A global manufacturer of components for hydraulic systems needed a high-quality solution that would streamline oil removal from their small tunnel washer for its cleaning line. Their current process was compromising the company’s ability to deliver consistent products under efficient operating conditions, so they needed to take action in order to continue to meet their high standards for customer value.
During the production process a small tunnel washer was used to clean the parts. Unfortunately, the wash system was producing a significant amount of oil, and much of the free oil in the system was being deposited on the parts. During wipe tests, residual oil would collect on white cloth. In fact, the parts would only become clean after passing through exit rinse water. Furthermore, because the system utilized municipal water, the parts were exposed to chloride, which increased the risk of corrosion. Quality assurance testing was culminating in inaccurate results, and it was becoming increasingly challenging to validate that the components did not contain excess oil.
Operation of the tunnel washer was problematic, and it required regular maintenance that contributed to significant downtime. In order to remove the oil, operators were decanting material and physically pulling the oil off the top by draining the oil from underneath.
The tank holding the water and cleaning solution contained 3 inches of sludge. The water in the cleaning tank was a thick, gray solution, and the cleaning solution decayed quickly. Plus, operators needed to perform titration testing on a daily basis. Finally, overflow from the rinse cycle to the wash side of the operation was causing the system to overflow.
The oil management deficiencies of the tunnel washer system resulted in daily checks that would force the system offline. The system was also shut down on a weekly basis to allow operators to manually clean the tanks and replace the water. Costs to dispose of the wastewater and oil averaged about $5,000 per month. In order to improve the cleaning process the facility supervisor drew on previous experience to install a cost-effective solution that would reduce downtime, lower labor and disposal costs, and enhance product quality.
The manufacturing team did a machine review, technology review, and visited a sister company who had a similar system installed—a PRAB Tramp Oil Separator. They researched the separator’s capabilities at the facility, where several other PRAB systems were installed—including in the operation’s in-line parts washing process. The team determined that adding this step to their facility’s cleaning process would yield the efficiency, cost-savings, and product quality they were striving to achieve.
With the installation of the tramp oil separator the parts are now sprayed with the wash water, then the sprayed wash water moves to the wash tank, and then to the tramp oil separator. Here, the contaminated fluid flows through a series of baffles and a porous media bed, where free and mechanically dispersed oils are separated from the fluid. Clarified fluid flows over an effluent discharge weir back to a
reservoir for reuse.
The oils and other contaminants are collected and automatically discharged from the tramp oil separator system by an adjustable weir into a container.
Automated, continuous oil removal and separation from the wash water, as well as improved filtration practices, produces clean, chloride-free water. Monitoring of the cleaning solution is automated and titration measurement is continuous. Operators can now read the gauges. The rinse and wash sides also have been separated, eliminating the overflow of rinse water to the wash side. The results of these enhancements were clean parts, lower expenses, and a significantly more efficient process. In addition, product quality has improved and customer satisfaction has increased.
The PRAB Tramp Oil Separator provides the manufacturer with an economic solution for removing free floating and mechanically dispersed tramp oils and for extending the life of wash waters. The tramp oil separator provides simple, trouble-free operation, utilizing gravity flow and coalescence. The system can effectively reduce tramp oils up to 99% in a single pass.
The system’s automatic air sparger purges media of any collected particulate or greases and assists with the removal of larger oil droplets to help keep the system’s coalescing media clean. The air sparger performs automatically, for 5 minutes every 24 hours. The tramp oil separator requires virtually no maintenance, is compact in design, and helps to reduce new fluid purchases by 45% to 75%.
The manufacturer realized the following operational advantages and bottom line benefits:
|Cost of PRAB Tramp Oil Separator|
|Labor savings from eliminating downtime for weekly cleanings and water replacement|
|Labor savings from eliminating off-line daily checks|
|Oil and wastewater disposal cost savings|
|Total Annual Savings|