Metal Finishing Guide Book


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5 - Can you tell me about sizing, dimensions? The product has to fit into the cleaning equipment. At the same time, larger process baths cost more money. There are ways to compromise. If 98% of the product can be in small- to medium-sized tanks, it may be better to purchase a smaller system and make other arrangements for the larger parts that show up a few times a year. The cleaning equipment has to fit into your facility. Obtain the overall dimensions; and this means all three dimensions; and it includes the maximum height needed for operating hoists. Will the equipment fit into the workspace? Are the ceilings high enough? Can you get the cleaning equipment through the door? Ask the facilities department to provide actual measurements; "sure, we can do it" is not an actual measurement. How much space are you allowing? Is there room to load and unload product? Is there space to do routine maintenance? 6 - How much does it cost? While this is the final question on our abbreviated list, it is one to ask several times in the process. Early on, ask for what is sometimes gently referred to as a budgetary estimate. This term is a euphemism for "how close will the boss come to a heart attack if I try to buy the equipment." The company budget can limit your choices. If the cleaning technology you want costs half a million, and the boss has generously allocated up $30,000, a reality check is needed. Particularly for larger items, it's a good idea to get multiple estimates. To get realistic estimates, take the time for interchanges with the reps; walk them through the production area; listen to their sales pitches; ask questions. In addition, work with your process team and advisors to determine what features would most improve production. We typically see a wide range in vendor estimates. The estimates and the options suggested can be an indication of the vendor's understanding of your process and also of likely support down the road. Keep in mind that capital equipment costs tell only part of the story. In Table 1, we list other cost factors to be considered, including facilities considerations, installation, education/training, and ongoing process costs. Chemicals, replacement parts, routine maintenance, and disposables like filters (and the costs resulting from properly disposing of the disposables), all have to be factored in. Chemical costs can be misleading. An expensive cleaning agent that cleans effectively and that can be recycled or redistilled may last for years. An inexpensive aqueous formulation that must be used at, say, a 1:4 dilution and must be replaced weekly may not be a bargain compared with a second product that could be used at a 1:10 dilution and lasts for two months. Even with very rugged cleaning equipment, repair and replacement is needed. Look for the weak links in the chain. What parts are likely to need replacement? What's the mean time between repair/replace? How long does it take to get replacement parts? Depending on where the equipment is made, the availability of replacement parts can be an issue. Purchasing a "kit" of replacement parts may be cheap insurance. Ongoing support by the cleaning equipment vendor can save money. This support begins at the employee training/education stage. Many newer cleaning systems require instruction. Some vendors charge for training. Resist the temptation to pass on the training option. However, charging for initial training is not a promising indication of ongoing vendor support. Question to ask yourself again: why are you buying new cleaning equipment? What do you actually need? During the equipment search, review the initial question, the one you yourself 102

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