Washing Time

As a Fleet Maintenance manager, your attention has to be directed at getting things done. Moving vehicles through the door, performing the necessary service, then getting them back on the road as quickly as possible is more than a full-time job. To succeed, it must be done efficiently and cost-effectively.

One area that has often been overlooked is the need to clean dirty parts as part of the repair process. Everyone recognizes that dirty parts must be cleaned before reassembly, but figuring out how to do it most efficiently takes work.

Parts cleaning is as much a process as analyzing a vehicle problem, determining how to correct it, and then doing the corrective work. Using the wrong process and/or equipment can be very costly due to time lost by your mechanics.

To develop an efficient parts cleaning process, these are the items you should consider before even thinking of equipment:

1. Categorize your parts by size and weight. You'll especially want to determine what the maximum size and weight will be. Very small parts will possibly need some type of basket or container to hold them while they are cleaned. Knowing the range of sizes and weight you typically handle will help you later in equipment selection.

2. Once categorized, develop a general idea as to the quantity of parts in each category that need to be cleaned daily and weekly. This will help in determining whether you will need some degree of automation to reduce time, allow the mechanic to return to his job while the cleaning takes place, and make the process flow efficiently.

3. The parts handling aspect of cleaning is often overlooked. Consider the following:

You will have parts of varying size and weight. Many can be hand carried to the parts washer, but others will require some type of material handling.

Where do you locate the cleaning equipment? Walking or moving between job, parts washer, and return to the job can involve a lot of unproductive time if the cleaning equipment is not located properly (here's where the information gathered in steps one and two will help). Situate the equipment to be as centrally located as possible or use multiple cleaners where appropriate.

4. To pick the proper chemistry and process, you need to know what you are trying to remove. Some jobs take different fluids than others.

5. With the above information, you can then call in equipment vendors to give you recommendations for equipment and cleaning fluids to solve your total cleaning needs.

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