The spring clean – that odd occasion where you attack the housework with extra vigour and clean the top of the cupboards and behind the fridge. The difference between a spring clean and summer shut down is the fact that there is nothing stopping you cleaning behind the fridge any day of the week. Shut down is often the only chance engineers and plant managers have to spruce up machinery.  Peter Crossen, VP of the Maintenance and Partsmaster Innovation Platform at global water, energy and maintenance solutions provider, NCH Europe, looks at how to take full advantage of plant shut down.

Plant engineers approach summer shut down on a mission to replace broken parts and upgrade systems. While all of this is necessary to keep production at optimum levels for the next twelve months, it is also important to take advantage of this time to clean everything thoroughly.

Can you see the problems?

Plant engineers need to clean and degrease all machinery and parts before beginning maintenance work, as this will take away any grime-concealing problem areas that could result in down time during the rest of the year if you miss them.

To make this step easy and effective, you need to choose the right degreaser for the job and there’s a lot to consider. For instance, do you know if you need a degreaser that’s low foam or silicate free? Is the degreaser you’ve chosen NSF approved for use in your food production plant? Do you actually need a solvent-based degreaser?

Making the right choice will make degreasing easier, faster and more worthwhile. To help, you should approach a provider that can offer you a variety of options, such as NCH Europe’s Aqua-Sol range of water-based degreasers, as well as the knowledge to support your decision.

Out with the old

Shut down is the only time where you can swap out oils and greases. However, you can’t simply throw a new lubricant into place; you need to remove all trace of the old one.

For optimum performance, your new lubricant needs to be in direct contact with the part you’re protecting and cannot be contaminated with particulates that have accumulated during the year. Something like NCH Europe’s Flush & Clean solution will dissolve deposits and neutralise any acidic contaminants.

An effective cleaning product like this works by being allowed to run through the system for a brief period of operation. This separates the deposits from the system surface, leaving them suspended in the old lubricant so they are removed during change out.

Don’t let the little things trip you up

You never really think about your coffee table do you? At least not until someone moves it two inches to the left and you walk into it. This is a bit like the crack in your warehouse floor, the rust on your machinery or the fissure on your external wall.

You get so used to seeing the cracks and the rust that you don’t notice they are getting worse until someone trips or a pipe bursts.

To remove rust and apply protective coatings you need space and time, so shut down is the best time to approach things like this. At NCH Europe, we’ve developed a full range of products to make all of this as straightforward as possible. For instance, our Salvage 2+ is an epoxy formulation that combines treatment and protection against rust into one step by encapsulating rust and preventing it from causing further corrosion, while at the same time creating a protective layer that locks liquids out.

We also offer one of the most hardwearing industrial floor coatings on the market, DuraBond, as well as Impervo – a coating that will protect external walls from the elements.

Going into shut down without factoring in cleaning undermines the long-term benefits of any maintenance work you undertake. An empty plant is the ideal environment to get everything spic and span before production starts up again to make a new mess. It’s a bit like doing your spring cleaning while the kids are out.