Modified alcohol cleaning solution transforms parts cleaning into strategic advantage for 3B Fluid Power

ipcm® Industrial Cleaning Technologies
May 2020

The switch from aqueous to solvent cleaning helps precision mechanics firm achieve cost savings, energy reduction and operating efficiency

3B Fluid Power, a precision mechanics company specialized in the hydraulics sector, bears the hallmarks of a successful enterprising story. Founded in 2002 by three engineers, the Italian company has quickly established itself as a trusted industry sub-contractor for the manufacturing of precision mechanical parts. Serving clients both large and small, 3B Fluid Power has transformed from a small enterprise with less than 10 headcounts into a vibrant organization with more than 30 employees and an annual turnover of close to €4 million nowadays.

The company works with a variety of materials including aluminum, steel and cast iron. To maintain its competitive edge, 3B Fluid Power firmly believes in the ongoing introduction of performance-oriented technologies. Its production plant boasts 11 horizontal and 2 vertical machining centers, along with 3 turning machines for precision works. Depending on customer specifications and sectoral specificities, 3B Fluid Power can perform operations on machining centers and turning machines, surface treatments and heat treatments as well as pre-assembly of parts in plastic and/or other components.

The products manufactured by 3B Fluid Power are crucial to providing functionality to the systems into which they are integrated. This is why aspects like attention to detail, cleanliness and precision are non-negotiable. During the production process two main types of lubricants are used, one of which is particularly suited to processing aluminum. At the end of the production cycle, the workpieces produced are subjected to the delicate and crucial cleaning process for the complete removal of any impurities and oil remnants so they can be further processed or assembled along the downstream supply chain.

Inefficient parts cleaning process became a bottleneck in the production

For years 3B Fluid Power had been relying on a water-based cleaning system for industrial parts cleaning. Although it had not received any negative customer feedback about the cleaning quality, it often had to contend with the inflexibility and inefficiency of the system which had a negative impact on its operational efficiency. For example, 3B Fluid Power could not clean different metals at the same time due to concern about contaminations in the bath. It also had to dispose the bath every three months which represented an additional operating cost. Pressured by the rising quality standards expected by customers and ever more challenging production and cleaning requirements, 3B Fluid Power recognized the crucial need to enhance operational performance, and that would require it to process.

Modified alcohol solvent DOWCLENE™* 1601 convinces with its versatility

L’impianto di lavaggio industriale a ultrasuoni IFP, completamente automatizzato, garantisce eccellenza nel lavaggio e flussi di lavoro rapidi.

Just when 3B Fluid Power was evaluating alternative cleaning technology in the market, it came into contact with IFP, a leading manufacturer of modified alcohol cleaning machines, at a trade show. IFP subsequently invited the company to perform cleaning trials and comparative tests on its machines at its headquarters. For optimized cleaning results, IFP specifically recommended the modified alcohol solvent DOWCLENE™* 1601 provided by SAFECHEM, a chemical service company and solvent risk management expert. The high-performance, virgin-grade solvent has both non-polar and partially polar properties. It can therefore remove oils and greases just as effectively as certain polar contaminations like cooling emulsions or solids such as salt, particles and abrasives. The distillable solvent is also characterized by a low toxicity and a good biodegradability. After multiple trials and considered evaluation, in the end, 3B Fluid Power decided to invest in an industrial ultrasonic cleaning machine from IFP, which would be running on DOWCLENE™* 1601. The fully automated machine promises cleaning excellence and speedy workflow.

“The purchase of the machine is a big investment. But looking at our company growth and our increasing turnover, we can well justify the investment of such magnitude. We have also been seeing more and more companies adopting modified alcohol cleaning machines for their parts cleaning requirements, even in our own area. This has given us solid validation for our investment,” said Andrea Barani, General Manager of 3B Fluid Power.

For optimized cleaning results, IFP specifically recommended the modified alcohol solvent DOWCLENE™* 1601. The high-performance, virgin-grade solvent has both non-polar and partially polar properties. It can therefore remove oils and greases just as effectively as certain polar contaminations.

Easy solvent monitoring with MAXICHECK™ test kit

Of course, achieving cleaning excellence has as much to do with the capabilities of the cleaning machinery as the effectiveness of the solvent used. The strength of DOWCLENE™* 1601 lies not only in its proven outstanding solvency power, but also its ease of monitoring for ensuring process stability and reliability. The solvent is supplied by Univar Solutions, SAFECHEM’s distribution partner, in the SAFE-TAINER™ System. This active risk management measure developed by SAFECHEM further ensures safe and sustainable transport, storage and handling of the solvent. With SAFECHEM’s solvent control kit, MAXICHECK™ DCL 1-N, 3B Fluid Power can regularly measure the solvent quality of DOWCLENE™* 1601 to detect any harmful developments. Results recorded in an operating diary are shared with SAFECHEM for monitoring and consultation purposes.

Modified alcohol cleaning solution affords high flexibility, time savings and energy costs reduction

The perfect interplay between IFP’s machine innovation and the unique properties of DOWCLENE™* 1601 has not only helped 3B Fluid Power improve cleaning performance, but has also brought forth significant advantages including efficiency gains, cost savings and optimized work process.

“We can now eliminate the significant water consumption we had previously. This means we can also save on costs related to managing water cleaning and topping up the cleaning machine.”

“We can now eliminate the significant water consumption we had previously. This means we can also save on costs related to managing water cleaning and topping up the cleaning machine,” Andrea Barani remarked.

Thanks to the automatic material recognition system, the new cleaning equipment can clean up to 4 trays of different metal types in one cycle. The machine is also able to automaticall spray protection oil on cleaned components, a task that was not supported by the water-based system and had to be carried out manually. Previously, 3B Fluid Power had to blow dry small components with tiny blind holes because water was often retained in the blind hole thread. This process is now made redundant thanks to the optimized drying function of the machine, which further leads to reduced energy consumption and extra cost savings.

“During the trial tests, it was already apparent that the cleaning quality with DOWCLENE™* 1601 was much better than our previous water cleaning system.”

“Now that we no longer have to blow dry the components, it’s much quieter at the site. As there’s no need for compressed air, this also allows us to save on energy costs with the compressors. We’re definitely working in a cleaner, quieter and therefore healthier and more sustainable environment,” Andrea Barani noted further.

“The results we have been able to achieve since running the IFP machine with DOWCLENE™* 1601 have been nothing but impressive. During the trial tests, it was already apparent that the cleaning quality with DOWCLENE™* 1601 was much better than our previous water cleaning system. Today, we have gained a great deal of flexibility in managing the parts to be processed, our operation is further optimized and we have no more noise in the plant. We can wholeheartedly recommend this highly effective solution to companies who need to engage in metal parts cleaning like us,” concluded Andrea Barani.

™Trademark of SAFECHEM
™*Trademark of The Dow Chemical Company

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