With maintenance costs for the average food and beverage manufacturer adding up to around 15-20% of total production costs, is it time for the sector to implement the same condition monitoring techniques that have proven so successful in other sectors? The answer is simple: yes, and the sooner, the better.
At present, many maintenance departments in food and beverage operate time-based maintenance programmes, whereby rotating components are replaced after a predetermined period of operation or when failure occurs. Because food and beverage production is typically high volume and fast output, if failure does occur then the cost of production downtime can quickly total tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds.
This doesn’t have to be the case, however. Instead, by implementing a culture of preventive maintenance through condition monitoring, manufacturers can optimise the scheduling of maintenance work to eliminate production downtime and increase the operating life and reliability of assets.
One of the most commonly used condition monitoring techniques is vibration monitoring. As a global leader in the provision of vibration monitoring equipment, we’ve helped many food and beverage manufacturers to benefit from identifying and resolving problems prior to failure and seen first-hand the significant efficiency and cost savings that can be experienced.
In our discussions with maintenance teams in the food and beverage sector we’ve learned that two misconceptions often limit their use of condition monitoring: the time and effort it takes to run such a maintenance programme and initial investment cost. In fact, the vibration monitoring process is simpler than many other preventative maintenance techniques: once correctly specified and installed, output data from vibration sensors can either be read periodically using sophisticated hand-held data collectors, for immediate analysis or subsequent downloading to a PC, or routed via switch boxes to a centralised or higher level system for continuous monitoring. As for the cost of investment, this is insignificant compared with the cost of machine downtime occurring for just one day.
About the Author
Chris HansfordManaging Director, Hansford Sensors
Chris Hansford is a qualified electromechanical engineer with over 30 years’ experience in the vibration monitoring industry. In 1986, he was involved in the formation of a sensor manufacturing company and, as Managing Director for 20 years, successfully grew the business and gained a wealth of commercial experience within the UK market. In 2006, Chris moved on to set-up Hansford Sensors Ltd, a manufacturer of accelerometers and ancillary equipment that has already become a global market leader.