You’d struggle in recent weeks to open a newspaper or turn on a news channel without hearing about the impact the shortage of HGV drivers is having on the supply of fuel – but have you ever considered how quality is assured as well as quantity?

West Yorkshire based specialist cleaning company Sonic Solutions have this year cleaned more than 10,000 components within UK petrol pumps to help to tackle the challenge of fuel quality.

The key component is a manifold, which goes into every single petrol pump. This small metal chamber allows fuel through from the pump and into our vehicles. It is imperative this is blemish free because even the tiniest swarf of metal or other particulate can impact on the quality of fuel dispensed or reduce the lifespan of a pump down from its typical shelf life of 10 years.

Sonic Solutions has been receiving these components in volume as part of a large cleaning contract with Dover Fuelling Solutions.

Multi stage cleaning
The newly manufactured manifolds are shipped from South America to Sonic’s West Yorkshire home where they go through an intensive cleaning process. This includes professional jet washing followed by at least two rounds of ultrasonic cleaning using a specialist ultrasonics tank. The job is completed with drying and packaging and includes high levels of manual intervention throughout.

Technical Manager Ben Peacock said: “When the parts arrive with us, they have usually been through initial jet washing and are 80% clean but we perform that all-important final step before they go into the final pump assembly.

“We achieve a level of cleanliness the manufacturers cannot reach to achieve the high standards required.”

For businesses to take on this process themselves is hugely expensive due to the standard of kit required as well as the health and safety risks associated with the chemical waste disposal involved.

The parts cleaned are always brand new, precision engineered, or cast and milled parts, fresh off the production floor. This means that that they have oils and swarf that need removing before the next stage of the manufacturing process.

Millions of parts
Projects of this scale are commonplace for Sonic Solutions as part of its offering of contract cleaning services focussed on high volume, high specification and a multi-stage process.

The Sonic team has also cleaned more than a million pieces of Lego for a large museum exhibition and on another project tackled 13,000 surgical instruments where the cleanest finish is imperative.

Ben said: “Every job is totally different and because of the nature of these parts we had to be extra careful not to damage them, they also had to be scrupulously clean and dried before returning.

“We’re increasingly seeing companies that are faced with getting thousands if not millions of parts and components ultrasonically cleaned to a high standard and with challenging turnaround times to keep manufacturing timescales on track.”