Has your can washer seen better days?

5 ways to bring it back to life

Not many pieces of equipment take more abuse than a washer. Depending on the circumstances and original components, canmakers are seeing as little as a three-year life on areas of their washers. Considering the expense required to replace them, many canmakers are looking for options.

What can a canmaker do when they see critical components of their washer start to fail? Many are starting to take advantage of fully prefabricated replacement parts.

These in-field replacement options are giving canmakers worldwide a huge advantage over the alternative – buying expensive, new equipment. These benefits include:

  • Extending washer life at a fraction of the cost
  • Avoiding 1-2 month outages
  • Increasing plant efficiency and versatility with newer technology
  • Reducing footprint with more sustainable components

Here are 5 key washer components that can be prefabricated and easily replaced in your plant:

Hold down bearing boxes

Prefabricated hold down bearing box replacement on an 8-year-old washer in Ohio after it started to leak and compromise the steel components.

The Red Flag:

When bearing box seals fail, you’ll notice water leaking external to the washer. And as soon as the chemicals are outside the system, it’ll corrode the stainless steel sidewalls and areas directly below it. Over time, pocket walls, shaft seals and bearings lose effectiveness. This leads to catastrophic failure and an unplanned shutdown.


You can have replacement hold down bearing box kits fully fabricated and then shipped directly to your plant. Canmakers can plan for a shutdown of only one to three days while they’re being replaced.

Blowoffs/air knives

New air knife installed on 10-year-old washer in Texas, United States.

The Red Flag:

When air knives start to lose effectiveness, canmakers will start to see an increase in carryover of chemicals between stages.


Air knives can be easily replaced onsite with prefabricated replacements. When ordering a new air knife system, canmakers should consider the velocity of their older model. Newer designs allow for better and more efficient systems.

Also, when ordering new prefabricated air knives, canmakers have the option of replacing them with a newer, more sustainable technology that uses recirculated airflow. These more advanced systems utilise only one blower and use the air contained within the system (vs. air from outside the washer). This minimises the exhaust fan airflow required to keep the washer balanced.


Prefabricated risers replaced on 20-year-old washer in Florida, United States.

The Red Flag:

Canmakers are often challenged to be more versatile and produce multiple types of cans, but they might not have the risers to efficiently support it. A quick solution may be needed for changeovers by replacing their single can size risers.

Due to lack of available personnel, canmakers also increasingly require a design that makes maintenance easier.


Traditional riser systems can be traded out in the field for quick release risers.

Risers should be analysed for a few different features:

  • Weight: Lighter weight risers are now available for easier transitions between different can diameters and can be designed for simplified cleaning and maintenance.
  • Nozzle density: The most efficient risers will have high density nozzle spacing. While traditional risers may have 27-35 nozzles, a more advanced system will have as many as 47 of them. More nozzles result in more contact points on the can.
  • Centres: Less efficient risers will have 12-inch centres. New, more efficient systems will have 8-inch centres. This increases production capacity and efficiency.

Can guide

The Red Flag:

This is another factor in canmaker flexibility. Traditional can guides (value-guides) aren’t optimised for can size changeovers. If a plant needs to produce different diameter cans, the can guide will be one of the components to examine.


Upgrading the can guide to a tight pack allows for flexibility to optimise the washer for different diameter cans. A versatile tight pack system can be prefabricated and designed for installation on site.

Sprockets and shafts

The Red Flag:

Washers utilise shafts and sprockets as part of a conveyor to transport cans through the system.  Without a well-maintained conveyor, no cans can be made. Often sprocket teeth and shafts wear out over time due to friction and corrosion.


With a simple drawing, your trusted supplier should be able to provide customised sprockets for replacement right in the plant. And when installing new sprockets, your washer’s shafts should always be replaced. These components have a similar life expectancy, and after years of wear, old shafts often don’t fit with new sprockets.

Bonus: passivation processes

Hot dip passivated stainless-steel tank and header.

The stainless steel components of a washer take the brunt of the corrosive chemicals that’re constantly running through the equipment. The process of passivation is the key factor of a component success story (or failure). It provides the barrier to harsh chemicals and protects the integrity of critical welds that prevent leaking.

But not all passivation processes produce the same results. A hot dip, nitric acid passivation will result in the longest life for stainless steel while a brush-on, citric acid process will only mildly protect the stainless steel. For anything related to washer components, a discussion about passivation could ensure that you aren’t planning the same project again in a few years.

Contact: https://www.heattek.com/request-for-quote.html

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