When you survey your surroundings after a disaster, the ability to clean and restore items seems impossible. That’s because the damage left behind from water, smoke, fire and mold can be severe. But the cleaning team at Werner looks at this damage and sees something different – opportunity. With modern ultrasonic and electronic cleaning systems, there is a greater opportunity to restore items after a disaster. (You won’t believe the items that can be cleaned instead of replaced.) “There are so many items that would have been unsalvageable before this technology,” explains Jaclyn Thompson, vice president of business development, during a tour of the cleaning facility. Do you want a peek behind the curtain at the contents cleaning process? Here are five things you may not know.
Success starts with sorting and staging.
One of the most important parts of this process begins before anything arrives at the cleaning facility. This is when the Werner team sorts like items together at the home or business. For example, contents are sorted by how they will be cleaned – with high temperature, frequency or for an extended period of time (due to durability or extent of damage) And once the items arrive at the Werner facility, hard durable contents are sorted into baskets in the processing room. This preparation is an important step to success.
The ultrasonic cleaning facility resembles a science lab.
When you enter Werner’s cleaning facility, you’ll first notice white walls, bright overhead lights, and stainless steel surfaces and machines. The space is clean and organized, much like a lab. Similarly, everything in the space is intentionally placed.
The process is set up like an assembly line.
Like factory assembly lines, the ultrasonic cleaning process has specific steps and seven stations. Each station is designed and engineered for success – including rinsing, washing Ultrasonic processing and drying. A basket of like items makes its way through each of the steps, spending an average of 3-4 minutes at each stop. “This is a process that is streamlined for efficiency,” Jaclyn explains. This means that the process is faster and less expensive, which is a huge perk for the home or business owner. In the past, 20-25 boxes could be processed a day. But today, 75 boxes of items can be processed daily.
Liquids are a key part of the process.
The key part of the ultrasonic cleaning process includes using liquids like water and cleaning solutions. And the steps actually include submerging items. In the ultrasonic processing tank, the items are submerged and sound waves are used to create bubbles. These cavitation bubbles are able to reach where nothing else can. “Before, you weren’t able to get inside so things would have been unsalvageable,” Jaclyn says. “Now we can.” It seems counterintuitive to use liquids and submersion to clean some items – like power tools, for example. In fact, even electronic devices without a digital display can be cleaned during this process, which would have been impossible in the past. But the last step is important. This is when items spend 3-4 minutes in the tunnel drying station. This means the items end the process clean and dry.
Don’t forget other electronics.
Items with a digital screen or computer board are treated in a separate electronics cleaning system. This process uses compressed air, de-ionized water and specialty detergents in an O’Delle electronics cleaning chamber. Then the electronics are transferred to a separate drying chamber for the drying process.
The bottom line
It’s easy to think that damaged items in a disaster will always have to be replaced, which was true in the past. But Werner’s high-tech tools and skills mean that items can be restored more often than ever. Learn more about the process as well as some misconceptions about the process.