ISC Optimizes Cleaning Process in the Rail Industry

West Virginia


Safety and energy savings are top concerns in the rail industry

Class 1 railroads are the major players in the railroad industry.  Operating approximately 70 percent of the track miles in the United States, Class 1 railroads, such as CSX and Union Pacific, deploy hundreds of trains daily to transport all sorts of products and materials.

Each of these locomotive engines must be thoroughly cleaned to operate safely and protect cargo from contamination. In an effort to keep their employees safe and reduce energy costs, one Class I railroad reached out to ISC to develop a chemical that would create a safer and more energy-efficient locomotive parts washing process.


Class I railroad was experiencing rising chemical and energy costs

The parts washing process previously used by the Class I rail company was centered around using chemicals requiring high pH levels and high temperatures.  In order to maintain the high temperatures necessary to operate the parts washers, burners would run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Operating these washers continuously at 185-190oF consumed tremendous amounts of energy, which corresponded to an equally tremendous cost.

Furthermore, the basic solutions would have to be neutralized with substantial quantities of acids before being treated for oil and grease contamination and eventual discharge.  This process greatly increased the chemical cost that was noticeably impacting the CSX bottom line.

Beyond the cost of energy and chemicals, the wash cycle time is also a key performance factor in the cleaning process.  Wash cycle times for engine components would range from 45 minutes to 3 hours depending on the part.  Reducing this cycle time would improve the efficiency and productivity of the cleaning process.


ISC 18425 - a special formula that saves energy by reducing the temperature requirements

DMP recognized the difficulties that CSX was having with their cleaning process regarding operating costs and product safety.  The energy usage and chemical costs coupled with extended wash cycle times created a vast opportunity to improve their process and immediately deliver value.  DMP designed a cleaning process utilizing DMP 18425 in combination with DF 4030 to address the inefficiencies of the previous cleaning operation of CSX.

DMP 18425 was specially developed to deliver enhanced cleaning at lower temperatures and reduced concentrations than competing chemicals.  Designed to be used in tandem with DMP DF 4030 defoamer, DMP 18425 is non-hazardous and delivers efficient cleaning performance.

The defoamer is pre-dosed in the wash water at a concentration of 64 ounces per 1,000 gallons and cycled through the system.  DMP 18425 is then added to the system at a 2.5% solution and cycled through the system to complete the process resulting in a level of clean that was better than the previous cleaning process.


Customer noticed a better overall cleaning, lower chemical costs, and energy usage

The combination of DMP 18425 and DF 4030 only require a fluid temperature of 145oF which is 40-50oF below that of their previous cleaning process.  This dramatic reduction in input of heat needed corresponded to an equally dramatic decrease in energy consumption.

 Furthermore, the sheer amount of chemicals required for the DMP cleaning process is 50% less than the previous cleaning process used by CSX.  In addition, the wastewater treatment facility reported that no neutralizing acid was required to treat the wastewater.  This reduction in chemicals needed for the wash cycle and elimination of neutralizing acid during the wastewater treatment process resulted in significant and ongoing cost savings as well as reductions in environmental impact and safety exposure to facility personnel.

This reduction in energy usage, chemicals needed, and the elimination of the need for a neutralizing agent resulted in a direct cost savings of approximately $100,000 per year.

With regards to cleaning performance, the DMP chemicals delivered impressive results.  The cleaning quality was reported to be better with the DMP chemicals than with the previous chemical formulae.  Each part type was observed to have a better overall appearance after cleaning, and the highly machined parts were even seen to have a more noticeable sheen.

Last but not least, the wash cycle time of the DMP cleaning process was analyzed.  While some parts took the same amount of time to be cleaned as the previous process, many part types achieved a faster wash cycle time.  This was observed over a wide range of part sizes and soil loads. From small engine parts to complete locomotive block assemblies and from light oil and grease to baked-on, carbonized soil, DMP’s cleaning process delivered results better than the previous process in cleaning performance.

The partnership of ISC and the Class I railroad was an all-around success, and by no means, an exception to the value ISC brings to many industries including railroads. With the ISC 18425, CSX is now realizing a reduction in energy usage, chemical consumption, and wash cycle time with increased cleaning performance and personnel safety.  These results also reduced environmental impact. 

Condensed Version