Preventative maintenance of your packaging line equipment will save you money and provide brewers with confidence in the consistency and efficiency of your machinery.
Keeping any equipment running well can be thought of in the same way as keeping a car. If you never changed your car’s oil what would happen? The vehicle would still run but you will probably be cutting 10 years off the engine’s life-span.
Ask yourself, how often should you grease the bearings in your packaging line? Questions like this should be answered in your preventative maintenance plan.
If you do not have a preventative maintenance plan for you packaging line, I will explain how to reach a point that you can feel confident in your machinery.
Machines must be serviced regularly. Whether you can handle most maintenance yourself or employ the help of a professional you should have a plan and a schedule. You probably have a list of checks you perform each packaging run but there are things that can be done at weekly, monthly and yearly intervals too.
Having these things written down means that you know what needs to get done and you can ensure that it is happening.
Your car has a service log book, so should the machines that make you money.
If you do not know what packaging line maintenance needs to be done, read the machine’s manual, ask the manufacturer for advice, or consult a professional maintenance technician to help you.
The reason we do these checks and services is to reduce the risk of breakdowns and major repairs. Something minor like a failed seal can cost you time, result in excess waste or produce poor quality product.
A bearing that doesn’t get greased could collapse and cause damage to a gearbox, the cost of which far exceeds the cost of planned maintenance and a little bit of grease. Coming back to the car analogy, tyres need to be replaced so you don’t skid off the road or end up driving around on your rims. I know this sounds obvious, but neglect of the simple things is all too common.
So who is going to be looking after your machines? Whoever is responsible must have a solid understanding of all the operations of the machine. It could be one of your own crew, as long as they have a good understanding of the equipment.
This understanding must include knowledge of designed weak-points such as seals that need to be checked regularly. They must be able to recognise when equipment is not running as it is supposed to. They should be able to notice odd sounds and product faults as well as understanding the reasons these things occur.
If the person responsible has the sufficient knowledge of the equipment, then they can go about performing minor maintenance such as applying grease or changing seals. When it comes time to do an overhaul or a major service, the manufacturer might have recommended service providers, or you can contact your local maintenance technician.
Mitch Gibson is a Maintenance Technician. He installs, services and repairs food and beverage machinery, specialising in M+F keg fillers and experienced with bottle/can fillers, cappers/seamers, labellers, conveyors, case packers, carton tapers. Some of my existing customers are Little Creatures, Two Birds and Deeds Brewing.