Plessey Semiconductors Saves on Production Time [read more]

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Plessey Semiconductors benefits from process water filtration

Electronics company, Plessey Semiconductors Ltd, develops and manufactures products for the communications, industrial and medical instrumentation and high-reliability markets. It is this combination of world leading processes and creative design that has yielded many novel and innovative products and critical to its manufacturing process equipment is its cooling system.

Plessey's manufacturing methods are of an exacting standard involving small capillary tool work. Iron and bacterial residue had been identified within its closed loop cooling system, illustrated by brown stained water and tea leaf like deposits, which were causing blockages. The blockages were reducing the flow of water which was raising the temperature, resulting in a halt in production.

The build-up of sedimentation was also a problem when there was a sudden loss of power. Such outages would depressurise the system and the subsequent ‘shock' start would disturb these settled particles to cause further blockages.

Colin Mitchell, Plessey's senior facilities engineer, said: "Plessey Semiconductors is a very new British company, following a management buyout, and like many UK businesses we have been striving to make headway through difficult times. Our award winning innovative sensing and LED silicon substrate products are leading the way globally and it is this capability to deliver world class products that necessitates the eradication of anything that is going to create production downtime.

"We could ill afford blockages in our cooling system which was frequently losing us two to three days production time. We had sought earlier advice from water consultants who said that there was nothing wrong with the water quality.

"After 18 months of disagreeing with this prognosis, the loss of time and effort being experienced by the manufacturing department was becoming increasingly unacceptable. Clearly we needed to establish how we could reduce the suspended solids in the cooling circuit. We therefore looked for a specialist water filter and discovered the high efficiency water filtration technology called the CrossFlow AMF engineered by Industrial Purification Systems (IPS).

"The CrossFlow AMF worked a treat. Within a matter of days the filter technology had fixed the problem and, on-going, we believe the same water quality is being achieved. Quite honestly it was the best thing we could have done for that system because it has saved us the loss of production time.

"We also liked the cost of the filter technology and the payment plan that was offered."

Andy Evans from IPS said: "This closed loop cooling system already had an iron removal system and 1 micron cartridge filters installed.

"However, the cartridge replacement was costly and the flow gauges at various points within the system were fouling with biological material and proving difficult to read.

"We carried out a site survey and a subsequent laboratory analysis of the water established that most of the contaminants were sub 3 micron and organic in nature.

"A CrossFlow AMF media filter system was sized to treat 3% of the volume of the system on an off-line loop. The filter was supplied with its own process pump so there was no interruption or negative effect on the system pressure which importantly had to remain stable.

"Immediately following commissioning of the system the water samples were again analysed with an inflow to the filter measuring 58.3 PPM-V and an outlet of the filter of 0.2 PPM-V. Clearly the filter in a single pass was proving very effective.

"Repeat tests were conducted two weeks later and the background levels were being maintained at less than 2 ppm.

"This project is a very good example that industry should no longer accept poor water quality. The benefits of high quality water filtration are many and for Plessey, manufacturing output was being optimised giving it back the control it needed to continually deliver its world-class products."



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