Preventative Maintenance
Ignoring the signs that a mixer needs maintenance could result in severe wearing on the bronze bushing (left), such as this mixer that one supplier was contracted to rebuild. Proper maintenance keeps the bushing in-tact, as indicated in the image on the right.  

On a production line, there literally are thousands of components that could require maintenance at any given time. Over the years, the ones that are considered most critical to watch have evolved with ever-changing technology advances. That said, some always will be considered critical.

“Any rotating, pivoting or sliding parts across the line are where the most focus must be,” suggested Jeff Dearduff, corporate director, baking and snack, The Austin Co. “There will always be roller ball and roller bearings installed in equipment, and they rotate every minute a line is producing. Those parts still rotate while waiting for production to start and even during some cleaning or after production is finished.”

Oftentimes, criticality depends on the likelihood of failure and the severity of the stoppage it would bring. And likelihood will depend on the condition of the equipment and parts. In other words, a new installation would be less conducive to failure than a 20-year-old operation being maintained. Next, couple likelihood with the potential severity, and you can identify the risk.

“You have to ask yourself, ‘How severe would this be if it goes down?’ If you can use a workaround, it’s not as critical as if the entire process stops and you lose the oven, proof box and all the doughs and mixing,” said Rowdy Brixey, president and chief executive officer, Brixey Engineering, Inc.

Related Reading: Equipment maintenance: Prevent or predict?

Jim Kline, president, the EnSol Group and Baking & Snack contributing editor, also advised bakers to pay close attention to inline components because they have a greater risk of causing a line to shut down.

“For instance, if you have a mixer motor go out, that doesn’t stop you from running the proofer, the oven or all the other components downstream,” he said. “But let’s say the inline cooler stops. Where does the product go from the oven? And if you stop the oven, and it’s inline, where does the product go from the proofer? The most ¬critical components are inline.”

However, Mr. Dearduff warned bakers that big problems could come from seemingly small parts. Critical components, he observed, can be as large as a basketball or small as an eraser. But make no mistake: “Any one of these going to failure could take a line down,” he warned. “I believe every component is critical, and any single component can take you down.” Imagine the O-ring on a sealed component. It might only cost 50c, but it could create a ripple effect that could result in hours of downtime.

“No matter what the component is — a wear part or sealing component — a missed inspection or poor installation could lead to failure,” he said.

While there might not be such thing as small parts, some could be considered more critical than others, said John Hunter, sales account manager, bakery and ingredient handling, Bühler, Inc.

“The blockage of ‘only’ an airlock could lead to the standstill of a complete line,” Mr. Hunter said. “And there is equipment with a lot of dependencies and no bypass option, which can be more critical than others.”

For its JetMix system, the company developed a predictive maintenance tool to monitor critical components such as drives and valves.

Additionally, Shick Esteve provides customers with a spare parts list, which identifies components as critical or non-critical and recommends bakers keep these particular items in stock in case of stoppage.

Bruce Campbell, vice-president, global product technology, AMF Bakery Systems, recommended spare parts are critical pieces of the maintenance ¬puzzle.

“A thorough analysis of the spare parts list from the OEM will ensure critical maintenance and wear parts are available,” he said, adding that staying on top of the spare parts will also help avoid taking short cuts when parts need replacement.