Recently New Tech Lubes paid a visit to a company manufacturing pies, we went along to audit their current lubrication stocks with a view to rationalise them, ensure all lubricants met the correct standards for use in a food production facility and to offer alternatives from our extensive range of H1 and 3H registered lubricants.
As part of this process we visited the production area to talk to maintenance and production personnel to gain as much feed back in terms of problems and reliability of equipment, method used to apply lubricants, schedule of lubricant application and of course type of lubricant used. What we found in many cases was confusion over which lubricant to use, how often it should be used and in some cases where it should be used. In addition we discovered that hidden grease points and pivot points requiring lubrication were being over looked altogether.
The dilemmas continued in the purchasing department who were trying to maintain a bewildering list of lubricants from different suppliers in the stores, and no method of tracking the use of these products, or who had used them and where. It became apparent that over the years suppliers had not been updating products, or indeed taking note of the increasing quantity of lubricant being consumed. In order to affect change an understanding of lubrication, its application and control needed to be shared with all those who were involved in the maintenance of production machinery. We delivered a simple point by point presentation explaining why things needed to change and how individuals could improve reliability, reduce costs and increase production. Having rationalised and reduced the number of lubricants on site it allowed New Tech Lubes, in conjunction with the site engineers, to monitor usage.
Prior to this the only reliable figure concerning lubrication was a yearly spend of an eye watering £36,000 pa.
As problem areas were identified and we were able to deal with these one by one, starting with a conveyor chain prone to corrosion due to water wash down. Although the chain had been lubricated regularly the oil used was a mineral oil hydraulic fluid which was easily washed off with water and the cleaning fluids used, this was changed to a hydrophobic fluid and addivated to improve adhesion to chain surfaces. Operators who were lubricating machinery as part of clean down regimes were shown where hidden lubrication points were and issued with the correct lubricant for the machine and all operators used the same lubricant reducing lubricant compatibility issues and allowing performance to be monitored.
High temperature conveyor chain lubricant application was identified as a problem as during production it was difficult to gain access to apply lubricant. As a result this chain was only lubricated at weekend down time where it was perceived that soaking the chain was the best method, which created an over application leading to dripping of oil within the oven. This problem was cured by fitting an automated lubrication system and application of a high temperature H1 registered oil, FS Techno Carb Super 2. This allowed application at any time and only enough lubricant was then needed to lubricate the conveyor.
For some reason in the past 3 years different grades of hydraulic fluids had been used, and no one knew why. This had lead to confusion on the shop floor as which to use. By assessing machine requirements it was found only one grade was required and allowed site engineers to assess consumption of each hydraulic system. We introduced a fully synthetic Hydraulic fluid FS Hyd Oil in order to deliver long life and maximum system protection.
Having identified which systems were consuming most it was time for leak detection. As FS Hyd Oil is water clear it is not always easy to spot leaks, but as New Tech Lubes manufactures it own hydraulic fluids we were able to offer a bespoke solution and introduced a dye, compliant with H1 requirements, which was blended into all new product supplied. In the following 3 – 4 months consumption of hydraulic fluids dropped by more than 80%.
The impact of this reduction in consumption cannot be over stated, not only is the cost reduced, it also frees up maintenance staff to address other problems. Another issue identified was high wear on chains due to corrosion, once again a full analysis of the problem has led to a change in lubricant used which is able to provide much better protection. And finally the introduction of a simple but effective auto lubrication system, which prevents over application of high temperature oven lubricant, has led to another reduction in consumption.
The end result?
- Maintenance engineers are able to stop fire fighting and start maintaining and developing, allowing for even more efficiency in the plant.
- Break downs and interrupted production problems have decreased.
And incidentally that eye watering figure we mentioned earlier £36,000pa, *drum roll please*, is now £14,000pa. We call that a result!
The moral of this story?
- Be sure that whoever you go to for advice seeks as much information about your process and requirements as possible. If they don’t they will be struggling to offer a good solution/product that meets your needs.
- Have to hand and share as much information as possible, include machine performance history such as break downs and what caused them you never know it may be possible to improve over original lubricant specification.
The team at New Tech Lubes has years of experience in such diverse areas from Forges to bakeries, cement plants to ski lifts, powder coaters to meat plants, and we are happy to share that with you!
Contact New Tech Lubes if we can’t help you over the phone we can visit you on site. Also because we manufacture and blend our own product it may even be possible to offer a bespoke product to fit you exact needs. We promise Knowledge, Quality and Service – put us to the test today!
Author: Andy Stephen