WHEN heavy vehicle repairer Robinson Field Engineering found that available industrial parts cleaning machines were expensive and dangerous to use, the company started building its own.
Two years later, Australia's first fully automated industrial cleaning machine, the Cyclotron, is the result - bringing with it cost savings and unmatched operator safety.
Incorporating PLC controls and pneumatic valves and lid operation, the Cyclotron is claimed by its developer to be the first fully automatic industrial parts cleaner available in Australia.
Spray wash machines are a vital part of the parts cleaning process within the engineering industry - from the small components handled in engine workshops, auto-electrical repairers and light and heavy duty repair centres to the large components used in mining equipment.
Lindsay Robinson, proprietor of Robinson Field Engineering, said: "Spray wash machines have been around for a number of years but all have posed serious risks to safety. We haven't reinvented the spray wash principle, but have totally redesigned its operation."
As well as automatic lid operation, the Cyclotron unit has a fully protected rotating member system which holds the lid closed until the rotating wash basket is stationary, preventing possible injury through contact with spinning parts.
Injury caused by high temperature chemicals is also avoided as detergent flow in the Cyclotron will only commence five seconds after the PLC unit registers that the lid is in a fully closed position.
While similar machines operate at 80 to 95 degrees Celsius, the Cyclotron's operating temperature range is 50 to 60 degrees. The reduced burn risk to operators, combined with other safety features, has led to the Cyclotron being the only machine of its kind to be awarded a WA WorkSafe Safety Innovation Award.
During the Cyclotron's development, tests showed that detergents used by other parts cleaners were ineffective in lower temperatures. In response, RFE developed its own detergent specifically for use in the cooler water used by the Cyclotron.
RFE claims its custom detergent is cost effective, biodegradable and can be easily disposed of through workshop wastewater systems once suspended solids are removed by flocculation.
Developing a detergent that works best in lower wash temperatures was important as it not only results in additional safety for operators but also lowers operating costs through reduced energy consumption.
Throughout the planning stage, Lindsay maintained that machine reliability, efficiency and operator safety were major priorities. He consequently enlisted SMC Pneumatics to provide technical advice during the machine's development.
After trialing other brands, Lindsay also chose to purchase all of its pneumatic components, including cylinders, valves and regulators, from SMC's large product range.
"We had such valuable advice from suppliers such as SMC that without their input the Cyclotron wouldn't be what it is today," Lindsay said. "SMC staff have been able to provide excellent in-depth product knowledge which led to our purchase of pneumatic components that have given us cost effective reliability."
Cyclotron machines are now available from the newly established Cyclotron Industrial Cleaning Equipment factory in Bunbury WA. They are currently available in two sizes, although further product development is underway. SMC Pneumatics 02 9354 8222.