Critical components can be as large as a basketball or small as an eraser, and certain components will always be considered critical, especially those that are rotating every minute the line is up.
Maintenance programs typically come in two forms: preventive or predictive. While the denotations might seem fairly obvious, each type of maintenance comes with its own specific implications.
“On a predictive maintenance program, equipment and component manufacturers have what they call mean time between failure,“ said Jim Kline, president, the EnSol Group and Baking & Snack contributing editor.
In a predictive program, a baker can work with the supplier to anticipate the life span of the piece and replace it before it stops working.
Rowdy Brixey, president and chief executive officer, Brixey Engineering, Inc., suggested routine oil checks as a viable trick for certain critical gear boxes or drives.
“If you continually sample oil, you could see things like metals, brass, chrome or changes in the pH or signs of water,” he said. “Then, based on oil analysis and things like how often the equipment runs or the temperature it’s running, a logarithm can gauge how much life is left in the oil. When it hits zero, you’re at high risk of a failure or at minimum increased component wear.”
Maintenance intervals can be based on run time but could also be adjusted for individual intervals and common signals of maintenance such as sound, consumption changes or emerging dust.
Mike Chapman, director of PSM compliance and technical solutions, Stellar, also indicated the importance of maintaining clean oil, water and coolants.
“Lubricants, cooling fluids and even water must be monitored, filtered and/or treated regularly,” he noted.
While predictive maintenance is based on time and frequency, preventive is rooted in manufacturers’ recommendations and modified by a baker’s experience with the equipment.
“Preventive programs perform routine maintenance — inspections, lubrication, adjustments, component replacement — on fixed frequencies to prevent failure,” Mr. Kline noted.
Mr. Brixey suggested tools such as load trending to track amperage on a drive. By running the same product on the mixer each day and establishing the amps a motor uses under a defined set of circumstances, the baker can trend the amount of energy that’s to be expected.
“Once you set a baseline, you can trend that over time to see if for some reason you’re using more energy than you typically do,” he said. “It may not tell you exactly what’s wrong, but it will let you know there’s a reason to look for a problem.”
For its ingredient handling systems, Shick Esteve offers predictive tools to proactively catch problems before they happen.
“To monitor air quality through an air filter, we may use a couple different types of broken-bag detectors — either a particulate sensor or passive induction — depending on the application,” said Jason Stricker, director of sales and marketing, Shick Esteve. “On a critical motor for a blower, we would use a combination of temperature and vibration sensors to monitor data over time for anomalies, which would alert us if the motor was nearing a point of failure.”
The mixer motor also may be maintained preventively with help from tools such as the variable-frequency drive like those Topos Mondial offers. These drives can monitor amperage and infer how hard the machine is being loaded, said Ondrej Nikel, director of engineering, Topos Mondial Corp.
“The idea with preventive maintenance is that you establish a baseline for when the machine is good and healthy, and then you can compare each day to that baseline,” Mr. Nikel said.
Then again, some bakeries may employ a hybrid program, Mr. Kline said.
“What you have in this case is a preventive maintenance program that’s based on cycles or time,” he suggested. “Instead of every three months you go in and change a chain or something like that, it’s cycle based, and the PLC feeds back to the maintenance system to relay information such as the divider just reached its thousandth hour of time.”
Programs like this are still new, Mr. Kline indicated, noting that it’s more common in industries such as aircraft maintenance.
“But it’s certainly growing as people look at the technology they have and discover how best to use it,” he added.
There are benefits to each type of program; knowing which works best depends on the equipment, operation and parts to be maintained.