Knowing how to choose the right parts washer system can be a challenge when you need to find a cleaning solution for your industrial equipment parts. While each type of system can improve production and extend the life of your machines, parts washers also cater to different jobs. They vary by load capacity, size, cleaning ability and other factors.

So, where do you start? This guide will help you find a parts washer that supports your specific application and stays within your budget.

What Is a Parts Washer and How Does a Parts Washer Work?

An industrial parts washer system is what you may think — it’s a system that washes a range of equipment parts. The system is an ideal solution for a variety of parts-cleaning challenges, whether you’re looking to remove the nitty-gritty dirt particles from a slew of machined components, manufactured parts, bearings or oil from an engine. Parts washers remove contaminants and debris, such as:

  • Oil
  • Coolants
  • Carbon
  • Dirt
  • Grease
  • Grime
  • Metals
  • Abrasives
  • Organic materials
  • Pollutants

Designed to wash, rinse and dry parts of various sizes, volumes, weights and materials, parts washer systems are controlled by industrial-grade buttons, PLCs, timers and temperature controls. From there, the system uses three phases to clean parts:

  1. The wash cycle: An automated platform, along with pump agitation, work with a heat solution to remove contaminants ranging from lightweight particles to thick oils and grime.
    The wash cycle: mechanical action such as an automated platform combined with pump agitation, and/or spray, rotation + other methods, work with a heated solution to remove contaminants ranging from lightweight particles to thick oils and grime.
  2. The rinse cycle: The system rinses the parts and gives a notification so you can move them (you only move the parts in a manual immersion tank parts washer-NA in single chamber turntable/cabinet parts washers, conveyor spray washers, automated parts washers, etc.) to the dry cycle portion of the machine.
    The rinse cycle: The system rinses the parts and gives a notification that the cycle is completed to move on to the next step, the dry cycle portion of the machine.
  3. The dry cycle: In this stage, the system uses heated and pressurized air + other methods to dry your parts.

Those cycles are the basic steps a parts washer system takes to function. Other types of parts washer equipment can come with add-ons to complete additional phases, like:

  • Ultrasonic phase: Another process is an ultrasonic clean, which you can often add to the system. It works by adding controlled cavitation in the cleaning fluid.
  • Filtration phase: Filtration is another addition you can opt for with your parts washer. Filtration components can extend the cleaning fluid life while also improving the cleaning effectiveness level.
  • Vacuum Parts Cleaning/Degreasing & Vacuum Drying: shortens cycle times and effective for difficult to clean, intricate components with blind holes and internal passages

Types of Parts Washer Fluids

Different formulated fluids deliver optimal cleaning to specific parts washers. Each supports a particular cleaning requirement with specific formulations to combat contaminations like ferrous versus non-ferrous metals, elastomers and rubber. You can also use different cleaning solutions for parts that are about to be painted or if you need to remove heavy grease and other thick residues.

Two common cleaning solutions include:

  • Aqueous fluids: An aqueous solution is commonly used for industrial applications where contamination levels aren’t as severe. But because this type of solution needs heat to be most effective, you have to make sure your parts washer is compatible. In this instance, consider a stainless steel or plastic version.
    An aqueous solution is commonly used for industrial applications where the contaminants can be cleaned with an aqueous solution or where solvent or environmental issues are a concern. But because this type of solution needs heat to be most effective, you have to make sure your parts washer is compatible. In this instance, consider a stainless steel or plastic version.
  • Solvents: You can work with a solvent solution whether you invest in manual or automated washers. Solvent cleaning is commonly used for maintenance applications because it doesn’t need drying, it works fast and it can remove a range of contaminants.

Benefits of a Parts Washer System

The goal of any equipment manager is to maintain immaculate equipment pieces (equipment manager & equipment pieces is not all that applicable for manufactured, machined components which is a bigger application for us), so you already have a clear understanding of how valuable it is to have clean parts. Here are a few other benefits to consider when it comes to parts washers:

  • Creates a safer work zone: An industrial parts washer makes for a safer environment for you and your workers. With step-by-step processes conducted by automatic washers, the process is safe and efficient. Even with manual systems, safety precautions are in place to keep people safe from harsh fluids and high temperatures.
  • Meets the latest cleanliness specifications: a properly designed parts washing system can assure that you are meeting current industry standard cleaning specifications, while  providing clean, contaminant free parts for the next manufacturing process
  • Increases the lifespan of parts and equipment: By working with proper parts washer systems, you can increase the lifespan of your parts, and in return, your equipment. It’s a step within your preventative maintenance schedule that can save you from costly repairs or replacements in the future.
  • Keeps the process in-house: With an in-house parts washer, you can keep your parts secure in the facility, allowing you to keep proprietary information and products safe. This process gives you complete control in keeping high quality standards.
  • Reduces labor: High-tech parts washers include various techniques and features to ensure your parts get cleaned well and in a short amount of time. Especially with automated systems in your workplace, labor decreases, allowing your workers to allocate their time to more critical tasks.
  • Saves time and money: Instead of outsourcing your parts cleaning, you can reduce costs by not worrying about shipping, driving and labor costs. With an in-house process, you can save money and budget more accurately. You can also benefit from faster deliverable times to improve client satisfaction.

Applications for Parts Washers

Any industry that operates equipment can benefit from a parts washer. Industry, business and warehouse applications can include:

  • Equipment for aircraft and aerospace
  • Food and beverage
  • Medical and implantable devices
  • Metalworking and metal finishing
  • Personal care companies
  • Pharmaceutical and bio-pharmaceutical

Whether you require clean parts to adhere to health regulations in the food and beverage industry or you need contaminant-free parts to keep your aircraft equipment running efficiently, parts washers can accommodate a range of applications.

If you’re wondering how to incorporate parts washers in your facility, ask yourself the following questions for additional guidance:

  • Do you need a power or spray wash system? Do your parts need soaking, power washing, heating solutions, oscillating spray or ultrasonic cleaning?
  • How are you moving parts after cleaning? Are you manually moving the parts or relying on heavy machinery like an overhead crane, mounted jib crane, conveyor belt or forklift?
  • How do you test for cleanliness? You can determine part cleanliness via the white glove test, particle count, visual inspection and the Millipore test.
  • Is the space in your facility large enough? Consider walkways, door swing, door openings, maintenance areas and the parts washer itself.
  • What is the volume of the parts you need to clean? Once you know how much you’ll clean each day, you can better understand the mechanical energy needed, along with the cycle time and the number of loads you need to conduct.
  • What is the weight, size, configuration and quantity of the parts you need to wash? The size and configuration of your parts will decide the minimum size washer diameter and height that will best suit your job.
  • What is your power source? What electrical power and voltage do you have available for the parts washer? Think about a single or three-phase power supply and the total load it can handle.
  • What materials are your parts made of? Are they made of metal, stainless steel, plastic, aluminum, copper, brass or cast iron? Different materials need a unique type of cleaning solution or detergent.
  • What types of parts need cleaning? The types of parts you have could range from engines, oil pans and electric motors to aircraft wheels, bearings, heads and engine blocks.
  • What types of contaminants do you need to remove? Are your parts contaminated with paint, varnish, carbon, oil, rubber, grease or cosmoline? The type of soil will determine the power density, heat level, flow and pressure of the parts washer.
  • What are you using the parts for before and after the cleaning? Are you prepping certain parts for painting or other tasks?

Other things to consider when choosing a parts washer system include:

  • Do you require a single or multi-step cleaning process?
  • What is your current cleaning method?
  • What type of cleaning fluid will you need?
  • What’s your budget?
  • Will the items you need to wash change in the future?

Once you’re able to answer some of these questions, you’ll better understand which type of washer will best suit your operations.

Types of Parts Washers

The best parts washing equipment matches the type, material, size, weight, volume, configuration, quantity and contaminants you’re working with. Different kinds of parts washer systems range from manual and automated to high-pressure spray and ultrasonic.

Automated

If your parts require cleaning for more than 45 minutes or to free up your operator for tasks other than parts washing, it’s recommended to use an automated parts washer. These systems can withstand more than a manual version and help save you valuable labor that your workers can put toward other operational tasks.

Automated systems are often ideal for high-volume and daily cleaning with heavy parts. Two examples of an automated parts washer include the conveyorized system and immersion technique:

  • Conveyorized system: The conveyor system uses a conveyor belt to move the parts from one end of the tunnel to the other. The conveyorized parts solution washes, rinses and dries your parts automatically and uses heated aqueous solutions.
  • Immersion cleaning system: Immersion cleaning is when the washer’s cleaning solution fully covers the parts. You can place one or several parts into the basket for complete immersion and soaking. In some cases, you can also opt to use agitation for a deeper clean. As an automated system, the agitation cleans the parts at a preset cycle and raises the platform once it’s finished for unloading.

High-Pressure Spray

A heavy-duty spray washer is a fast and effective way to clean your parts. Using blasts of heated, high-pressure cleaning solution, the system’s continuous technique cleans tough contaminants and deposits without damaging parts.

Two types of heavy-duty spray washing techniques exist. The first method uses a manual parts washer, and the second uses an automated spray washer:

  • Manual parts washer: If you’re using a manual cabinet washer, start by placing the parts inside behind the sealed door. Use the high-pressure pump to direct the stream of heated fluid to individual sections of each part. Through the cabinet’s window, you can see if a part has blind holes, recesses or crevices that need cleaning.
  • Automated spray washer: During the spray washer method, you work with a turntable inside the cabinet. Again, using the high-pressure pump, you can spray the heated solution onto the parts by using various nozzles — only this time, the turntable rotates the parts for you.

Manual

A manual parts washer system is the most common and often the most cost-effective. It’s an ideal solution for both light and heavy-duty cleaning, especially when you have low-volume contaminated parts you can clean via a brush using low pressure. Manual parts washers usually have sinks that sit on top of large tanks or tubs and are available in designs that can support aqueous or solvent cleaning solutions.

Several features you can incorporate into your manual parts washer include:

  • Bioremediation: Bioremediation is a different type of manual washer compared to aqueous or solvent solution washers. Bioremediation uses a heated cleaning fluid with microbes that eat away at hydrocarbon particles. These microbes remove carbon dioxide and convert contaminants like oil and grease into water. It also constantly circulates the solution to create aeration.
  • Brush: Often used in conjunction with manual parts washers, brushes help you get into small crevices. The brush removes impurities that the cleaning fluid loosens.
  • Direct stream: A direct stream device often accompanies the brush feature. Directed into a flexible hose you can position over parts that have stuck-on material, it uses a low-pressure stream of heated aqueous or solvent fluid.
  • Fluid agitation: Agitating the solvent is more effective than cleaning with standing water. Running through an industrial pump, the agitating fluid is more aggressive at removing dirt.
  • Soaker: This manual parts wash is the simplest and least aggressive. You add your parts to the tub and determine whether you need to use an aqueous or solvent cleaning solution. Then, you leave in the parts — the longer, the more effective.

Manual systems are often recommended for lower-volume projects like in the repair and maintenance fields.

Ultrasonic

Ultrasonic parts washers use a controlled cavitation process to remove contaminants for parts that demand intense cleaning. You can use this system on its own or in conjunction with other types of parts washers.

A generator attached to the system sends a signal to the transducers located at the bottom of the washer tub, converting to mechanical energy. The mechanical energy then induces the formation of cavitation bubbles. These microscopic bubbles collapse, creating a tremendous amount of energy that forces against the parts’ surfaces. This powerful and fast action scrubs off harsh soils. The frequency of your parts washer will determine the force of the cavitation process.

On top of these four main types of parts washers, there are also eco-friendly versions that minimize environmental impact. Fluid conditioning is another process that is particularly ideal for oils and other particulates that require precision cleaning.

Each type of washer uses a different combination of techniques, cleaning fluids and heat treatments to clean a range of parts covered in simple dirt or the heaviest grime. They help extend the life of your parts, allowing your operations to run more efficiently for longer periods.

Contact New England Sales for the Best Parts Washing Equipment

When you invest in the best parts washing equipment for your facility, you can create a safer workplace, save time and money, increase the lifespan of your equipment, reduce manual labor and gain better results. And when you partner with a leading parts washer supplier like New England Sales, you receive a turnkey solution that matches your industry’s specifications.

We have an inventory of leading brands, such as AlmcoRamcoPero and PROCECO, and we sell parts washers and degreasers to industries across the board. With more than 30 years of experience, New England Sales has an expert team that works with you in choosing the right finishing based on your applications and space. We will even drive to your location to learn hands-on what your facility requires as we guide you through the selection and installation process.

Contact a New England Sales team representative for more information on how we can help you find the best parts washer system for your applications.