Tech Flash Vol. 5 No. 22 -- Food Engineering's E-Newsletter
"Wait until it breaks" not a good maintenance strategy
The following tips were provided by maintenance professionals and consultants who participated in Food Engineering’s maintenance feature article that appears in the December 2009 issue.
Ways operations can improve maintenance reliability
- Ensure maintenance, production and plant managers agree and commit to the proactive maintenance program.
- Become vested in your maintenance program by fully engaging the maintenance group and understanding the importance of that partnership, along with the rewards it can bring.
- Make maintenance activities part of the line operators’ work, but equip them with structured guidance on which activities to perform in the situations they’re likely to confront.
- Provide operators with a sense of empowerment in improving the operation of their machines. Have them make the “rounds” to perform basic sight, sound, and touch observations on their equipment.
- If budgetary and cultural obstacles exist, start small, perhaps with manual methods for proof of concept and improvement opportunity quantification. Do this to develop the business case for moving ahead.
- Establish objectives for maintenance reliability. A guide path for each key performance area should be developed and tracked on a daily basis, but reported weekly, monthly or quarterly.
- Develop a consistent maintenance work order system and ensure that employees are trained on specific equipment. Hold your engineering department responsible for keeping plant and equipment in good repair by preventing failures.
Ways corporate can improve maintenance reliability
- Look at maintenance as an opportunity - not a large cost item on your balance sheet. View maintenance costs as a piece of the overall productivity of your plant.
- Among the countless tools available to support reliability, the best tool is the attitude of your employees. If they have the desire and belief to improve reliability, they will select the right tools.
- Equip facilities that make the same product families with the tools needed to understand what downtime/remediation patterns “follow” products. Ensure that each facility can learn from the experiences of others.
- Don’t underestimate the value of delivering work instructions to the line operator via his/her HMI or OEE user interfaces. That IT infrastructure can be used for distribution as well as collection of data.
- When seeking to improve maintenance reliability, communicate the requirements for success to the plants and be ready to support them with adequate funding.
- Use a uniform asset management and maintenance management system at each facility.
- Have a consistent training plan for facility engineering department heads.
- Standardize vendors, parts and equipment as much as possible from plant to plant.
Energy savings, a brilliant idea
During the past two years, the division added roofing insulation, installed new refrigeration compressors and upgraded coolers and freezers. Collectively, these changes saved the company between 10,000 and 30,000 kWh per month. But it was the lighting project that really made the difference, says John Frankhouser, VP of operations at the
General Mills adds collaboration tool
Visitors can view and respond to nearly 50 of the company’s technical challenges. The portal also allows visitors to register with G-WIN and receive ongoing updates about specific projects that match their unique abilities and expertise.The technology enables General Mills to enhance and accelerate innovation efforts already taking place inside the company by matching outside technical expertise and resources with a broader array of businesses and brands.
EtherCAT plugs into the US
The event’s main goal, which was to check the interoperability of EtherCAT implementations, was accomplished. Four new master implementations were tested with slave devices from eight different vendors. The devices were checked with the official EtherCAT conformance test tool.
With Plug Fests held in North America, Asia and
Real-time fieldbus moving faster in Europe
According to the study, the fieldbus market in
Reductions in heavy cabling results in substantial savings in capital expenditure and reduces the total man hours spent on maintenance. In addition, plant availability is increased by boosting add-on devices through lowered commissioning efforts. Thus, fieldbus devices provide the advantage of online information tracking, which helps in improving overall plant efficiency, according to the study.
“The prognostic capability of fieldbus devices enables easy diagnosis of controllers or equipment and predicts if the device requires the attention of the operator,” says Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Khadambari Shanbagaraman. “The flexibility of offering services from one central point by connecting additional devices to the bus provides compatibility and extends access to remote systems in the field, eases the work load of the maintenance person, and is an efficient fault detector with reduced debugging time.”For more information on the study, visit Frost & Sullivan.
Putting a robot to work
To help determine if the technology was right, Eriez's engineering team obtained a robotic welder test unit with the support of a local
“A component in the feeder drive lends itself to be done automatically,” explains John Miles, director of operations. The unit quickly proved its value. “It can complete 14 in one hour, whereas only four of the same components can be completed manually in that same time,” he said.
After analyzing the unit for three weeks, the engineering team determined that an even larger and more advanced unit would be best for the manufacturer’s needs. Further testing on the vibratory feeder trays at the robot vendor proved that the unit Eriez planned to purchase would be capable of completing 90 percent of the company’s vibratory trays.Robotic welders offer a variety of advantages. Welds are more consistent and meticulous when performed by robots. Productivity and speed are improved, and cost savings can be significant.
Food Safety News
FDA changes direction on Vibrio vulnificus in Gulf Coast oysters
Since making its initial announcement, the FDA has received feedback from
According to the FDA, both the process and timing for large and small oyster harvesters to gain access to processing facilities or equivalent controls require further examination. The administration is proceeding with an independent feasibility study to assess how the post-harvest process can be quickly, safely and economically implemented in the
But according to David Plunkett, senior staff attorney for the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), the public loses in this FDA decision. “Public health lost out to the politics of special interests with FDA’s announcement that it may delay a requirement for processing Gulf Coast oysters to destroy the deadly bacteria Vibrio vulnificus, pending the findings of a feasibility study,” says Plunkett. “A group of Gulf Coast Senators and Representatives weighed in on the side of a small but vocal industry in their states and won. Unfortunately this political victory for the
Traceability interoperability key subject at new forum
The summit, “Traceability Interoperability Summit 2010,” will take place January 21-22 2010, in