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Cleanliness campaign at Heiche Surface Technology GmbH

The subject of component cleanliness has quickly become an essential requirement for many different industries. There are hardly any drawings left that do not note limits in regards to component cleanliness. The HEICHEGROUP is affected by this development in many ways. Heiche is already known as an industry leader of metal surface treatments, especially with light metals such as aluminum, magnesium, steel and zinc die castings. In most cases, the raw materials will get delivered to Heiche in an unknown state of cleanliness, and they are expected to leave the Heiche locations with a defined extremely clean level of particles, through our surface treatments. To ensure such a high level of cleanliness, Heiche launched a multi-step “Cleanliness Initiative” plan in 2005. The first step was to install microfiltration systems in the component baths with the highest amount of dirt, in order to reduce carryover of particles.

In 2010, as part of a companywide analysis, products from all production lines were examined for cleanliness. The cleanliness was tested according to VDA Volume 19 and/or customer standards. Most findings matched the requirements, but it is important to note that the analysis only provided snapshots of findings. In order to continuously treat parts according to cleanliness specifications, we must practice continuous improvements of all our processes. Such improvement efforts do not only affect the treatment and coating processes, but also the entire supply chain, from raw material to customer delivery, will affect the cleanliness of a product. It is our responsibility to evaluate the cleanliness of all raw materials and the final product; and, as part of our “Cleanliness Initiative”, we decided to invest in a Residual Cleanliness Laboratory. For this we installed the laboratory with a special air handling unit; and we are now able to us those special rinsing cabinets, in a controlled lab environment.

The received rinsing solution will be processed through special filters and drying. Any particles found in the filter visible under the microscope will get analyzed for size and quantity of such particles, according to VDA-Belt 19. This stage of the cleanliness initiative was completed by the second quarter in 2011. With this initiative in place, all customer components and parts could be evaluated for cleanliness at every step of the process. With the help of continuous analysis, Heiche is able to continuously improve its processes and optimize the cleaning capacity of its treatment processes.