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Case Study – Knorr Bremse

Date: 8 September 2021 | Category: Case studies

How Safetykleen helped

  • Creating efficiency gains of more than 66% through reduced cleaning cycle times.
  • Reduction of environmental impact thanks to Aqueous, water-based cleaning solution.

Learn how Knorr-Bremse and Safetykleen came together to work on a new surface treatment machine solution to deliver significant productivity improvement and outstanding cleaning results.

“Our new process, developed with the new Automatic Aqueous cleaning machine solution supplied. Safetykleen reduced the cleaning cycle from 30 minutes down to 7 minutes! Not only was the cleaning time reduced but the cleaning is now more efficient and has a significantly less environmental impact.”


Knorr-Bremse provides overhaul/repair services for the Rail industry. Components and systems which have been in service on trains for decades are returned to original equipment levels of performance and safety. The essential first step is for every component received to be thoroughly cleaned, preventing any accumulated dirt and oil from entering the internals of the system endangering loss of performance or safety levels. The main challenge was to increase the throughput of the components without compromising the quality of the cleaning process. Customers’ feedback universally identified that they wanted a much faster turn-around of overhauled components and more capacity but with no loss of quality, performance and safety.


When starting this process improvement project the team made an early decision to work closely with parts washer equipment manufacturer, Safetykleen. Established in the UK for over 40 years, Safetykleen is widely seen as the market leader in parts washing and chemical application services. The Knorr-Bremse team later reported that the decision to work closely with Safetykleen on this project was a major contributor to its success. The Knorr-Bremse team were not satisfied with many of the ‘off the shelf’ solutions available and decided to work in partnership with the Safetykleen to optimise the efficiency of the system. This close working relationship saw Safetykleen offering the latest specification Aquakleen automatic parts cleaning machines with new chemistry formulations developed for the specific requirements of this application.

Results, return on investment and future plans

The team began by creating a current value stream to identify waste and opportunity. They then developed a shared vision of what the area needed to deliver and how the workflow could be optimised and the working environment improved. Following many months of planning, a proposal was created with each member of the team contributing. Views of the staff who were to work in the area and operate the new process stream were all captured. Meetings were held with staff from Safetykleen to ensure that they were fully aware of the process requirements and the demands placed on the newly installed machines.