Parts cleaning equipment that was once almost an afterthought in a workshop now epitomises a culture change among some of Australia's most progressive companies.
Where once workshops were dirty, cluttered environments where it was good enough to brush parts over with turps before re-assembling an engine or gearbox, today's new generation workshops are surgically clean and filtered parts cleaning is recognised as vital to component longevity.
In the Hunter Valley this new approach is being taken up wholeheartedly by Daracon's four workshops that between them look after a massive fleet of 400 light vehicles, 250 trucks and 260 pieces of heavy earthmoving and crushing equipment.
Daracon started life in 1983 as a civil construction company with two owners and six employees. Today it is enjoying exponential growth, boasting 900 employees and an annual turnover in excess of $360m.
According to Daracon's Environment and Quality Manager, Gary Gazzard, the company's transition to state of the art workshops is very much a partnership between Daracon and suppliers such as Caterpillar and Bulbeck Envirosolutions, a company with which Daracon has been dealing for a decade.
In partnership with CAT, Daracon's workshops are being transformed to surgically clean with the aim of eliminating contaminants for improved equipment uptime.
Daracon's Maintenance Operations Manager, Neill Morrison, said that much tighter tolerances in equipment these days demanded a better approach to cleanliness at all levels.
For many years Daracon has used a variety of Bulbeck cleaning equipment including solvent sinks and hot wash machines, but when the company set out to meet CAT's stringent contamination control guidelines they decided to trial Bulbeck's F07 parts cleaning machines - a solvent based cleaner with four-tier filtration to meet ISO 16/13.
Orders for F07s were placed within weeks of a trial machine being set up, such were the outstanding results.
Neill Morrison said one of the real benefits was an improvement in the assembly process and he would expect a benefit in terms of equipment uptime.
"It's a great advance, quite honestly. Most parts cleaning equipment drains through a medium such as wire mesh or nylon that lets through anything that's not a chunk and these get circulated back into the wash again, whereas with the F07 filtered cleaner, parts are washed in a filtered cleaning solution," Neill said.
"At a minimal cost the benefit is a big positive in the workshop.
"The cleaners are about making life quicker and easier and hopefully give us an improved result," he said.
Neill and Gary concur that the transitions in the workshops, from the physical changes in the facilities to the new equipment, are all dependent on the 70 employees and contractors taking up culture change, a process that CAT's audits to date have indicated is progressing.
Neill said the change must also encompass suppliers and to this end Daracon has a policy of scouting around to find and recruit the best suppliers in their various industries.
In the case of Bulbeck, Daracon is now using their full range of parts cleaning equipment together with cleaning products and workshop consumables. Bulbeck is also helping Daracon achieve best practice in environmental management through the provision of spill control kits and containment products.
The fact that Bulbeck offers a lease/rental arrangement and a tailored service cycle is real advantage.