6 COMMON AUTOMOTIVE CLEANING MISTAKES
1. TAKING SHORTCUTS
In a production environment where small savings can add up quickly, it’s tempting for manufacturers to look for the cheapest, quickest result. Unfortunately, things that seem cost-effective in the moment can have unintended consequences down the road. In the case of cleaning, shortcuts don’t always pay off. They can lead to decreased parts quality, sub-par welds and coating applications, and bottlenecking in the manufacturing process. While high-tech, laser cleaning solutions may seem to carry a hefty price tag up front, these costs are considerably less when you factor in low operating costs and the manufacturing efficiencies gained.
2. LEAVING TOO MUCH ROOM FOR HUMAN ERROR
Often in manufacturing, the most variable element to an operation is the people involved in the process. Some workers may be highly skilled and efficient with a great attention to detail, whereas others could miss spots, work slowly, or be otherwise inconsistent. The human element — though indispensable to any operation — can cause a high level of quality variance. The answer, of course, is not to replace all of the people with machines but rather to capitalize on the jobs humans can do well while automating those processes in which the human element can lead to inconsistency or inefficiency.
One of the primary benefits of laser cleaning to automotive manufacturers is the ability to integrate cleaning into the manufacturing process itself. This not only eliminates the chance of human error, it speeds up production output by reducing downtime required for cleaning. Additionally, automation allows for consistent, repeatable results, ensuring a high-quality level for every cleaning.
3. RELYING ON MASKING
Masking is one of the most common ways automotive manufacturers prepare parts for painting and other coating applications. By carefully applying masking tape to specific parts, it prevents overspray, flaking, and other potential flaws from ruining a paint job. Often, however, the masking process takes longer than the painting itself. What’s more, masking invites more room for human error, since a poor masking job can cause the whole part to require re-coating.
Laser cleaning takes a different approach to coating. Rather than masking the parts you don’t want painted, it allows you to apply the coating directly without any taping process. Then, after the coating has been applied, you simply remove it from select areas. This saves time on both ends of the coating process — allowing for rapid coating application as well as eliminating the painstaking effort of masking.
MISTAKES AFTER PURCHASING A LASER SOLUTION
Automotive cleaning mistakes are not only reserved for those who haven’t yet made the switch to laser cleaning. Even after purchasing laser equipment and having a customized solution built for your operations, there are still pitfalls to be aware of.
4. NOT MAINTAINING YOUR LASER CLEANER
While laser cleaners are low-maintenance and easy to operate, they do require some regular maintenance, such as cleaning the optics, changing the air filters, and maintaining the cooling system. Like any piece of equipment, the long-term performance and consistency of a laser cleaner depends on how well it’s maintained.
5. PIECEMEAL CHANGES IN PRODUCTS OR PROCESSES
When we create a laser cleaning solution for your operation, we customize it to fit perfectly into your process. This ensures optimal levels of both quality and efficiency in every cleaning. However, as operations change over time or accrue new variables, the original cleaning solution may not be as effective as it was when the process was originally created. If you’ve introduced new parameters into your manufacturing process, our laser experts can work with you to determine how to re-optimize your solution for the new parameters – such as incoming part quality, different contaminants, new materials, etc..
6. POOR OPERATION (USER ERROR)
Laser cleaning is built to be user friendly. However, no technology is completely foolproof. User error is higher for handheld or manual devices, but it’s still possible for automated systems if best practices are not observed. Failure to follow safety protocols, quality assurance measures, or maintenance requirements can lead to diminished cleaning performance and efficiency. Fortunately, we offer both safety training and ongoing support for the laser solutions we create.
WHATEVER YOUR NEEDS, ADAPT LASER HAS A SOLUTION FOR IT
Adapt Laser specializes in the know-how and application of laser cleaning solutions. We offer products with a range between 20 and 2,000 watts and provide training to ensure your employees can get the most from their laser cleaning solutions. We’ve equipped a variety of industries and companies with laser cleaning solutions — including military and defense for the US Air Force and Navy — and hundreds of organizations trust our state-of-the-art laser cleaning solutions.