How to Choose the Right Cleaner

We all want the best least expensive cleaner to do our cleaning job. The question is: What cleaner works and meets all my needs on my nickel plating line? When comparing cleaners you need to make sure that you are doing a complete and thorough comparison. Several things must be evaluated to determine a complete picture.

First you must understand and know what you are cleaning:

  • The base metal
  • Soils to be removed
  • Time allowed
  • Temperature allowed
  • Rack or barrel
  • Concentration
  • Waste treatment requirements
  • Makeup and dump schedule
  • Makeup investment
  • Use investment.

Following the basics will lead you to an effective answer to the question “does this cleaner or that cleaner meet all my needs?” In the instance of determining if you can use old cleaner or need a new replacement cleaner, make sure you consider all factors.

Waste Treatment

In today’s world, waste treatment often is the first consideration. Can I waste treat the cleaner in house without causing any changes to the effluent water quality? Will I have to send it out for treatment off site. If you currently send the cleaner waste out for treatment you may want to look at a cleaner that can be treated in house. This question is important since it could add or eliminate some costs related to the cleaners use investment.

What is the Base Metal

The next step is to determine the base metal of the parts depending on the metal and acid or alkaline cleaner can be used. Typically the parts must be cleaned but not etched for nickel plating.  Most cleaners used on aluminum, copper and steel are all different and require vastly different components to ensure no etching occurs.

More than one base metal?

Will you be cleaning more than one base metal on the line? If you are cleaning more than one base metal the cleaner must not etch but still clean the part. The balance required for multiple base metal cleaning in the same tank often is difficult. Most cleaning operations are on one base metal due to the difficulty trying to do too much in one cleaning tank.

Now that we know the base metal there are a few more questions ,

  • What are we cleaning?… Petroleum Oil…Water soluble oil…grease… dirt???
  • How much time is allowed in the machine for cleaning?
  • Does the part come clean now?
  • What is the cleaning solution temperature achievable in the line? 

Knowing the Time and Temperature will direct us on the concentration. Since the effectiveness of cleaning process often hinges on these three factors ….Time, Temperature, and Concentration.

If the time is short and temperature low the concentration will have to be high to clean the parts. While if the time is short but the temperature is high the concentration does not have to be as high. Needless to say Time: Temperature: Concentration all are related to each other and changing one effects the other two.

Once all of this is determined and an effective cleaner is determined then we move to the total investment. What is the total investment required now which includes Makeup cost, maintenance cost, dump cost, waste treatment?

For example if a cleaner is made up daily with the makeup cost of $150/day, maintenance-$20/day, Dump cost-1 man hour$15/day and waste treatment-750 gallons/day at $0.5/gal. The total current cost is 150+20+15+375=$560/day If you had a cleaner that lasted 2 Day and had a makeup cost $300/2 day  or 150/day etc. (300+20+15+375)/2 day =$355/day. By lasting two days even with a cleaner twice the makeup cost the maintenance cost, dump cost and waste treatment cost is reduced in half, over a years’ time that adds up.

So look at the whole picture to find “real” savings.