The refrigerator and freezer manufacturing process demands that products are 100% free of dirt and debris.
As the global leader in home and professional use appliances, Electrolux Group is all too familiar with this dilemma. The Electrolux Refrigerator Factory, located in Nyiregyhaza, Hungary, produces combi-bottom and one door refrigerators and freezers.
During the refrigerator/freezer manufacturing process, insulator foam is injected between the inner liner and the shell to ensure thermal insulation. If there is any minor leakage between the coupling parts, the foam fills the holes and leaves foam remnants on the surface of the product. Because Electrolux's products are for home and professional use, it is crucial that the products be totally clean of any dirt, debris and insulator foam.
Manual cleaning methods using chemicals and hand-tools were timely and labor intensive. The hand-tools presented safety risks and often led to scratching the surface of the shell. A scratched surface is discarded as scrap, costing the company a significant amount of money each year.
The factory also needed a cleaning solution that would coincide with its lean manufacturing program, headed by László Koncsek, in an effort to minimize waste and increase productivity.
Koncsek cited these factors as key to choosing a cleaning method:
- Ease of use
“We are producing on production lines and do not want to slow production to stop and clean. We also have to train 15+ people to use the machine, so it is important for it to be easy to operate.” - László Koncsek, Lean Specialist
The Solution: Dry Ice Blasting
Koncsek and the plant manager consulted with an Electrolux plant in Italy and discovered that dry ice blasting has been implemented with great success.
Dry ice blasting uses recycled CO2 in the form of solid dry ice particles that are transported by high-velocity airflow to remove contaminants from surfaces. The dry ice particles sublimate on impact, transitioning from a solid to a gas, leaving no secondary waste behind.
Benefits of dry ice blasting include:
- It is non-abrasive and will not damage sensitive parts
- Allows items to be cleaned without disassembly
- No secondary waste
- Environmentally responsible, safe and non-toxic
- Easy to use
Dry ice blasting proved to be an excellent investment for Electrolux Nyiregyhaza:
1) Major cost savings
The process enabled cleaning of delicate surfaces and tight cavities that other machines can't reach. The dry ice blasting process is non-abrasive and there was no risk of damaging products, saving the factory thousands on scrapped products.
2) Reduced downtime
Dry ice blasting does not require disassembly so products could be cleaned in place, keeping production moving without costly stoppage. Dry ice blasting machines are mobile, allowing production teams to clean on an as-needed basis wherever it is required.
3) User friendly process
The system proved to be user friendly and safe for employees. Employees no longer had to perform painstaking and lengthy manual cleaning.
4) Environmentally responsible
Dry ice blasting is non-toxic and does not produce secondary waste streams, which aligns Electrolux's environmental initiatives.
“Dry ice blasting systems are more efficient with relation to the quality of the clean, and the speed has improved our business.” - Koncsek
The Electrolux Nyiregyhaza plant has already calculated their return on investment and found that they have been able to recuperate the cost of the machines based on scrap savings alone. Dry ice blasting machines have proven to be a value-add investment for the company.