Choosing Appropriate Cleaning Tests
Contributed by Ed & Barbara Kanegsburg, Cleaning Consultants, BFK Solutions
Manufacturers want a quality product that is competitive and profitable. Achieving and monitoring acceptable surface cleanliness can be the hardest challenge. In our Nov. 2017 column, “Cleaning Tests That Don’t Cost Much,” we responded to a request at the Precision Machining Technology Show (PMTS) with options for affordable, low-cost cleaning tests. Low-cost tests are not the only way to achieve a wealthy person’s approach to quality on a pauper’s budget.
When it comes to industrial cleaning – spend smart.
Being frugal is not looking for the lowest cost—it’s looking for the smartest cost. The successful manufacturer doesn’t only avoid costs. He or she values knowing as much as possible about the benefits and limitations of a cleanliness test and of staying on top of process trends. Decisions can then be made to hone in on a solution rapidly. A test that fails to detect a contaminant, either because it is the wrong test or not sensitive enough, wastes the time and costs of performing the incorrect test. The wrong test gives a false sense of security. This security will be shattered if the process drifts out of control and yields plummet.
Use analytics cleaning tests frugally.
A more costly analytical lab test can save money if a problem is averted before low yield creates a panic as well as costly scattershot solutions. Analytical testing should be used frugally. Manufacturers probably know the process, likely contaminants, and current customer and performance requirements better than the lab. They know, or can determine, the acceptance levels for contamination at specific points in the manufacturing process. By working with the lab and advisors to choose the right test, manufacturers will save money. Is identification or characterization needed? For some applications, the number and size of particles, not what they are made of, is what counts. In other instances, non-specific testing for organic residue may be enough. On some surfaces that need to be coated, limited inorganic residue may be acceptable, but oils or greases would compromise coating quality.