BOC has invested in a new gas-cylinder valve-cleaning solution that improves health and safety and reduces annual cleaning costs by as much as 60%.
The new process sees a traditional Trichloroethylene (Trike) operation replaced by an environmentally-friendly bath system which is healthier for operatives, makes for cleaner cylinders and lowers lifecycle costs. The change was initiated by BOC maintenance foreman, Wayne Drew.
When used oxygen cylinders are returned to BOC, a member of The Linde Group, for cleaning, it is imperative that any existing valve residue is removed and with it the risk of contamination. The new, automated cleaning process utilises Novec HFE 71DE engineered solvent with an ultrasonic vapour cleaning unit and is very effective at degreasing all component parts.
Says Wayne, who works out of BOC’s Wolverhampton depot, “The new process is much healthier all round – for employees and the environment. In addition, while cost was not the primary driver for change, BOC has accrued significant savings since making the switch. As well as reducing vapour loss, it consumes a lot less energy and, in its first nine months of operation, used just over 30kg of Novec HFE71DE solvent compared to an estimated 300kg of Trike.
“It is also operationally efficient. The equipment requires less cooling time which, in turn, enables faster throughput. Automating the process reduces risk of human error.”
The new solution satisfies all four elements of BOC’s safety, health, environmental and quality – SHEQ – agenda. It is a productive alternative to Trichloroethylene cleaning, and crucially, it eliminates the need for operatives to undergo health monitoring. It is now classed as best practice for BOC UK and Ireland and The Linde Group around the world.
Prior to making the switch, BOC internal quality analysts worked with suppliers, 3M and D&S Ultra-Clean Ltd, to conduct a thorough trial cleaning process which included repeated testing of contaminated cylinders, an in-depth emission monitoring study and toxicity reports.
Novec HFE 71DE is based on a hydrofluorether (HFE) formulation that is non-ozone depleting and does not contain any hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) or hazardous air pollutants (HAPs).