, environmental and industrial clean up, new medical treatments and drug options, faster and safer transportation – researchers and manufacturers will be the ones to provide us with safer, cleaner, and cheaper ways to solve the problems in our lives.

It’s a given that the future will not look the same as our industrial past, and the opportunities will not be the same, but for those of us willing to change and innovate, the future for Michigan looks brighter than it has in a long while.

By: Ryan Westphal

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Will Graphene be Used in the Future of the Industrial Parts Washers Industry?

Previously we discussed bio-remediation as a process used in environmental disasters such as oil spills and of potential use to the industrial parts washers industry. Scientists continually do research on cleaning technologies as our world grapples with how to deal with more and more complicated pollution generated by humans.

Another technology that shows promises for the remediation of water is the use of graphene. Graphene, a two-dimensional sheet of graphite, is the most stable form of carbon under natural conditions. It has many scientific applications and, up until now, the difficulty has been producing enough quality graphene in large quantities. However, recently scientists have found “they can create high-quality graphene sheets using a kitchen blender and ordinary dishwashing detergent.” Of course, the preferred method of manufacture of graphene will not be kitchen blenders, but if it’s possible to so simply create a decent quality graphene, a number of graphene-based technologies may be just around the corner.

Graphene performs very well as an adsorbent, removing oil, metal ions and organic pollutants from water. Human beings have long used a different form of carbon, activated charcoal, as an adsorbent to remove poisons from their digestive tracts and treat disease. Activated charcoal, as well as graphene, is very porous. All of its tiny holes give it significant surface area relative to its size and allow for the adsorption of an enormous amount of toxins. In a similar way scientists have designed bulky graphene materials for selective adsorption of heavy metal ions, organic pollutants, and and oil from water.

What makes graphene particularly promising, however, is its desorption ability. Not only can graphene selectively adsorb pollutants, but it can desorb them later and remain stable over time. Thus the same graphene can be used over and over again to pull undesirable pollutants and from water, shedding them later so the graphene can be used again and again.

As a maker of industrial parts washers, AEC Systems is of course concerned with the simplest ways to both clean objects and reduce waste byproducts, so any new developments involving the successful remediation of water is good news for us!

By: Ryan Westphal

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How can bio-remediation clean up oil spills and be used with industrial parts washers?

bio-redmediationBritish Petroleum today significantly increased its estimate of how much oil had spilled into Lake Michigan from its Whiting refinery in Northwest Illinois. It is now citing the amount of oil spilled as up to 39 barrels’ – or 1,638 gallons’- worth, up from the original estimate of 18 barrels. The refinery problem began when crude oil leaked into a sealed cooling system, causing the spill.

BP representative Scott Dean has stated that most of the oil has already been cleaned up from the spill site, but accidents such as these, involving crude oil and natural gas seem to be occurring more often these days, no doubt due to the nation’s aging fossil fuel infrastructure. This is a concern to anyone who heats with oil or natural gas, who drinks water taken from lakes or rivers, or who doesn’t enjoy seeing ruined natural spaces and dead wildlife.

Fortunately, advancements in science are allowing us to get better at cleaning up spills such as these through manual methods and processes such as bio-remediation which uses biological organisms “to solve an environmental problems such as contaminated soil or groundwater.” The types of organisms that are able to digest and process chemicals in oil spills can either be located at the spill site and encouraged to flourish by manipulation of the environment or introduced on site. Bio-remediation can be simpler, cheaper, and less disruptive than other cleaning methods which involve trucking large amounts of soil or water elsewhere and cleaning it.

A similar kind of chemistry is also beginning to be used in industrial parts washing. New technologies are being developed that utilize vegetable extracts as “green solvents” in industrial parts washers, taking a by-product of the vegetable processing industry and using it, combined with other cleaning agents and surfactants to clean and degrease parts, remove paint, glue, ink, wax, or even crude oil via bio-remediation. Unlike more commonly used petroleum-based solvents, these new green solvents are renewable, biodegradable, and non-flammable.

Our society is heavily dependent on petroleum solutions, but their attendant problems can be disastrous. It’s good to know that we are making progress solving at least some of these with chemistry.

By: Ryan Westphal

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Replace Trichloroethylene (TCE) with Aqueous Cleaning for a Safe and Clean Solution

Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a non-flammable liquid clorinated hydrocarbon used as an industrial solvent for its degreasing properties. It is also commonly used in the dry cleaning of fabrics. In the past it was topically used on humans as a disinfectant and anesthetic and incorporated into coffee as a spice. The FDA banned these uses in 1977 after the toxicity to humans and wildlife of TCE was determined. Trichloroethylene continued to be used widely as a solvent and it is found in indoor and outdoor air and drinking and surface water.

In May of 2013, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute published a study showing possible links between Trichloroethylene and liver cancer and called for more research. Previous studies have shown a link between TCE and cancers of the kidney, cervix, liver and biliary passages as well as other types of cancer including non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Unfortunately, buried waste from industrial uses has leaked into the ground water, placing the general population at risk for higher exposure to TCE. TCE is commonly found at Superfund sites around the country.

These kinds of complications from chemical solvent use underline the need for more environmentally friendly cleaning processes, either using safer chemicals or other cleaning methods such as aqueous cleaning technology. Water-based or more environmentally friendly solvents reduce the risks of employee and environmental exposure to toxins without compromising the benefits of solvents such as TCE. Many companies have found that replacing TCE with aqueous parts cleaning technology can be safer and less expensive.

AEC Systems is committed to providing companies with environmentally safe parts cleaning technology and working towards ever more stringent goals of zero waste production. Clean should also mean safe, for parts and for people.

By: Ryan Westphal

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Customizing a Three Chamber Pass Through Washer with Dip Tank

pass thru parts washer


AEC Systems USA was presented with a cleaning problem that didn’t fall into the traditional washer solutions. Our customer had used standard cabinet style washers to clean the inside and outside of canister engine liners with only varying degrees of success. In the discovery portion of the process we determined that the client’s current washer cleaned these liners at a rate of one liner every 2.5 minutes and the parts were washed, rinsed and dried. After this point in the customer’s current process, the parts were transported to a separate rust preventative dip tank. Between the wash process and rust-prevention process, every eighth part needed to be examined and gauged for tolerances. All of these processes were very labor intensive and our customer was looking to reduce labor to one person. The customer also had space constraints – a very limited work envelope that they were trying to stay within. Finally, the canister engine liners had unique features that made them difficult to get completely dry. This client needed a parts washer specifically designed to solve these time, space, and financial complications.

pass thru washer


AEC Systems USA presented the customer with a three-station, auto-feed, guillotine-door pass-through washer. The first chamber washed the liner on a turntable with retracting center nozzle in order to fully clean both the inside and outside of the liner. The second stage, also a turntable with retractable center nozzle, was both a rinse and blow-off stage to provide a polishing rinse and dry. Once the part was washed, rinsed and dried, the liner moved out of the turntable chamber and was automatically lowered into a rust-prevention dip solution. Every eighth part was held, allowing the operator to remove it to check for machined tolerances. This solution modified the honing/washing operation from a three-person operation to a one-person operation, and we were able to design the parts washer to fit within the limited work envelope the customer’s space required.

pass through parts washer


Our customer has had this washer in continuous operation for three years with minimal downtime. This washer has become the workhorse of their operation with its reliable error-free process and has saved them in labor savings year over year. Our customer has become a reliable reference for the durability and successful implementation of a custom, non-traditional solution.

AEC Systems would be honored to be involved in your parts cleaning solution. Businesses often feel they must settle for off-the-rack solutions to complex operational realities. Could the parts washer you are currently using be modified into a space saving, labor reducing solution? Call us. We would love to work with you to find out. (To read an interview with the designers with more specifics about this parts washer, click here.)

By: Ryan Westphal

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Waste Generation in Industrial Parts Washing

AEC places a high value on zero waste generation in industrial parts washing. We strive to incorporate recent advances in technology that allow for more efficient and environmentally respectful cleaning processes. As such, this article about newly developed HydRegen technology was very interesting to us:

“With the constant drive to make chemical synthesis ever cleaner, more energy-efficient and generate less waste – both in research and industrial processes – more and more chemists are looking to harness enzyme catalysis. But many enzymes don’t work in isolation. They are aided by small molecule cofactors, such as the redox couple of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, NAD+/NADH.

“HydRegen is a technology developed in Kylie Vincent’s research group at the University of Oxford, UK, which provides a clean and efficient way to recycle the NADH cofactor in an effort to make it more accessible to synthetic chemists. ‘NADH is often more expensive than the chemical you’re trying to produce,’ says Vincent, ‘so if you’re going to use these enzymes in synthesis, you need cheap ways of recycling the cofactor.’”

Read the rest at: http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/2014/01/profile-hydregen-plug-play-redox-enzymes


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What kind of parts washer would be best for my company’s needs?

This is the kind of question that AEC Systems, LLC is designed to answer most comprehensively for our customers. Essentially, there are four commonly used cleaning methods for parts washers:

Manual cleaning
Automated cleaning
Immersion/agitation cleaning
Ultrasonic cleaning

Each of the above has its pros and cons. Manual systems are used when cleanliness specifications are less rigorous and when parts cleaning is only required for a fraction of the day. Automated cleaning systems are used when parts need to be cleaned more frequently, must meet more stringent cleanliness specs, and cannot be cleaned well or easily by hand. The most frequently used automated processes are immersion-agitation cleaning and ultrasonic cleaning. These two methods differ in a number of ways, including price, and a business must well consider what their cleaning needs entail specifically. Cabinet washers operate much like dishwashers, and conveyor belt systems, and additional rinse or drying cycles may be easily added on to them to address specific problems. Vat-style washers, however, used high energy bubbles to vibrate parts clean and are better for small parts and items with crevices or harder-to-reach places.

Many businesses assume that a standard parts washing system will work best and be most affordable for their needs. But as with any other tool, you must examine the purpose. What will your parts washer be used to clean, and how often will it be used? Daily? All day? Are the parts it will be used on difficult to clean, dry, or dip? What is the chemical composition of the dirt or grime needed removed? How many workers will be required to run it? Will they have to be taken away from other work? What are the requirements for waste disposal or emissions? An off-the-rack solution is perfectly acceptable for many parts-washing needs, but many of our customers have found that properly designed parts washing systems save their businesses money over time and make complying with environmental regulations an easier task.

If you have any questions about which kind of system would be best for your business, AEC Systems would be happy to advise you.

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The Importance of VDA 19’s Impact on European Manufacturing

parts washer

VDA19 Parts Washer from http://www.pfonline.com/

We found this article regarding cleaning standards and best practices as advocated by our friends in Europe interesting.

The German Association of the Automotive Industry’s VDA Volume 19 is the first comprehensive standardization document for characterizing the cleanliness of products within the automotive industry’s quality chain.

Defined standards for residual particulate contamination of functionally relevant components in the automotive industry are self-evident today. This is especially true in Europe, where the German Association of the Automotive Industry’s VDA Volume 19 is the first comprehensive standardization document to deal with the approaches and procedures for characterizing the cleanliness of products within the automotive industry’s quality chain.

As more manufacturers and finishers in the U.S. look to see if VDA 19 standards may come to the North American supply chain, attention should be paid not only to the cleaning process, but to the entire process chain. Even the tiniest particles left behind in the wrong place can cause damage and system failures. “Technical cleanliness” is therefore a quality criterion, particularly when it comes to parts for the automotive industry, precision engineering and hydraulics.

Read the rest at: http://www.pfonline.com/articles/vda-19-and-its-impact-on-european-manufacturing-and-cleaning

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Wet Blasting Process in Industrial Parts Cleaning Described

Aqueous Industrial Parts Cleaning Process

industrial parts washer effect

Photo from: http://www.pfonline.com/

The concept of the wet blasting process in parts cleaning and surface finishing is straightforward enough: combine abrasive media with water to form a special slurry, then add regulated compressed air to control the pressure as it is discharged over a surface.

It is a dust-free and static-free process that removes burrs, scale, oxidation and rust, marks, paint, and coatings. It can also remove oils and grease while performing other functions such as preparing the surface for other coatings or processes.

Today, matte finishes are a popular choice for parts—often for both practical and cosmetic reasons. Automated slurry-blasting machines are a great choice for achieving fine, non-directional matte finishes in a single operation. Depending on the application, profiles of less than 4 Ra are possible, and users can choose from various media, including glass beads, ceramic or plastics.

The slurry-blast process virtually eliminates embedded media issues commonly found in dry blasting systems. The water and slurry are recirculated, requiring no drain hookup. The process does not create dust, and chemicals are not required, adding to its appeal for manufacturers committed to limiting their environmental impact.

Read the rest at http://www.pfonline.com/articles/have-a-blast-cleaning-parts

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The Evolution of Aqueous Cleaning Technology

We at AEC thought that this was an interesting article (if a little dated). Let us know what you think.

Aqueous cleaning technology is changing more rapidly than ever. Since this industry was launched by the adoption of the Montreal Accords on VOC reduction in 1992, the technology in aqueous industrial parts washers has gone through several distinct phases. This cleaning method has become a vital part of manufacturing for almost every type of product, and close attention is given to ways to improve this process in order to keep up with ever-increasing customer and regulatory demands.

Phase 1—Working Like a Solvent

The initial expectation was that water-based cleaners would work much like solvents. Chemical formulations were developed to make water mimic the solvent properties of the most popular degreasers that were being phased out as ozone depleters or exposure risks. These solutions, or water-based cleaners, were seen as inherently cheaper, because the hydrocarbon portion of the solutions was greatly reduced relative to original solvent degreasing materials. Plus, water was essentially free!

Continue reading article at processcleaning.com.

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