Two SKF engineers have invented a method for cleaning components in industrial production using rainwater as the cleaning agent.Günter Strasser, head of industrial engineering in the tapered roller bearing production in Schweinfurt, Germany, and Thomas Gawronski, head of heat treatment at the SKF plant in Lüchow, Germany, have combined a new washing procedure and the use of rainwater.
In this innovative procedure, during the manufacturing process oiled components are flooded from above with bursts of water through a perforated box instead of using an energy-intensive high-pressure wash. A special pump also moves approximately 200 cubic metres of water per hour around in a closed circuit. The oil is continuously removed in a separator. Fresh rainwater is needed infrequently, after a significant time has passed.
The water used in this process must be very soft so that the flood cleaning functions correctly. Previously, local water, which was very hard, was softened in an osmosis system that required large amounts of energy and chemicals. This is why the engineers started looking at rainwater, which is naturally very soft.
The engineers found that with rainwater no cleaning chemicals were needed, and the temperature of the wash water could be lowered while achieving a more steady temperature control for all components.