When you purchase equipment, think of hidden costs as well as price
17 May 2018
As Victorian art critic John Ruskin astutely observed, “it’s unwise to pay too much but it’s worse to pay too little”, says Richard Bastable.
Most of us unconsciously follow this philosophy in our personal lives, either due to scepticism or bad experiences, refusing to be swayed solely by the price tag of household appliances. Yet, this approach is less common in professional environments.
This is particularly true in the industrial parts cleaning sector. Because many maintenance engineers and plant managers have fixed budgets, they usually only consider the upfront cost of renting or purchasing parts cleaning machines. However, there are several hidden costs that can quickly mount up to make a cost-effective machine a costly error in judgement.
Waste disposal charges
Traditionally, many parts cleaning machines have made use of hydrocarbon chemical solutions to remove dirt and deposits from industrial components. This has been due to a belief that water-based chemistries are less effective or efficient. Unfortunately, this results in elevated waste disposal costs.
For example, if a maintenance engineer is renting a solvent-based sink-on-drum parts cleaner, this might not initially seem like a costly problem as many suppliers will include a regular waste disposal service. However, as solvents are classified as hazardous waste, plant managers will be required to comply with environmental standards – which may involve a lot of costly paperwork.
This creates costs not only in paying for the waste services, including the waste notes, but also in the person-hours spent completing and recording the paperwork, as well as the charges of disposing the hazardous waste itself. Similar programmes exist in other European countries.
Water-based parts cleaning technology has developed significantly in recent decades and now delivers an effective clean with less harmful waste per use. For example, NCH Europe’s Torrent parts cleaners combine an environmentally-friendly water solution with a high-pressure jet. This keeps waste disposal fees low without sacrificing effectiveness.
Operation and labour costs
The most overlooked factor when selecting a parts cleaning machine is its operational and usage costs. Maintenance engineers must consider the energy usage of the machine and the amount of manual cleaning needed.
While solvent-based cleaners have long been considered the standard for industrial environments, many require engineers to manually scrub the components, which adds a lot of non-value added time (NVAT).
Because many maintenance engineers and plant managers have fixed budgets, they usually only consider the upfront cost of renting or purchasing parts
This can be avoided with automatic or high pressure parts cleaning machines that combine effective chemistry with high pressure jets to remove build-ups without manual scrubbing.
Similarly, the energy costs of a machine: NCH Europe’s Torrent series of water-based parts cleaners have a slightly higher base energy usage than many sink-on-drum alternatives, due to the process of heating the cleaning solution.
However, the Torrent cleans most components in under one minute compared to the time taken to manually scrub parts using a sink-on-drum system - resulting in lower energy usage costs in the long term.
It also removes the necessity for operators to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) during use.
By considering all aspects of operation, maintenance engineers can steer clear of the hidden costs of parts cleaning in both the short and long-term.
Richard Bastable is global parts cleaning platform leader at NCH Europe