A major automotive assembly facility faced periodic downtime due to quality problems in its robotic welding systems. After the robotic technicians spent several days trying to solve the problem, one of the maintenance workers opened the heat exchanger and discovered that it was clogged with cottonwood seed, insects and other debris. Flow had been reduced, and the robotic equipment was running hot.
While cleaning the heat exchanger got the robotic welding system back online and running at peak performance, it did not solve the problem. The maintenance crew realized that they needed a filtration technology that would protect the entire process cooling system.
Maintenance personnel evaluated both water-based and air-intake filtration systems. The water-based system would provide varying degrees of protection for the chiller and heat exchanger but would not protect the cooling tower, which was at the root of the plant’s problem. With a water-based system, the cooling tower would continue to draw airborne debris into both the fill and the water. The water filter would capture the debris before it circulated throughout the system, thereby solving the heat exchanger problem, but it would do little to reduce maintenance on the cooling tower. In comparison, the air-intake filtration technology would protect the entire process cooling system, including the fill material, cooling water, chiller and heat exchanger. Further, when the crew compared the cost of water-based filtration to air-intake filtration, the latter was the more cost-effective approach for the application.
The plant installed an air-intake filtration system and has reaped the benefits of reduced downtime and maintenance.