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Embrace the Clean: A Fresh Perspective on Shutdowns

Embrace the Clean: A Fresh Perspective on Shutdowns


Embrace the Clean: A Fresh Perspective on Shutdowns

Every year, like clockwork, we at ASACLEAN receive calls from processors during their shutdown periods. These are times when production halts, but maintenance continues. The most common reason we’re contacted? Contamination build-up.

Many processors operate 24/7 and can’t afford to purge, so they battle contamination as it arises. This approach often leads to higher-than-normal scrap rates and lost machine time.

Contamination is a widespread issue, particularly in extrusion applications such as sheet, film, blown film, and blow molding, but it’s also prevalent in injection molding. Since the machines are already shut down, the common thought is, why not use a purge compound to remove all the built-up contamination? It’s a reasonable idea but akin to rolling the dice.

In some cases, everything goes according to plan. In others, it just exacerbates the problem. The best purge compounds will do what they’re designed to do, but they’re not a “Magic Bullet.” We’ve seen situations where purging a machine under optimal conditions releases significant carbon. The problem is, it just keeps coming… for hours afterward.

In such cases, the result is a machine teardown and manual cleaning, which, while time-consuming, is made more accessible by the initial purging. However, this entire event could have been avoided. It’s best to “Bite the Bullet” and tear down and clean in situations like this.

Once clean, the most economical and practical way to proceed is to take 15 – 30 minutes to perform routine preventative maintenance purges to keep the line free of contamination.

Preventative Maintenance Purge Opportunities:

Even if you’re running 24/7, at some point, the line will be down for some reason (maintenance, malfunctions, etc.) for some time. Use that time to purge.

  • If you’re doing dark-to-light or dark-to-clear color changes, take the time to purge. Not only will you minimize the time and scrap of the color change, but you’ll also benefit from contamination removal.
  • If you’re doing a problematic material change, take the time to purge for the same reasons.
  • If you start with a clean machine and notice the first signs of speaking sometime down the road, take the time to purge. The contamination has not significantly built up yet, and there’s a perfect chance we can remove it all when caught early.

Schedule a preventative maintenance purge monthly, quarterly, or semi-annually, depending on your situation.

The goal is to stay ahead of contamination build-up. Remember, prevention is better than cure!

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