21.03.2012  Cleentek’s Airbus Project

Cleentek Ltd have just been awarded a new contract to supply a Robot Cleaning Line, for cleaning aircraft fasteners, which are used in the manufacture of wings at Airbus’s Broughton Factory, near Chester.

The line has been designed by Cleentek, working closely in conjunction with Yaskawa Motoman Robotics, who are one of the world’s leading robot manufacturers with more than 220,000 robots installed world-wide.

The aircraft fasteners were cleaned previously using an ultrasonic cleaning system, which used 2 different solvents for removing sealant from the fasteners. Following research and development over a 2 year period, Cleentek have devised a new cleaning process, utilising aqueous cleaning processes and eliminating one of the solvents.

Contaminated fasteners arrive at the line in plastic boxes. The robot picks the boxes up and empties the fasteners into cleaning baskets. The dirty boxes are then placed in a box cleaning machine.

The fasteners are pre-washed initially using a water-based chemical. The pre-wash system is a Frontloader Type cleaning machine, which sprays a heated waterbased chemical on to the fasteners at high pressure to remove swarf and other loose contaminants. This system is also fitted with a drying process, so the fasteners are dried before the robot picks them up and deposits them in the next machine in the process.

The next machine is an Ultrasonic Cleaning Unit, fitted with an agitation system. In this line, there are 2 Ultrasonic Cleaning Units, each with a capacity of 4 baskets. The Ultrasonic Unit heats up the cleaning solution to 60 Degrees Celcius and fasteners are immersed for 20 to 30 minutes. The Cleaning Solution, together with the scrubbing action of the cavitation process, breaks down and removes the sealant from the fasteners.

Following Ultrasonic Cleaning, the baskets of fasteners are again picked up by the robot and then taken to the final post-wash system. This post-wash system is also a Frontloader Type cleaning machine, but this unit is fitted with 3 stages. The first stage uses the same waterbased chemical, as is used in the pre-wash system. This wash removes any sealant which has not being totally removed in the ultrasonic cleaning unts. The second stage rinses the fasteners and leaves a small amount of rust inhibitor on the fasteners. Finally the fasteners are dried using the warm air blower which is fitted to this machine. When the cycle is completed, baskets of clean and dry fasteners are taken to a filling station, where they are filled into the now clean boxes.

Clean Boxes of Pins exit the line, via an inclined roller conveyor, where they are stacked and taken back to the wing assembly lines, ready for re-use.