Case study: telecommunication component manufacturing


Courtesy of Watman Ltd.

JMC Tools, formerly ADC Solitra Inc., offers integrated RF solutions for the telecommunications industry worldwide. The product range of the company covers high frequency components and modules for cellular and PCS systems, both analogue and digital. The company has close links with the world’s leading OEM manufacturers of cellular phones and infrastructure and has a strong applications-oriented view when it comes to technology development. JMC Tools has recently introduced a new line of wireless cell site products for cellular and PCS/PCN networks providing operators with cost-effective means for enhancing their existing or planned networks. Some high-quality products — such as JMC Tools’ — cannot be manufactured without high-quality water.

Tap water is not pure enough in all areas to attain the desired product attributes. Even pure water contains a high level of dissolved non-organic minerals and various organic compounds that can interfere with sensitive processes. Deionized (DI) water is used in power plants to produce pure steam, as well as in fields such as the medical, surface treatment and electronics industries, and laboratories.

Several methods are used to produce DI water, the most common being distillation in small-scale, ion exchange and reverse osmosis. Each method has its own unique characteristics, and the best end result is often achieved by combining different techniques. Ion exchange traditionally involves strong chemicals that must be neutralized. Counter current regeneration combined with packed-bed technology reduces the amount of chemicals needed, and is a technique that achieves the best possible water quality. In fact, counter current regeneration technology substantially improves the operational and environmental friendliness of the equipment.

When dealing with low TDS feed water, packed-bed technology with counter current regeneration is normally the most economical choice, especially for producing large volumes of DI water.

Semi-permeable membranes have recently been the targets of rapid development. With reverse osmosis, it is possible today to achieve an excellent water quality with a low supply pressure and a good recovery ratio. Unlike in ion exchange, the amount of chemicals used is generally very small, so this is a particularly good method for sites that do not have a neutralization plant.

When dealing with moderate/high TDS feed water, reverse osmosis — not being sensitive to most neutral salts — is normally the most economical choice. Reverse osmosis does not need chemicals but has the drawback that it rejects a part of the feed as more or less concentrated effluent. Nevertheless, this concentrate can be re-used elsewhere in non-sensitive processes, such as pretreatment.

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